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Recent News: 7/23/08
I've finally finished an old project: The Green, a supplement for Clinton R. Nixon's Donjon. The Green is free. It's an homage to D&D's old Hollow World setting, which is a nice way of saying I stole a lot from it.
Work on S.A.'s first supplement Travelogue continues, as does my work on Console: Sidearm. My new job has me pretty busy, but I do have time to do a little typing once in a while. My creative juices are definitely flowing, but unfortunately I need the reliability juices these days. Travelogue needs a little more writing. Sidearm needs a lot more. Neither of them is on track for release any time soon, but I should have playable stuff from them at this year's Genericon.
Finally, The Princess Game is in the running for Indie RPG of the Year! It makes me happy.
Having SA finished makes me so happy. I was exhausted when I got it, and I'm still a little sleepy now, but it was worth every lost hour of sleep and every dollar paid in express shipping.
Sidearm just had its first playtest at Genericon, and the basic card mechanic seems to work really well. I'm pleased. The rest of the con was also great - we had fun playing monsters in Super Console, and (harmlessly) detonating a dirty bomb in SA. I even got to play a game of Sufficiently Advanced for the first time, which was great.
In other news, I'm slowly, officially phasing out the use of this website and of the Valent Games monkier. Part of this is also because Valence isn't our flagship any more, but I also find it much easier to work through the design journals for specific games than to pretend that I keep this site updated with useful information. I suspect that this site will become more of a good set of pointers than a source/repository of content on its own.
I've created a Sufficiently Advanced wiki for those who are interested in learning more about the game and perhaps contributing to its community a little. The old design journal is going to stay around, but it's not going to be the main source of news and information any more.
Speaking of SA, it's nearly complete. I'm waiting for the final edits to arrive from England, something I had hoped would happen by the end of 2007. Right now I still have my fingers crossed for a release at Genericon.
And if you're more of a fan of our older stuff, here's something I just started working on:
That image is a link to the design journal for Sidearm, which is essentially Console III with a western setting. Wild Arms III was a big inspiration here, but ideas from all over the place will show up. I find the design journals much easier to keep updated than this website for some reason, so if you've been looking here for information, you may want to start looking there instead. Sidearm's update schedule has been almost daily so far.
It's been SO LONG since my last update.
Right now I'm teaching Precalc at summer school, so I've been busy, but not so bad that I haven't been working on things. Not only does SA have both a front cover and a back cover, but I've been adding a few little bits and pieces where they seemed necessary.
I'm waiting for some artwork to come in for SA, but the majority of the writing is done. Sometime in the early Fall I'll be sending the book to an editor, and the whole thing will be ready by this year's Genericon.
Most recently, I've also written a very short game: The Princess Game. 16 pages, with a very pretty color scheme and simple rules. Here's a short review for those who are interested. My favorite comment on the game so far has been, "...the game is just charming to read. I felt like I wanted to hug it."
Hopefully I'll be able to post more often than once a month. If you're looking for more regular updates, check out the Sufficiently Advanced design journal, where I often post about other Valent Games stuff.
Finally, Permafrost has been removed from the sites where I sell things. Reviews were, to say the least, bad. I'm not going to put it back up until I have a revised version that beats the pants off the original, and that may be a while. Thanks for your comments and questions about it.
I just got back from Genericon XX, which was awesome (as always). I got to run Sufficiently Advanced on Friday night and Super Console on Saturday night. Thank you to all the people who played in both games! Those who were in Super Console, if you have some pictures to send to me I'd very much appreciate it. You may have to send more than once, as my spam filter is a little hyperactive (for good reason).
I also got to see a lot of friends I haven't seen in two years, which makes me happy. I have to convince some of them to start writing up and distributing their own games. :)
The beta version of Sufficiently Advanced is ready, and we're in the home stretch now. Admittedly this could be as long as another year, but I'm going to try to get it done before September.
Thanks again to all my players and the organizers of Genericon for giving me a great weekend.
Our newest product is Permafrost, a "total conversion" for D&D, introducing new base classes that use the existing rules.
Twenty years ago there was a major planar accident, an epic-level screwup of such magnitude that it pushed the prime material plane out of its place in the cosmos. Ever since then the world has been getting colder and colder. The whole world is in the worst ice age you can imagine — the equator’s frozen and the poles are wide-open portals to the paraelemental plane of Ice. If not for magic, everyone would be dead. There are only a quarter million people left alive.
But there is hope: you.
Permafrost is a 42-page PDF introducing ten new 20-level base classes. The book also includes forty plot seeds, a new monster template, the effects of winds, weather, and cold all in one place, and two versions of the PDF for reading on-screen or black-and-white printing. A minimalist setting ties it all together, allowing you to expand on it the way you want, or strip it out to use these classes in your own campaign.
Since the new classes are the core of the supplement, how about a list?
- Core Seeker: The ultimate dungeoneers, core seekers combine a ranger's survival skills and a rogue's facility with traps in order to explore the underground.
- Crystalhome Adept: Monks forced to deal with a city full of refugees, these adepts have traded some of their combat skills for social prowess and crystal-oriented powers.
- Iceborn Raider: A rogue-like class with flexible invisibility-based powers, iceborn raiders steal from others to stay alive.
- Knight of the Snows: Servants of the Snowflake Queen (a fae goddess), with the ability to create cold-oriented weapons and armor out of snow.
- Mad Hermit: Left alone in the wilderness too long, some people lose their minds. Sometimes, other things move in and take up residence. Then the rage comes.
- Magma Mage: Blow. Things. Up. Ever wanted to make your own volcano? Here's a class that can do it.
- Naga Cultist: Part socialite, part assassin, with a poisonous touch. Naga cultists bring forth the will of their masters on the upper world.
- Planar Initiate: A psion-derived class focusing on knowledge and the outer planes.
- Reborn Archon: An actual archon, reborn in a living body, with access to powerful healing and protective spells.
- Servant of Death: More mortician than necromancer, these gravekeepers can turn into the undead and have a powerful unliving ally.
Permafrost also introduces Signature spells, an excellent way to reduce the complexity of your high-level spellcasters without sacrificing their effectiveness.
At just seventy-five cents per base class, Permafrost is an excellent use of your hard-earned money, and a must-have for anyone running an arctic-themed game.
Permafrost requires a set of the core rules or SRD in order to run. It is not a complete game.
Update on 10/30/06
A rough draft of my doctoral thesis has been turned in, which explains a significant part of the delay since the last post.
Console Legends has been on the back burner for a while; thus why I was able to finish item #1 above. :)
Finally, DriveThruRPG and RPGNow have merged, which I personally think is a great thing. DriveThru has some really major publishers, and RPGNow has awesome tools for publishers to use, so I think it's a good match. The full story can be found here. All my links are still in place, so you can still buy through either place. Eventually they'll have a single combined site, but it'll take a little while.
Things have been pretty quiet around here since Monster Mash. The forums are still gone, and will likely stay gone for the forseeable future - sorry about that. If you want to ask me questions or discuss the games, you can always hit the RPG.net forums, which I frequent. It's a relatively nice place.
Sufficiently Advanced is still coming along, slowly. That link will give you the development journal, where I've been posting some game fiction. Let me know what you think.
The core of the game is certainly ready at this point. While there are things I'd like to do with the system, it works ok as it is right now. I have a few revisions from the alpha playtest and some more atmospheric writing that I need to do before the beta, which should be ready for Genericon this year.
Console Legends has been on the back burner because it badly needs a playtest before I do anything more with it. I have no desire to do tons of work on a game where the mechanics drive the story unless the mechanics work the way I think they do. Playtest volunteers are welcome!
I'll be selling some books at a craft fair in Worcester on September 16th if anyone's interested in stopping by. More info later, hopefully.
Alright, spammers still present. Forum removed. New forum to be installed at a later date, perhaps once I figure out how to get rid of the files from the last one... stupid permissions.
Progress has been a little slow recently, since I've been busy with my dissertation, other research-related endeavours, going for my black belt, the school I'm trying to design with some friends, and various other stuff.
Ok, that's enough of people spamming the forums. If this happens any more this month, they're coming down. I'm not going to keep a giant archive of everyone's moronic "buy generic misspelled drugs" messages. I already had to get rid of the "spam" folder because some idiots out there took me seriously. Good lord; I already get over 100 pieces of junk e-mail a day because of this site, I don't need to waste my time deleting more.
Anyway, there's been a little progress on Sufficiently Advanced (mostly in the area of technological descriptions, often lacking before) and on Console III. Wait, Console III? Didn't I just release Super Console, aka Console 2? Don't worry; this isn't your ordinary new edition. C3 is a completely different game; it might even have a different title by the time it comes out. (Someone suggested Console Chronicles.) The feel, mechanics, and focus are entirely different, though in the end it's still about simulating a console rpg... just the plot side instead of the game mechanics side. I'll post an alpha version when I get it ready.
The playtest for Stories from the Shelter has apparently been very fruitful; there's a good amount of activity on its design journal for those who are interested.
Cinco de Monster is here.
Monster Mash is the first supplement for Super Console, giving you the ability to play a powerful, evolving monster character. Play a monsters-only game, or mix-and-match with regular Super Console character classes. In here you'll find...
- 52 Monster Classes!
- Monsters that metamorphose into other varieties!
- New statuses!
- Items specifically for monster games!
- Antagonists for monster MCs!
- The new Angry State rule!
- Advice for the Players and CPU on how to play exactly the kind of game you want. Take on the forces of good, or fight the Main Villain for the right to take his place!
- Tons of pretty, pixelated art!
Monster Mash is just about ready, and should be available this Friday. This is definitely one of the shortest turnaround times I've ever had for a supplement! Mmmmm... forty-five pages of monstery goodness (or perhaps monstery evilness), with a picture for each one. It's going to be five bucks, in case anyone's curious.
If I ever do Console III, it will be quite different. C3 is looking like a story-telling game rather than a role-playing game - that is, rather than having a single character, you take turns narrating parts of the story. No CPU, no random monsters (unless they're important to the plot), no leveling or looting, just pure plot. Oh, and boss fights, since they're integral to the game. Boss fights will be how you get rewarded for good narrations. If you don't tell a good enough story, you might have to narrate the party losing! But all that is in the future.
Speaking of the future, work on Sufficiently Advanced has been slow, and will continue to be slow until at least June 5th when I return from Tanzania. Sorry 'bout that. There isn't much internet access in that country, nor will I have the least desire to take time away from my trip to use a computer. Screw that, man - I'm gonna see giraffes!
I've received my proof copy of Super Console, and it looks great. The cover's nice and glossy, the paper stock is good, the interior greyscales are good and solid... it's pretty cool overall.
Because Super Console has been so popular, I'm working on a supplement for it. The working title is Monster Mash. Here are some of the features for the supplement:
- Fifty-two different Monster Classes.
- Monster evolution - pick a new branch of your class at 10th and 50th level. A Goblin might transform into an Ogre, who could go on to become a Titan. An Apprentice could fail the test of wizardry and become a Zombie, who later becomes a Lich. (Yes, that's how I fit fifty-two classes in the book - none of them go for all ninety-nine levels.)
- Rules for being in "The Angry State," becoming more powerful when your health is low.
- Five new statuses: Claw Break, Scale Break, Mind Break, Zombied, and the ever-unpopular Corrupt.
- Advice for running a monsters-only game, and for working monster classes into a regular game of Super Console. Fight for the Main Villain, against him, or to replace him!
- Lots of new art. At the very least, there will be a picture for every monster. I can say this because I already have them.
- Basically still compatible with the original Console (though some minor changes will have to be made for full compatibility).
I've got about 20 pages written already. It's pretty fun to write.
For those waiting for Sufficiently Advanced, don't worry, it's still coming. It takes much longer to write good, believable sci-fi than it does to churn out monster mechanics, especially when I have to playtest the system to death. If you don't already read it, check out the Sufficiently Advanced Design Journal.
Super Console is now available in dead-tree form! If you want a nice paper copy of our wonderful game, head over to RPGNow Edge. Just $18.00, or $13 if you already bought the electronic version.
And in case you're curious, Super Console has been at the top of the Edge's Hot Sellers list since it was released last month. Pretty awesome.
Super Console! is complete!
Faster than a speeding airship! More powerful than the final boss! Able to cross from the eastern part of the map to the western part in a single bound! It's Super Console!
The follow-up to Console (a runner-up for Best Indie Game of 2003), Super Console is a role-playing game that pokes fun at such games as Final Fantasy™, Arc the Lad™, and Shining Force™. If you've ever wondered what the characters do after the game is over (or just want to know what the heck people who aren't in the active party do to pass their time), this is your game. Super Console is a more or less generic fantasy game, tunable for anything from silly armor-stealing hilarity to deep, thick, gooey plots to Diablo™-like monster smashing.
Super Console completely overhauls the game engine for greater scalability. It also includes two new classes (the Adventurer and Dark Knight), more detail for Tasked characters (including Living Items!), more GM advice, optional combat rules, new character sheets, pregenerated stores and monsters, and plenty of new artwork.
P.S.: Yes, this invalidates the two older supplements. However, it also includes just about everything they gave you, so I don't really see that as a down side. Those who bought Console or one of the supplements at RPGNow already have a discount coupon for Super-C waiting in their e-mail.
The quickstart for Sufficiently Advanced has been updated and improved. Now it's the Alpha Manual, and you can get it through that link or via the design journal. It's 83 pages long, and a 2.7 MB download. Suggestions, comments and questions are welcome.
Happy New Year, everyone! It's been an up-and-down year for the company (especially losing so many files in the hard drive crash), but it's been a good year for me personally, and I'd rather have that anytime.
For those of you who've been waiting to pick up our stuff until a sale comes along... um... a sale comes along. Roll initiative.
All our stuff is 25% off at RPGNow Edge, until January 15th.
As always, more news about the progress of our uber-high-tech game Sufficiently Advanced can be found on the design jounral. Just click the "Blog" link on the left-hand side of the screen. The short version: I'm working on an Alpha version to replace the Quickstart, and it's 71 pages so far. I'm anticipating about 85 pages by the time it's done.
Console is waiting for some new art from a friend of mine and needs editing besides that, but is otherwise just about ready. I had considered altering some abilities to balance out the classes... but frankly, balance is not what console games are about. So screw that. As long as the Thief's having fun being all sneaky, I don't really care that he's underpowered compared to the Fighter.
Howdy. It's been too long.
Valent Games is proud to announce that our products are available at e23, SJ Games' digital vendor. We had this in the works before the computer crash, and things got in the way on both sides. But now it's all better.
The Sufficiently Advanced quickstart got out a while ago; in fact, it's almost time for an update. Check out our progress at the design log.
In our final piece of news, Super Console has been reconstructed from the ashes of the crash. Emma White (who did some work on The Undying Lands) has mentioned that she might do some art for the classes, so I'm looking forward to that. There's still editing, more art, and final layout to go through, so (like most of our stuff) it won't be out tomorrow. But it kicks ass. Tick-based battle system, Health and Mana bars instead of HP and MP, a total system overhaul, and no more triple-digit math (we promise).
There's a good chance that we'll be adding another product soon. I want it to be a little more firmed up before I start talking about it, but a friend of mine approached me with an idea that was part Ender's Game, part Stargate, and it sounds pretty good. He's providing most of the writing; I'm doing the publishing duties and writing the GM Advice section. More to come as the months progress.
Finally, RPGNow has created a site specifically for small-press PDF creators like myself. It's called RPGNow Edge. Just thought you might like to know.
It's been a long time since I've had any updates here, so I figured I'd say hello to everyone. The quickstart manual for Sufficiently Advanced is up to about 22 pages, and I hope to have it done by early to mid July. No art, just solid text.
We also have a new review of Valence on the Reviews page.
As for rebuilding old projects, Valence is getting some re-editing, and SuperConsole mostly just needs a solid week of work for me to re-integrate it. After that, it needs an editor, a new cover, and maybe some new art. Things aren't going as fast as I'd hoped. Oh well. This is what happens when you lose half your work just after finding a fascinating new project.
I heard back from the data recovery people yesterday, and they were unable to recover, as they put it, "even one bit of usable data" from my hard drive. Which sucks, of course. I'm going to be working to rebuild my games and recover what I can of what's lost, but it will take a while, especially with the end of the school year coming up. SuperConsole is the current priority, since I think I can recover it all one way or another. If you were waiting for Starbound... well... keep waiting. Sorry.
If you're interested in seeing one of my games develop day-by-day (or close to it), check out the design log for Sufficiently Advanced. It's set up as a LiveJournal community at the moment, since that lets me update it with any web browser from any computer. If you would like to become a member of the community, just let me know (no charge or anything).
Note also the Reviews page that's been set up on the left-hand navigation bar. It has links to reviews of all our games (except Console, which hasn't had any for some reason).
I have recently had a very bad computer crash. Everything on my hard drive is wiped out, including all my files for Valence, Above & Beyond, Minigame, everything. Not to mention stuff like my vacation pictures, my Master's thesis, half my music collection, dozens of indie RPGs, shareware registration codes, e-mail, contact information, and more. It's pretty awful.
I will be sending the drive to DriveSavers once I can be sure that I have the money for it. If you would like to help me out, feel free to use the PayPal Donate button below [button removed now that it's all over], or to buy one of my games at RPGNow or DriveThruRPG Both places give me about 75% of what you pay, so it's pretty effective.
I'll keep everyone updated, and I'm not closing up shop by any means. It's a big setback for the company, but one that I can deal with even if I can't recover any of the data.
Minor Update on 3/18/05
A review of Valence has been posted at RPGnet for all to read and enjoy. It's a rather nice one, too. It made me so happy... it's wonderful to find someone who not only likes the game, but seems to really get it, too.
So I got Valence back from the printer last week... and it has a serious problem with the cover. Our cover, as you can planly see from the picture at right, is in full color. The books I received had the cover in black and white. This made me quite unhappy, and it means that I probably won't have the books ready by ConBust and OurCon. I'm working on getting a new set printed, but the new printer doesn't seem to be any better - I would have to go without our logo on the spine, and without the wraparound parts of the cover, and that's like intentionally ordering another misprint. I am VERY unhappy with everyone involved in this right now. Screw-ups like this really burn me, and I have the distinct feeling that someone is going to screw me out of my money in the process.
On a happier note, Super Console will be going off to our editor next week, and since it's Spring Break at UMass, I've been able to get a lot of writing done for some of our other projects too.
Time for an update.
As previously mentioned, Valence is out. You can see it on the "recent products" list to the right. There will be a small print run; the cost will be $20 (or $25 if I have to ship it to you). E-mail me if you're interested, but don't screw around - if you can't pay for it, don't pretend you can. I'm going to expect to see half the cost up-front (via PayPal) from people I don't know personally.
Super Console, a project I didn't talk about very much, is close to ready. I'm going to find an editor for it soon, and I'm still looking for art, but it's 90% to 95% complete.
For some ruminations on the future of Valent Games, keep an eye on my blog (link on the left). Actually, it's a good place to look if you're interested in our games at all. A lot of stuff gets discussed there before it "goes public" here.
Final note: I'm looking for reviewers for our games. If you've ever wanted a free copy of something, and are willing to write a review for a major site like RPG.net, ENWorld, or other such places, give me an e-mail and we'll work things out. Contact link on left, right under Blog.
Sleepy time soon.
I'm also talking to the nice people at e23 about having my games listed there, so I would expect to see it there pretty soon too.
It's such a wonderful day. :)
1/30/05: Genericon Day 3
The run of Console went quite well today; the tag-team battle system seems to work pretty well for large groups. I still have some tweaking to do before Super Console is ready for the big time, but overall I think it was a success.
One thing I don't usually pay attention to at conventions is the cosplay, but there were a lot of good costumes this year. Optimus Prime was particularly impressive, as was the full-body Bowser suit, and about half the people in my Console game were dressed up in one way or another.
I did end up making a few sales of Minigame, which makes me happy. If I sell about twelve more copies I'll break even on the print run, which would be awesome. Now I just have to work on getting more issues made.
As nice as the weekend was, now it's time to go off to my day job. Thank you to all the people who ran the con; it was great this year (as always) and I'll be looking forward to next year.
1/29/05: Genericon Day 2
I had the pleasure of playing a galaxy-domination board game entitled EMag today. Huge amounts of fun. I can't wait until Tau finds someone to publish it, so I can buy a copy. One of the best things about coming to a convention like this is meeting such talented game designers. I also found out the name of one of the games I played a few years ago that's been driving me nuts since then (it was Citadels).
I haven't had a lot of luck selling Minigame, but at least I'm getting the word out. I suspect (hope, really) that some people might wait and save their money until Sunday afternoon, and then go on a last-minute buying spree.
The run of Valence was full tonight, with several people who had played the game before. It was very nice to play with some people who had seen the progression of the rules and had some familiarity with the setting. We had a solid stress-test of the social combat system, and it definitely passed. Oh, and the Budetug homeworld is still safe.
Note to self: my bag is too damn heavy. I practically dislocated my shoulder carrying that thing around. When OurCon and ConBust come, I need a lighter bag or luggage with wheels.
Tomorrow: Console, closing ceremonies, perhaps buy some art, hopefully sell some Minigame. Sleep now.
1/28/05: Genericon, Day 1
Arrived at the con with about 50 lbs of goodies in tow. Nearly broke my collarbone in the process. Have badge, touched base with friends at con, and am now sitting quietly at a friend's apartment in Troy.
Today was a slow day; sometimes it's better just to hang out with people. I plan to be at the con the whole day on Saturday, selling Minigame and meeting new folks.
Minigame #1-4 are off at the printer right now. I'm having a small-run printing of them done before the conventions, so hopefully I'll have a big box full of stuff to cart around at Genericon. They will definitely be here for OurCon and ConBust, even if I have to order more.
The cover art for Valence is ready; again not a huge change, but a good one. There's a back cover too, but only those of you who catch me with the print version will see that one. The long-delayed editing is almost done; I've gone through and put in page references (a major step for me).
I highly encourage everyone in the New England and New York area to come to Genericon; it's a great time every year, and it's not very expensive. Here's their website I'll be running both Valence and Console (and if Console is nearly as popular as it was last year, I'll probably be running it twice!).
Well, off to my day job.
Well, it's time for another of what seem to be monthly updates.
First, for those of you traveling to Genericon at the end of January, I'll be running two games there. One will be Valence (entitled House Cleaning) and the other will be Console (entitled Castle Crawl). It's a great convention in general, so even if you don't play in my games, you should still go.
Second, I have to announce that The Revolution and Sapiens won't be ready for Genericon. Sorry. Perhaps OurCon or ConBust.
Third (and final for now), Valent Games was #58 on RPGNow's top vendors (by revenue) in 2004! While this might seem to be a pretty low ranking, we're right behind the nice people at Guardians of Order, and ranked higher than Green Ronin and Memento Mori! I'm rather stunned. Apparently it's been a better year than I thought. Of course I'm nowhere near the real "big guns" like Ronin Arts, E.N. Publishing, and Malhavoc (all in the top 20), but it's nice to see.
More news to come before the con.
Editing of Valence is going well. People also seem to like the new font and color scheme. Unfortunately, some of the older graphics we have seem to have deteriorated with age (or perhaps they were never scanned that well to begin with), and need to be ditched or re-scanned. It's a shame.
The Revolution and Sapiens have been sent off to the Tatros (you may remember them from earlier issues of Minigame). I've run into a little bit of writer's block with those games, and hopefully Drew and Anna can help me out of it.
It's been a productive month, but unfortunate it's all behind-the-scenes stuff. Hopefully in December and January I'll have something I can actually show you.
LOTS of formatting work has been done on the main rulebook. It's still on-schedule for release by Genericon. I hope to have printed copies of all of the Minigame supplements, and possibly The Four Magics, for my standard spring cons (Genericon, OurCon, and ConBust). Printed copies of Valence are possible, but I'll have to look carefully at the pricing. I've just added a bunch of interior color, which can cost a fortune.
The Revolution and Sapiens are still on deck, and will remain there for at least another month. They're about 24 and 16 pages, respectively. Another addition to the Minigame lineup is "Sufficiently Advanced," a sci-fi game with higher technology than just about any other. If you've read Wil McCarthy's recent stuff, or Hyperion or Singularity Sky, that's the appropriate tech level. Something based on the farthest reaches of what we think is possible today. It's still in early design phases right now, which is a good thing — writing about an immortal society where everyone can just spontaneously create entire houses when they feel like it is tricky. The longer I spend writing random societal bits, the better it will be.
Oh, and I'm working on building a hand-cranked Jacob's Ladder for Halloween. You know, the zappy things with the electricity between two near-vertical rods that you always see in Dr. Frankenstein's lab. I'll let you know how it goes.
Some minor improvements to the website (at least, I think they're improvements). And we finally have a company logo! You can see the small version up at the top, and the big version in the background of this page. I hope it doesn't cause too many legibility problems.
Work on other things has been slow. I wanted to get the website looking really nice, because it looked a little bare after the revision. Now it's time to put a little more effort into the games. Check the blog from time to time to find out what's going on in more detail.
While we haven't been soliciting art or freelance writing for the next issues of Minigame, we're still working on them slowly.
Issue #5, The Revolution, will feature a struggle against corruption and oppression in our modern world. Players portray are shining avatars of truth, the characters driven by an unknown force to make the world a better place whether they want to or not.
Issue #6, tenatively entitled Sapiens, is a game of survival and desparation at the height of the ice age. Players take the role of Neanderthals, being driven out of their homes and hunting grounds by the (comparatively) technologically advanced Cro-Magnons. Will your tribe brave the northern tundras in an attempt to escape, try to make alliances with the Cro-Magnons, or seek a third option? Set in 30,000 BC Europe.
More regular updates can be found on our LiveJournal (click the "blog" link on the left).
As you may have noticed, the website has had a pretty major reorganization. The main change behind the scenes is that it no longer uses frames, which (for those of you who don't design web pages) is a bigger change than you'd think. The design has also changed to make things a bit more expandable (note that you don't have to scroll down to see everything we do any more!).
For old news, see the Archive link at the left-hand side of the page. A lot of what used to be at the top of the page is now off to the left, plus a bit more that wasn't there before.
Fans of Valence should note that the download link has been removed in preparation for the second edition, which will be a pay product. We've put an awful lot of work into it.
It's a butt-ton of releases at once! Woot!
For the Console fans out there, our mini-supplement entitled I Like Swords is available at RPGNow.com for all your stabbity needs.
And, last but not least, The Four Magics is available at RPGNow.com, and will soon be at DriveThru.
When it rains, it pours, huh? Three products released in three days. Don't expect anything big from me for a little while, ok? :) Issue #4 is already #6 on the fantasy best-seller list this month, and #29 on the overall list this month. People seem to really like it.
News on 7/24/04
News on 7/18/04
All the art for The Undying Lands is in, and holy crap does it look nice. I mean, our art looks nice every month, but every month it still surprises me how many excellent artists there are in the RPG community.
Fil Kearny did this one of two goblins going at it:
Jeff Ward did this portrait-style drawing of a Noble:
And Emma White (no web site for her yet) did this little dude who's going to be sitting in the bottom corner of every page (though a bit smaller than this size). There's another faerie for the top corners.
News on 7/15/04
The Undying Lands is off to the editor. Cover art came in today (small version at left; click on it for the Minigame page to see the whole thing).
In other news, I have a blog now. You can check there for more regular info about Valent Games stuff, as long as you're willing to read through my random musings as well. :)
News on 7/12/04
It's been quite a while since I just had a regular update, instead of talking about some new product or other. I figure it's time for me to just blather for a minute or two.
Minigame #4 is coming along very nicely. There's about two more pages to go, and I'm expecting the art to come in any day now. This is great, but unfortunately issue #4 will be our last. I'll be the first to tell you that this is primarily my fault. I just don't know how to promote the mag well enough that it will break even! I know that it's good enough, that it has some great writing and good premises, but I'm just not good at "pimping" my own stuff. Heck, Above and Beyond still outsells half of our other stuff put together, and I think that's mostly just on name recognition. C'est la vie.
Thanks to everyone who was with Minigame from the beginning. Once in a great while you might see an issue of it, but don't hold your breath. It's expensive to put out good gaming material ($450 an issue), and when that doesn't break even, my pocketbook takes a real hit. Maybe some day when I have a little more cash lying around and am not worried about covering other peoples' rent.
I have to say that there are a few gaming books from other companies that I'm really looking forward to. The revised Vampire sounds like it fixed one of my main problems with the old game (generation), and I'll probably be there on day one or close to it. I have a lot of confidence in White Wolf these days. Of course, Mage is what I'm really waiting for, but Vampire's a good start.
Another one is the new version of Amber that's supposed to be coming from Guardians of Order (yes, they "own" Amber now too! Man, they get all the good games!). I'm a big Amber fan, having run a huge uber-campaign of it across five years of school, and I hope they do it right. Maybe I'll talk to them about the supplement idea I had... These guys also own the rights to Nobilis and the Authority/Stormwatch game, so let's hope they can capitalize on things - they could make a big jump up if they do.
Last would be GURPS 4th edition. I'm not a huge GURPS fan the way one of my friends at RPI is, but I certainly appreciate it and have pulled ideas from it from time to time. My 2nd edition book is falling apart and I'll probably pick up the 4th ed. book to replace it, if nothing else. I hear they finally fixed superpowers, which is awesome.
Anyway, that's it for the rant. I'll try to do this more often to keep the page interesting. See ya.
Minor update 7/10/04: A review of Mutatis Mutandis has been posted at ENWorld. Check it out - another 4/5 score!
Follow this link for a free demo of Mutatis Mutandis.
Minigame Magazine's third issue, Mutatis Mutandis, is now available at RPGNow.com for the low price of $6! In a world where everyone has superpowers, what is there left to do? Quite a bit, as it turns out...
News on 7/7/04
Minigame Magazine's third issue, Mutatis Mutandis, is now available at RPGNow.com for the low price of $6! In a world where everyone has superpowers, what is there left to do? Quite a bit, as it turns out...
Follow this link for a free demo of Mutatis Mutandis.
News on 6/23/04
Work is proceding well on our foruth issue, The Undying Lands. The game mechanics are about 90% ready, and the setting is unfolding well. I hope to run a playtest or two before the release date in August (yes, we've officially gone bi-monthly due to my writers having this whole "wedding" and "baby" thing). I'll post some of the mechanics up here for those who are interested.
Minor update: the Console Instant Monster Generator, a valuable CPU aid and time-saver, is now available via RPGNow. com. It's $1 for an Excel spreadsheet that will let you create monsters almost instantaneously! You know you want it...
News on 6/9/04
If any of you e-mailed me recently, I'll get back to you pretty soon. I just moved (not too far, just to Hadley MA), and had no net access for over a week. This is also part of why issue #3 is late - the rest of it being my writers missing the deadline. It's in for final approval right now and will hopefully be up by the weekend.
Alzrius (who reviewed issue #1 of Minigame) has posted a review of issue #2 at ENWorld's website. Go check it out; he has some very favorable things to say.
News on 5/22/04
The cover for Issue #3 of MInigame has been posted. Check it out. There's also one of the sample powers over on the Mutants and Masterminds web board, and more of the interior art at RPG.net's Freelancer's forum.
News on 5/6/04
Note also that Issue #1 is now just $5!
Issue #3 ("Mutatis Mutandis") is in the works right now, and we should have some art to post soon. The cover looks great.
News on 4/23/04
OurCon went quite well this year. I didn't have any of the POD copies of Minigame to show around, but I was able to run Console and play in a few neat games (including the biggest lego set I've ever seen outside a store). I was also on a Indie Game Publishing panel with Jared Sorenson, Grant Gigee, and Alec "kill 'em all" Baclawski, which was a lot of fun. Jared actually knew my name, which floored me, since I practically idolize his games.
All the art for Issue #2 of Minigame is in, and we've already got people working on issue #3. Here are some of the guild logos, and you can follow this link for more artwork from the book.
News on 4/12/04
We have most of the art for Minigame already, and though we're a little behind on the text, we should be able to get it out on schedule. The cover illustration has been updated, and you can check out Minigame's page on the left-hand nav bar.
I went to ConBust last weekend, and will be at OurCon this upcoming weekend. ConBust was a great time; I was able to run both Valence and Console. I'm only running Console at OurCon, but you're welcome to come by and play in it if you like.
We're also getting some printed copies of the first issue of Minigame in, hopefully before the con. I can't wait to see them!
Update on 3/31/04
Minigame Magazine's first issue is now available! Head over to and pick it up! If you're still a little unsure as to whether it's worth the $6 for 51 pages of goblinoid goodness, check out this free preview.
Of course, we've started working on the next issue already. It's called The Book of Guilds, and is a game set on an island where all deep and true knowledge is magical. Guilds whose memebers wield wonderous power influence all aspects of life. Art samples to come soon.
Update on 3/15/04
We now have all of the art for The Other Side in; check out the spiffy cover on the Minigame page and Grey Thornberry's art below:
News on 3/13/04
Another update on the 13th... it must be lucky.
We have the first of the art for minigame: a psionic goblin (on left) from Benjamin D. Richards (the interior artist from Above & Beyond), and an orcish truce (on right) from Sam Waulu. More will be posted here as it becomes available.
Minigame will be sold on RPGNow.com for the price of $6 an issue. The tenative release date is March 31st. I'll put up more info here as it becomes available.
In minor news, the links for the GM's book and MAC supplement for Valence have been removed from the left-hand navigation bar. Most of the GM's book has been put into the main rules; that which has not will find its home elsewhere (primarily in the Little Book of Metaplot). The MAC book will be folded into Starbound when it gets revised.
News on 2/24/04
More info about Minigame today. We've hired our artists, and are about 40% done with the content for the first issue. We have one piece of art from Benjamin D. Richards (who did the interior work for Above and Beyond), three from Grey Thornberry, and the cover (and one interior piece) from Sam Waulu. I'll post some previews here as soon as they come in, and probably on RPG.net too. I'm really looking forward to these.
Minor update on 2/21/04
The Lattice book has been removed from the left-hand navigation bar, since it has been folded into the main rulebook. The GM's book will be the next one to go, when we write the Little Book of Metaplot.
News on 2/13/04
Friday the 13th, huh? An inauspicious day? Not for us.
I just got the interior art in for The Four Magics, and it looks really nice. I'll have to work up a cover for it soon, so that I can put something on the left navigation bar for it. I should really overhaul that frame soon; it'll need to contain a bit more stuff. And why is that, you might ask?
Valent Games has started work on the first issue of Minigame Magazine. Minigame presents one short but essentially complete RPG each month. Sometimes it will be OGL or d20, other times not. Our first issue is subtitled "The Other Side," wherein our players pick up the reigns of the prototypical D&D antagonists: orcs, goblins, kobolds, ogres, and other monsterous humanoids. I expect to have the fist issue ready by March 31st (there are two other people working on this besides me), and intend to keep to the monthly schedule.
Minigame will be sold on RPGNow.com for the price of $6 an issue (which isn't half bad for an RPG!). I'll put up more info here as it becomes available.
News on 2/2/04
It's Groundhog Day. Let's be honest; I live in New England. Another six weeks of winter would be too short. :) We haven't even had any two-foot snowfalls yet!
Fans of the Andromeda galaxy, rejoice! The rough species writeups for Andromeda can be found on their book's page (see left navigation bar). It's not really complete, but the people who asked for it seemed very insistent on having it, so I don't think they'll mind. The game stats are all there, just not the full cultural writeups. It's a good start.
News on 1/21/04
Happy new year.
Genericon was excellent this year. Nearly 600 people came to watch anime, play games, and drool over Pete Abrams (of Sluggy Freelance fame). I was able to run both Console and Valence, and played in a game of Nobilis. If you've never been, I highly recommend going next year. It's the best-run college convention I've ever heard of, and has more anime than almost any con on the east coast.
Some people asked me to make info about the variuos Andromedan species available, so that will be my next priority after my qualifiers are done (massive tests on Thursday and Friday). That shouldn't take long. After that, the priority list goes as follows:
- The Four Magics (M&M Superlink supplement)
- the still-unnamed scifi toolkit (M&M Superlink supplement)
- Starbound Revised (Valence supplement)
- Expansion Pack (Console supplement)
- Andromeda (Finally! Valence supplement)
- The Little Book of Metaplot (Valence supplement)
I'm considering starting a project called Minigame (another relatively commercial endeavour, but hopefully a cool one), but it's still in the stage where I have to make sure it's going to be distinguishable from other existing products to the extent where people will buy it. Quite difficult in the d20/OGL market these days.
News on 12/17/03
Holy crap, it's been a while since I updated this site, isn't it. Damn. I guess homework and finals have taken more of my time than I thought.
So here's what's going on with me. I'll be at Genericon this January, running Console (an adventure called "Airship Pirates") and the second edition of Valence ("Last Contact"). I'll also be at OurCon and ConBust, though my plans aren't as finalized for those two.
I'm going to finish off my second Mutants and Masterminds Superlink supplement over winter break, and get someone to do art for it. It's a short supplement containing some more "mystical" approaches to magic than the Sorcery power found in the main book. I also have a sci-fi toolkit planned, which I should be able to do a good amount of work on. Don't ask me for a release date.
The expansion pack for Console is proceeding slowly but surely. I'm going to be using some of it at Genericon, and hope to have the rest ready for release by the end of spring term.
Valence, ironically, is the one project that's lagging behind these days. I'd love to do more work on it, but the other stuff pays the bills right now. Maybe this summer I'll polish up the second edition. It's not too far away, it just needs some editing and filling in the gaps. If you haven't downloaded it yet, take a look. It kicks the first edition's butt.
News on 10/28/03
Happy day - Above and Beyond has broken even. I've made enough sales to cover the first set of artist and editor payments! Thanks to everyone who bought a copy and everyone who convinced their friends to buy one!
My next projects are a small supplement for Console (call it "expansion pack #1", the first part of the larger Expansion Pack that was promised long ago) and a variant magic system for M&M. Both of those will have to wait until my Quantum Physics midterm and Classical Mechanics homework are done, though. :)
Big News on 10/16/03
News on 10/15/03
The biggest piece of news for right now is that Console is now available on RPGNow.com! Just type "Console" in the "Quick Find" search thingie on the left-hand side, and there we are!
Now, some people might ask, "Why should I pay $5 for something that's available here for free?" There are two answers. The first is that you're supporting the "Put Colin Through Grad School" fund. The second, and perhaps more compelling, reason is that the version on RPGNow will occasionally be updated, and those updates will be free to anyone who buys it there. The version on this site will no longer be updated, and is in fact out of date already.
Above and Beyond is still going through the approval process at Green Ronin, but should be clear by the end of the week. It, too, will be on RPGNow, and I'll let you know when it shows up there.
Not much news for Valence right now. My Quantum II homework has been more important this week.
Minor update on 9/28/03
Our forums have recieved an upgrade, from version 3.2 to 3.9 of Daan Deconinck's awesome SimpleForum. Go have fun.
News on 9/20/03
The sidebar link for Above and Beyond has been added.
The second edition of Valence has been uploaded. It's the pre-playtest version, and it's a 3.1 MB file. Go to the game's homepage to get more details.
All order forms have been taken down. Later this year we'll be offering stuff through RPGNow.com.
It's been a busy week.
News on 9/6/03
Project update time.
Above and Beyond, a cosmic-level Superlink supplement for Mutants and Masterminds, is coming along well. It just got sent off to the editor a day or two ago, and the artist is doing rather well (he's halfway into the inking stage). I expect it will be done by mid-October. I'll add a page to the side navigation bar for it next week.
Valence 2nd Edition has been much longer in production than A&B, but it's also much larger. Right now it's 222 pages, and that will probably go up a little when I add the beautiful new art. I'll be posting the pre-playtest version here once all of the art is in, so that will probably be later this month. The post-playtest, nice polished version will take longer, and might not be updated until after Genericon or even OurCon.
Last, there's Expansion Pack, a supplement for Console, which has sort of been pushed to the back burner. I hope to have some of it ready for Genericon this year, but no guarantees.
What are we doing after that? Well, Starbound will need to get revised once the main rulebook is done. The Lattice supplement and GM's book got more or less folded into the main rules, so they're getting taken off the supplement list. I may fold the MAC supplement into Starbound, but we'll see. Before Starbound's revision there will be the Little Book of Metaplot, and after Starbound will be the long-anticipated Andromeda supplement. That should take us into next year.
I'm not sure at this time whether I'm going to do any more Superlink supplements; we'll have to see how this one sells. I'm relatively certain that I won't be making any more Console supplements after Expansion Pack, just because there aren't many places to go with that game.
So that's not quite a release schedule, but it's as close as we're going to get. Let us know what you think.
News on 8/25/03
More art is coming in for the second edition of Valence, and it looks absolutely great. Maybe I'll post something here when it all arrives.
I've also been working on a Mutants and Masterminds Superlink supplement for cosmic-level superhero games. It's a bit different from what we usually do, I know, but it's really fun to write. This will probably eventually be available on RPGNow.com, but I'll post some bits from it here. When the cover gets finalized it will be added to the left navigation bar. I should probably do something to clean that up evenetually, huh. For right now it looks like "Above and Beyond" is going to be the supplement's title. Stay tuned for more details, or check the developer's forum on RPG.net and the M&M Superlink forum on the Mutants and Masterminds website.
News on 8/6/03
The 2nd edition of Valence is coming along quite well. It's getting to the stage where I'm ready to start playtesting it, and probably will do so as soon as school starts up around here (it'll give me a nice steady player group). This time it'll actually have art! Not every page, perhaps, but a few really good pieces. Jennifer Meyer, whose work I am a big fan of, will be doing four pieces for us, and Andy World, a friend of mine who was a guest at Genericon last year, has already provided a few. Plus there's the old microwave-firing Valorian from Heather Vellante, and maybe a few renders from me.
Speaking of renders and other computer-intensive things, Tau has come up with an Excel-based character generator for the current version of Valence. I should warn you, it's a pretty big download unless you have a cable modem. He also gave me a bunch of new starship renders, some of which look very nice indeed. Here's just one of them, which will definitely find its way into either the revised main rules or the later revision of Starbound. it's on a white background so that it can be more easily included in our books (printed on white paper, after all).
News on 7/13/03
Howdy everyone. I have a present for you: Console has been updated. It's nothing huge, but it fixes a few small problems and makes the file much smaller and faster to load. It's 1.9 MB now (instead of the 2.8 it was last time), and can be downloaded from the Console page. Things are going well for our rather minor presence at GenCon (see below). If you're going to be there, please stop by Wizard's Tower's booth and at least say hi.
The Valence main rules revision is going well. We're on page 188, and I think it will could go as high as 240 for the final page count. We'll see how much I end up trimming out of the weapons and armor section. We're adding more "normal people" equipment and cutting about half of the weapons, because people just didn't seem interested in 20 different types of laser pistol.
Now that I'm settled in Amherst I've started working again on Valence 2nd Edition and the Console Expansion Pack. Here's what the Table of Contents for the Expansion Pack will look like. Bear in mind that most of this is just working titles and not very well-organized yet, but I think everything I want to have is on the list.
- Variant Rules
- Iconic Characters
- Grid Advancement
- Learning Items
- Simplified Rules
- Alternate Element Systems
- Alternate Skill Trees
- Splitting XP and Skill Points
- Changing who rolls
- Crunchy Bits
- Weapons and Armor
- Task Equipment
- Mechanist Items
- Expansion Classes
- Rules for Specific Ages
- Wandering Bands of XP (the monster chapter
Minor update & status report: First item: The revised version of the main rulebook is up to 160 pages already... which is the length that the whole book was before! I have at least 40 pages left to go, so I'm probably going to shoot for a 224-page book. Second item: I'm working on a supplement for Console. The tenative title is "Console Expansion Pack." I'll give you more info on it in a little while, like the table of contents and a brief outline.
Unfortunately, as busy as last month was with new announcements, that's how dead this month was. I had a bunch to do for the classes I was teaching, and for the next two weeks I'll be busy moving to Amherst. However, there was one thing that I wanted to mention.
Tau, one of my friends, has rendered a few starships for me, and I really like them. I wanted to post them here, since they'll be finding their way into Starbound and the main rulebook in the next edition. From left to right these are a luxury cruise liner, a gunboat, and a capital ship.
We are very pleased to say that Console was a runner-up for Best Free Indie RPG of the Year! The awards site can be found by following this link. Congradulations to all the winners! Now I'll have to start working on something that'll win next year's awards. ;) Some of the things that people said about Console during the awards process have been posted on that game's page (follow link above, or scroll down on left-hand nav bar).
4/13/03: OurCon Report
I'm a little sad to say it, but OurCon had more problems than ConBust did. However, the "bitch session" at the end of the con was quite well-attended, and the staff paid attention to what was said, so I imagine that next year it will go much better. The main problem this year was a general lack of attendees - only about seventy people came. I wasn't able to run either Console or Valence, though I did sell some of my CDs.
The good news that came out of OurCon was that I met people from The Wizard's Tower, in Nashua NH. They're going to GenCon this year, and will be selling my CDs and copies of Valence for me! This makes me quite happy. We're still working out the details, but I'll keep you posted.
The most important thing that happened this weekend, though, was that I found an apartment in Amherst. This is a very good thing, as I'm going to UMass Amherst next year for my PhD in Physics. Hooray!
4/7/03: ConBust Report
ConBust did pretty well for a first-year con. The staff is enthusiastic, the people who came were friendly, and there were many good panels and discussions held. On the down side, it was very small, and I was unable to run Valence 592 due to a lack of people. The uber-crappy weather did not help, of course (sleet and freezing rain on Friday and Saturday). Console did get run, and went rather well - despite the entire party nearly dying at the end, they managed to tackle Cryonax the Ice Wizard and defeat his evil plans. And isn't "the entire party almost died, but we won in the end" what everyone wants to be able to say at the end of a game?
I sold a few of our CDs, but didn't sell any printed copies of Valence. Hopefully next year there will be more people. Thye're off to a good start.
One of my first customers pointed out that the main rules as posted on the website are lacking something rather important: the crit tables! It's fixed now. Go to the main rules page to download a new copy. As some sort of bizarre side effect, the file size has decreased to 800 kB instead of 2 MB. Shrug.
Just as there is a new cover for the main rules, there is also now a new cover for Starbound. You can click on Starbound's link on the left to see a larger picture of it. For comparison, the old one is here. If you're curious, I have been using Bryce to make the new covers.
There is a new front cover for the Valence 592 main rulebook, which you can see on the left-hand navigation bar. Click there to go to that book's page, where you can see a larger version. It's basically just a better re-rendering of the previous cover. Our current stock of books still has the old cover, which can be seen here.
Everyone at Valent Games knows someone or has a family member who's over in the Middle East right now. We hope they come back home where they belong soon!
Console has been updated, with a newly redesigned battle system and better graphics! Go download a copy today! It is a bit larger (about 2.8 megs), so if you would like a smaller version, let me know.
We also have about 15 pages of new cultural descriptions for Valence 592. You can download it from that page. Let us know what you think!
Valent Games will be going to two conventions next month: ConBust at Smith College in Northampton, MA, and OurCon at UMass Amherst in Amherst, MA. If you're there, come see us and play in our games. We'll be running both Console and Valence.
Thanks to the people who make SimpleForum, Valent Games now has an even nicer little forum. You are welcome to come and post in it; it is significantly better than the one we had before. There's a link to it on the left-hand navigation bar.
I've also been working on layout for the new version of the main rulebook. I bought a version of InDesign this week (which is the program I'm going to be using), and it seems to work nicely. I'll post the new setting section when I get it finished (it might be as long as a month, though I hope not).
For the Console fans out there, don't worry, we haven't forgotten about your game! I have a redesigned battle system that's going into the game. Basically someone pointed out to me that there was a simpler way to do what we were already doing, so I said "Hey, that sounds good. Let me update the book." So sometime this week there should be an update to Console. It will get a bit larger due to nice graphical borders, so I'll try to keep the older version around for those with slow connections if the new one is much larger. And yes, the new version will be laid out on InDesign as well, instead of Word.
Busy month! Let's see if I can keep up the pace!
Because I felt like it, Valent Games now has its own little Discussion Forum. You can reach it through that link. I must stress that this is an exceedinly simple forum, and though it is a good one, what you see is what you get. Please be nice to it. :) If people treat the forum well, I'll keep it around.
There are already two topics posted there by me: one for the submission of errata, which will always be kept around, and one sort of "poll" topic about a feature I'd like to include in the next edition.
A few people at RPI convinced me to run a one-shot of Valence. It went pretty well (though I wish I could have worked some of the characters in a little better), and they gave me a lot of stuff to think about. There's been a decent-sized update to the Errata because of that game. There might be a few Web Exclusives as a result of it too (additions to the Backgrounds list), though they wouldn't really be web exclusives because some day they'll be added to the main rules. Hopefully I'll be able to run some more stuff with them and the game will grow a little because of it.
For those who are curious, the characters consisted of one Succubus Diplomat, two Valorians (one Tech Doc and one Bio Doc), and three Ultramercs (one Assassin, one Commander, and one Archmage). The Archmage had the screwiest body I've ever seen anyone create, all perfectly within the rules. They were running an infiltration mission for Genetech; if I told you more than that I'd have to kill you.
minor update: As I've been getting more comments from the con, I've added a few things to the webpage. Check out the Web Exclusives link above; we have a GM Screen for Console available. There's also another item on the Errata page, and I've put my profile up on the About Us page. There are also two more links to other game companies.
I went to Genericon this past weekend and had an absolute blast. They actually made me a guest! No kidding! See, I have a scan of my badge and everything!
I ran games of both Console and Valence, and both of them went over quite well. People had a really good time. There were a few bugs in the code for Dragoons, but those should be worked out in a week or so. I just have to figure out the best way to make them not invulnerable any more. :)
I met a bunch of interestingly-dressed cosplayers (some more interesting than others), and a bunch of cool people. I sold eight copies of Valence, and gave away many CDs containing Console and various goodies (all of which will be available here in another week or so). I also used the knot-tying skills I learned in the Outing Club to tie my badge on more securely:
All in all, it was a great time. Kudos to the people who put this con together. If anyone from the con wants to contact me, send e-mail to email@example.com and it'll get to me. Thanks!
Valent Games is back up and running (or at least a brisk walk). Our most recent work is Console (see link on left), a parody of console role-playing games such as Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star. Console will have its first convention run at Genericon XVI this January. As usual, Valence will also be run at Genericon.
The order form works! You can print it out and send it in with a check and we'll mail you a copy of the game. Click the "order" link on the left-hand side. I just got back from OurCon, which is a little gaming convention at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I had a fun time there. The only problem was that there were too many GM's and not enough players - Valence didn't get to run because of it. :( But at least I have pre-gens so I can run the same one some other time. Overall it was pretty fun, and I got to see some old friends there. Unfortunately, the game not running means I didn't have a chance to test out the M.A.C. rules. I'll see what I can do about getting them posted soon. It's almost the end of my school year, so I should have a little more free time about a month from now.
Hey, guess what - I found out why the PDF files turned out so big. Apparently it works better if you save to postscript and then convert to PDF. The new versions of chapters 1-4 of the main book are now up, and none of them are larger than 200k. Hope that helps.
Ooooooooookay, it's been a while, hasn't it? A new school term will do that, I guess. New stuff includes updates to the PDF's of chapters 1, 2, and 3 of the main rules (the ToC and HTML versions will be updated once we finish updating the rest of the chapters). The files are a lot larger now (some as big as one meg), but they have pretty pictures and some better rules. Current projects include a revamp of the main rules, finishing off the GM's book, and finally getting a good start on Andromeda.
The Site gets a major overhaul. The last design was a bit slow and not as impressive as we would like so we changed it. The best news though is that Valence 592 Online is back! That's right you can now view the main rules all in HTML. Just use the V592 Online link to the left. We also have a new treat from Andromeda. A new entry is in the Developer's Journal. You can find the old entries in the archives.
Cybercon is long done with, but we just recieved word from RPGHost (the guys who put on the con) that Harold Hoague of Raleigh, NC has won a copy of our main rulebook. Congradulations, Harry! As it's been a while between updates, I should probably tell you what's going on in the Wide World of Valence. First, the Andromeda game is going well. It's certainly generating a lot of material for the supplement. While our playtesters will get to see this material early on, don't expect to see a lot of it posted to the web until we have time to put it into a prettier format. Sean Edwards, previously of RPI, has volunteered to do some proofreading for us, so a lot of the little glitches in the main book will soon be caught and rectified. Go Sean! There will be an Errata posted some time before Groundhog day for the main book, and the version on the website will be updated. However, don't hold your breath for a revised printing - we still need to move the books we have in stock.
Cybercon is on! As with the first Cybercon, I'll be around on the message boards late at night, and I'm also running a game design forum on Saturday night, 10:00 PM.
Andromeda sneak-peek from Cybercon I:
Tech, trade, and aggressiveness, giving you a relative idea of where everyone stands.
A few notes about these listings:
- The Parasites and Dark Ones are not listed here because they exist outside of ordinary Andromedan culture. You could consider the Parasites to be: the most aggressive, about average for all technology, and do not trade. The Dark Ones seem to be: tops for both biotech and hardtech, about the only thing the they trade is knowledge, and do not fight except to defend themselves usually with non-lethal means.
- Aggressiveness can also mean ambition in this case. Most Elkin aren't your typical angry, warlike people, but they do try to go out and make a name for themselves.
- Any Andromedans will aggressively defend their homes, family, or lives, whether they're high on the aggressiveness list or not.
- The Idunok have a massive lead on the Hardtech list - they're at TL 5, while their closest competitors are at TL 2+ and have barely even discovered particle drives yet. Likewise, the Idunok are also very low on Biotech - they're only TL 3, while the Semarans through Ledomar are 4 and everyone above that is at varying levels of TL 5.
The Dark Ones
Arguably the most powerful species in either Andromeda or the Milky Way, the Dark Ones are the most respected species in Andromeda, bar none. Though their "guru-on-the-mountain" approach can occasionally be frustrating, their guidance and advice is sought more often than that of any other race.
They are five feet tall on average, with tight skin covering their bodies. They appear to be emaciated and almost skeletal. Nimble hands end in sharp, jagged claws which seem to leave a black trail in their wake. Few people in Andromeda can claim to have seen a Dark One fight - more often they simply use their massive command over the Lording to teleport away any attacker! Legends are still told of an entire Ledomar war fleet which simply vanished one day, reappearing in their own space with their engines drained.
Though their population is miniscule, and their legendary power is rarely seen, the Dark Ones are still a force in Andromeda. They sometimes act as advisors to diplomats and peacemakers (though rarely do they advise rulers). The Tebari and Naiseen seem to have the most respect from the Dark Ones, but they treat all other species with at least basic respect and dignity. They hold the sanctity of sentient life as the most important thing in the universe.
The Dark Ones when they leave their planet seem to travel individually in large ships often of dark colors as if they absorb light. These ships are more powerful then any other ship in the Andromeda galaxy. They have defeated entire fleets of aggressors. The ship itself often seems to be a living extension of the Dark One who pilots/owns it. While most governments will have an ambassador from the Dark Ones this Beings is still rarely seen although still more accessible then those on the home world.
A note for the sake of those who are eager to run an Andromeda game: the Dark Ones and the Parasites are, as far as we're concerned, strictly NPC species. The Parasites' amorality makes them almost impossible to integrate into a group, and the Dark Ones are simply too powerful for any but the most high-level game. All the other species, however, are designed as PC species. As another note, GM's who want to fool around with the Dark Ones should absolutely read the GM's book, at least the first chapter. For those interested in these types of games where a Dark Being is appropriate there is a handbook in the works that will detail not only the past of these beings but also some of the hidden history of the Archangels.
The Parasites are not particularly impressive from the outside. A small, hard shell and strong pincers protect a capable brain and little else. When caught outside a host, they are very vulnerable and will die of exposure in under a day. As their name implies, however, the Parasites depend entirely on other species for their survival. They are seen by all other Andromedan species as the greatest threat to their galaxy.
The Parasites are highly successful. Fully one third of Andromeda is under their sway - either infected by parasites or taken as slaves, to be used when the time comes.
The Parasites have two ways of infesting a host: they may burrow in through the skin to nest on the spinal column, or they may be injected as an egg, to eventually grow to dominance. No matter how they are embedded, they have complete control over their host. Only those with full organic TL-5 technology can remove them without killing the host, and even then it is a traumatic experience for both parasite and host.
Highly amoral, the Parasites care little for anyone else's ideas of good and evil. All they want to do is survive. This makes them evil in most people's books, since they don't care about their hosts and show no remorse for their actions. "Pure survival," they would say, "nothing worse than you eating a plant." With access to the host's memories and some amount of their skills, the Parasites have perhaps the strongest technological base in all of Andromeda, allowing them to fend off both the Krugen and Ledomar and still expand their territory.
Of all the species in Andromeda, only the Krugen, with their rocky interiors, are immune to the Parasites. Anyone else can be infected.
The youngest of Andromeda's species, the Elkin are a race of grazing animals which learned to stand upright. They have thick limbs, and sometimes still walk on all fours. Their hands have thick but nimble fingers which allow them good control over their tools and their environment. Ornate horns which grow on their heads once acted as weapons and mating challenges, but are now mostly decorative.
While their grasp of logic can be tenuous at best, the Elkin are by far the most creative and innovative species in Andromeda. Some lines of inquiry into biotech, long thought dead, have been reopened and yeilded amazing results. Even the age-old seedship of the Naiseen have been altered in the time since the Elkin arrived. While not everything they touch turns to gold - their lack of foresight sometimes turns against them - the Elkin have still altered the face of Andromeda forever.
At the current time, the Elkin are among the least populous species in Andromeda, but they do breed faster than most others, and are slowly spreading across the galaxy. Their time of leadership made them many allies, and nearly any Elkin will be well-recieved anywhere in Andromeda.
Beneath a rocky exterior lies... a rocky interior. The Krugen are a silicon-based species which developed on an airless moon. They are literally solid stone, able to withstand massive hits from most weapons. This quality has led them to be recruited as warriors by the more warlike factions in Andromeda. Even though they were not warlike when they entered the galactic community, years of being wooed as mercenaries has turned them into a warrior culture.
This has brought them into conflict with the Ledomar, who are used to filling that position themselves! The two species have been at odds ever since the Krugen appeared in the galaxy. They have become, in turn, the two species which hire others as mercenaries!
The two main conflicts the Krugen are embroiled in are with the Ledomar and the Parasites. The Krugen are particularly lucky in that they are the only species the Parasites cannot infect! Thus, they do not suffer the debilitating loss of population which many other species suffer from. The Krugen are also the toughest species in known space, which gives them a distinct advantage in ground-based operations. Thus, their lower technology and lack of Lording are not the drawbacks they could be. The Krugen are holding their own against both Ledomar harassment and a concerted assault from the Parasites.
Physically, they are approximately five feet tall and ten feet long, with six powerful legs and a lizard-like tail and head. They are built like a bulldog, and can rear up on their back four feet to deliver a ram or rake with their strong front claws. The can manipulate objects with a dexterous tongue (don't worry, no drool), which can lift a surprising amount.
Coming from an isolated part of Andromeda, the Idunok are a very secretive species. Their technology is a flip-flop of regular Andromedan tech - they have very high inorganic technology, including cybernetics, but relatively weak biotech. This inversion is probably due to their very restrictive trade practices - they seem to have discovered all of their technology on their own.
Idunok are carbon-based with a very high amount of metals in their system. Other than that, they are very humanoid in appearance. They have sloping foreheads, vestigial claws on their fingers and toes, sharp teeth, and strong jaws. Their skin has a greyish shade to it, and their eyes are usually yellow, green, or pale blue.
All Idunok require a daily intake of heavy metals and chemicals which could kill most other races in under an hour. They do not require living creatures for their food - they require dead ones. About a week dead, in fact. They still will only eat meat which has been properly "aged," and the occasional root or other vegetable for nutrients. The Idunok are also cannibals, eating their own dead. the tradition of a "death feast," where the deceased is honored by being the main course, is very strong among the Idunok.
The Idunok and Lording don't mix, which could explain their lack of trade with the rest of Andromeda. Both as a species and as individuals, Idunok will tend to get skittish, agitated, and sometimes really scared around Lording. The species as a whole has such an abysmal Lording index that it's nearly impossible for them to ever learn a power, spell, ritual, or anything of the sort.
Another plant-descendant species like the Tebari and Nesti, the Scholars much more contemplative than either one. Their mental processes, while slow, are perhaps the most efficient and powerful in all the five galaxies. They even give the Valorians a run for their money.
If Andromeda can be seen as a giant organism, each species has its part to play. The Tebari are the brain, determining who's in charge and what takes precedence. The Naiseen are like the heart, pumping vital materials to all parts of the organism. The Krugen and Ledomar are antibodies, fighting off the infection of the Parasites. The Scholars, then are the nervous system, controlling and distributing knowledge. They act as teachers and information merchants, selling technical know-how and scientific understanding.
If there is one way in which the minds of Scholars truly excel, it is their memory. They have perfectly photographic memory, and can recall the smallest detail of their senses. Though their senses are not the equal of the Valorians', they can often compensate by checking their memory for clues they may have missed.
Physically, the Scholars are flower-like organisms three feet tall and five feet across. Like the Tebari they are descendant from plants. The Scholars are a slow species, but their natural camoflague protects them in the wild. They have a large, crab-like body which can open like a venus fly-trap. Their appendages stretch outwards from there. A dozen or more ropy tendrils take the place of legs, and two sensitive flower-covered branches act as their arms. Their language is unpronouncable by the other Andromedan species, so they are known simply as the Scholars.
A race with a terrifying visage, the Ytriani are actually one of the least aggressive species in Andromeda. Their only known war with another species was the Ytriani/Ledomar conflicts, back in 17 million BC. Today they are known as contemplative mystics who keep to themselves and provide sanctuary for political dissidents and others who cannot live within the system.
The Ytriani look much like tarantulas, but they are a full twelve feet across and five feet tall. Their size hides a speed which can only be matched by a Semaran in its native environment. When the Naiseen discovered the Ytriani, they were afraid that this quick, fearsome-looking species would go on to conquer the galaxy. After a few years of observation, however, the Naiseen learned the truth: the Ytriani have a belief system based on meditation, self-improvement, and, above all, calm.
They are also known for having some of the most beautiful structures in all the galaxy. Their own silk is used to create hanging cities in the trees of their worlds, with cathedral-like ceilings and elegant suspension bridges. Their art is second only to that made by the Elkin. In terms of trade and technology, however, the Ytriani are far behind most other species. Most Ytriani are not interested in outsiders, and spend their lives on their home planets. This attitude leads to a lack of trade, and a resulting lack of new technology.
The Ledomar are a small flying species who resemble extra-large bats. They have a wingspan of about a meter, with a small furred body in the center. Tiny hands halfway down their wings allow them to grasp objects and use tools, though they cannot lift much.
Like nearly all Andromedans, the Ledomar are herbivorous, eating no animal products. However, they evolved on a world where many predators existed. Instead of taking the Krugen route and becoming big and strong to evade predators, they became small, fast, and vicious. So much trouble were they to eat that none of the predators considered the tiny creatures worthwhile.
Once they were contacted by the Naiseen, the Ledomar brought their feisty nature with them into space. They quickly outlined their territory and dared any to enter it. Unfortunately, in 17 million BC, that's just what the Ytriani did. As peaceful as the Ytriani were, they simply didn't belive that the Ledomar were doing anything but bluffing. Calmly, confidently, they claimed part of Ledomar space for their own, thus precipitating one of the worst conflicts Andromeda has ever known. Today the two species are not enemies, but have little to do with each other (especially considering that the Ytriani rarely trade with other species).
Of all the species in Andromeda, the Argai are the most factionated. Each group of Argai holds a single concept or emotion to be the most important of all. It seems that for each breif thought that flashes through a living being's mind, a group of Argai exist which venerates that thought. And, of course, another group exists which believes the exact opposite! Thus, the potentially most powerful species in Andromeda is paralyzed with infighting. Although they understand that other species may hold different ideas, the concept that members of their own species might hold "wrong" ideas is just unacceptable.
The Argai look essentially human. Most humans would find them relatively attractive, as they are universally well-muscled and well-built. Their skin is perfectly black, much like the skin of the Dark Inuueliting. Most Argai appear female, but a small percentage (about 5%) appear male. In actuality they are sexless, reproducing at will.
Most amazing is that they seem to be constructed entirely out of nanotechnology, giving them some control over their internal structure and energy flow. They can communicate with each other and sense each other's presence at close range; therefore, many rulers have an Argun advisor whole job is simply to detect Argai assassins. Despite their unusual physiology, the Argai are not immune to the Parasites.
There are many theories as to where the obviously artificial Argai came from. They themselves do not know, though they have many myths. The Dark Ones are characteristically silent on this matter.
The Semarans are an amphibious, titanium-based species. This alone makes them different from any other known species. Their skin is slick, shiny, and reflective, giving them the appearance of being living metal. They ooze through the water, and move about on land much like a snake. Though their natural state is somewhat blob-like, they can form strong pseudopods to hold and manipulate things, and can stretch and compress their body to fit through small spaces.
Another unique thing about the Semarans is the slowness with which they change old ideas. Since so much in their lives is fluid, from their environment to their bodies, the Semarans believe that thought is the only thing which remains constant and unchanging. More adaptable species such as Humanity and the Elkin would no doubt disagree, but the Semarans cling to old ideas as long as they can. It can take them generations to accept a relatively simple change. Even today, their sciences hold many misconceptions and are years behind the rest of Andromeda.
The Semarans are perhaps the one species in Andromeda which has no special agenda of its own. They are content in general to live and let live, and are not often interested in territorial expansion. Thus, they are often asked to settle disputes, to take care of important devices or territory, and to be bankers for the galaxy. If nothing else, they are reliable.
The Tebari are a species of genetic supremacists. They insist that one species is fit to rule above all others. Luckily for Andromeda, the Tebari haven't found that species yet! Most genetic supremacists believe that, naturally, their own kind must be the ideal. The Tebari instead believe that they will come to discover and serve this ideal race, and thus be the favored ones. It is because of this attitude, and their location near Starhome, that the Tebari were granted stewardship of Andromeda.
Tebari culture is based around trials, games and competition. It was how they used to pass the time before their genetic structure was altered by the Naiseen to make them mobile. They will most likely test the species of the Milky Way once contact is established. No doubt many in the Milky Way will try to fix things so that their own species is considered first!
The Tebari are green-skinned plant-descendants. They look like a mass of thick vines twisted together into a millipede. They are seven feet long on average, and can "sit up" to be 5-6 feet tall. They can climb most vertical surfaces just like an insect, though smooth surfaces like glass are impossible.
The Naiseen are a race of space-based creatures who live in watery nebulae throughout Andromeda. They look like large jellyfish, about two meters in diameter, with a one meter high shell, and tentacles which can be up to thirty meters long. They have a hard shell instead of a soft cup as a "head." This shell is partially resistive to space radiation and is very strong - it can take a number of hits from small, slow space debris without cause for alarm. They have a number of small "mouths" that line their retractable string-size tentacles. These mouths are soft, fleshy, and very prone to damage, so the Naiseen have a habit of feeding while curled up into a ball, where they use their collective outer shells to protect their innards.
The Naiseen use a form of Lording-based tesseract for communication between nebulae, which takes at least a day to complete. They are a loosely structured people, with leaders of each Nebulae chosen from the Kalai Katheen who together form the Voice of the Naiseen. Once communication is established they can maintain it for half the amout of time they used to meditate and make communication.
As one of the oldest species in Andromeda, the Naiseen are a focal point of trade and cohesion. They discovered nearly all of the other species in Andromeda, and they single-handedly supply almost all of that galaxy's starships. By focusing the resources of the Tebari, the brainpower of the Scholars, and the creativity of the Elkin, they have fashioned most of the galaxy's biotech. In short, they are one of Andromeda's most important species, and no one can afford to ignore them.
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