Friday, October 18, 2013

Post-Fundraiser Stonehell Sequel Status Report

This is a brief update for the period immediately following the Save Stonehell Fundraiser from last week. As promised, now that I’ve restored myself to the 21st century and have the means to continue working on the dungeon, I’ve spent the last seven days getting back to business. Some time was spent acquiring my new system and the programs needed to access and edit the existing draft of the sequel and its map components, but, despite that, the project moves along.

As of this morning, three more quadrants are completed, meaning their maps saw their final tweaks, the drafts went through preliminary edits, and they been added to the rough layout of the book. For those of you following along at home, this means that I’ve hit the two-thirds completed mark and only nine more quadrants remain to be finished. I remain optimistic we’ll have a finished draft by month’s end and a completed Stonehell Dungeon by the end of December. Of course, any delay could through this schedule out of whack, but I’m keeping my head down and pushing on.

There are existing projects that I need to work on, all of which were assigned prior to the fundraiser, but these are small ones that shouldn’t eat into too much time to work on the sequel. One will be completed this afternoon, while the second is due in mid-November. Until the end of the month, Stonehell will be my primary concern, and I’m aiming to have the draft ready for editing by that time. Once it’s prepared, my next step will be acquiring art for the book to prepare the cover and the interior layout after the editing process is finished. After those steps are finished, it’s just a short sprint across the finish line with proof copies and final changes.

Since I have a bunch of new bosses, I’ll continue to make weekly progress reports throughout this stage of the process (preliminary editing, map changes, and draft layout). They may become bi-weekly during the editing and art phase since that’s all work that will be out of my direct control and I’ll be dependent on others for progress through that period. Nevertheless, I look forward to keeping everyone informed and I hope you’re getting as excited as I am that the final Stonehell book is nearing completion.

I'll be posting status reports over on both the Google+ Stonehell Dungeon page and the Facebook Stonehell Group. If you're not yet circled or joined those groups, now it the perfect time to do so to ensure you get the news first, as I'm not certain I'll be detailing the process as thoroughly here on the blog.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thank You

The Save Stonehell Fundraiser (which swiftly became the “pay what you want” release of Convention Specials: Revealed) is finished. Actually, it was finished two hours after it started, surprising the hell out of me. Due to your overwhelming generosity, my efforts to raise $300.00 to cover or defray the cost of getting my old computer repaired or replaced was met six times over. One hundred and nine of you contributed to meeting that goal, resulting in a total of $1889.63 in contributions and purchases of the limited-edition PDF. I am astounded.

In all honesty, I thought I’d be lucky to reach the $300.00 mark over the course of the week. You proved me wrong and for that I’m deeply appreciative. I now have 109 new bosses, so I’d better get to work on finishing that sequel.

As to dispersal of the money raised, here’s the anticipated breakdown: Half of it goes to replacing my ancient computer, upgrading the few programs I need, and purchasing a backup power-supply. I’ve not owned a computer that wasn’t second-hand since the turn of the millennium, and owning one without “quirks” is a new experience for me.

The remaining money is going towards two other goals. Firstly, I’ll cover some monthly bills with it. This means I can turn down a project or two and devote all my time to finishing Stonehell 2. Lack of time and breathing room has been the book’s greatest enemy and is largely the reason it keeps getting delayed. With the surplus raised, I can say “no” to another gig or two in the short term to finish the sequel. This will be both a boon to everyone who has been waiting patiently for it, and to myself, who wants to get the damned thing done and remove the millstone from around my neck.

Secondly, a portion of the remaining money is to be paid forward. Since I ended up with far more money than I anticipated, it only stands to reason that others benefit from my good fortune. There’s a number of worthy causes out there more deserving of assistance than my First World problem. I mean to do my part to help now that I can.

In regards to the two sets of original notes I promised, each of those has a new home. One is going to the North Texas RPG Convention. I’m not certain what plans Doug and Mike have for those pages, but I can’t think of a better home for them. There, they’ll either find a place of security or make their way into someone’s collection.

The second set goes to a very generous contributor who paid a few dollars extra to bump him into second place. That contributor will receive the remaining set of notes after NTRPG Con makes their decision as to which one they want.

Let me close by again thanking you all for contributing or buying the PDF. Your generosity and fellowship has both inspired me and humbled me. I will continue to endeavor to sustain your faith in my ability to produce interesting and entertaining material for your games.

Very sincerely,


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fundraiser Update 10.9.13

We're reaching the last 24 hours of the fundraiser, and I'd like to again thank everyone who donated. Yesterday, I replaced my broken, aged computer with a new Dell Inspiron and will soon be back at full production. I’ve one small piece I’m contracted to finish, and then it’s on to Stonehell 2 full-time. Your generosity has made that possible.

There are still three donors tied for who shall receive the original notes for one of the adventures. These three contributors each donated $100.00, and if you were one of those kind souls, you’re in the running for my notes. The last thing I want to do is encourage more donation as you all gone above and beyond my expectation, but if one of those three were to contribute even $1.00, that’d break the tie and ensure that party ownership of the original adventure. I’ll leave that up to you all to decide if you desire adventure that much or are willing to determine the receiver by a die-roll.

According to my records, every donor has been sent their copy of the PDF as of 10:45 AM EST, today. If you didn’t receive yours, please check your spam folder and then contact me. I’ll make sure you get your copy. For those of you who have your copy, I hope you’re enjoying them!

Remember that I’ll be officially pulling the plug on the fundraiser/”pay what you want” release at noon EST time tomorrow. At that time, the donation button comes down and the Stonehell Dungeon—Convention Specials: Revealed supplement goes away for good. You have roughly 25 hours remaining.

Thank you all once again for your extreme generosity and fellowship. No matter if you contributed $1.00 or $100.00, your help is greatly appreciated. Without you, I’d been sidelined from making any progress on either Stonehell or other projects until at least the turn of the year. You’ve made it possible for this writer to write, and you don’t know how much that means to me.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DCC RPG #80: Intrigue at the Court of Chaos is now available for pre-order

At the mercy of Chaos! Abducted by the Court of Chaos, the adventurers face hard choices if they want to return home. The Host of Chaos desires a legendary artifact held by the Scions of Law and need patsies to retrieve it. Faced with an eternity of servitude, the party must sneak into the Plane of Law and steal the Yokeless Egg from under its guardians’ watch. But not all is what it appears when the Court of Chaos is concerned and serving the Host may destroy the party from within. Can they survive the Intrigue At the Court of Chaos? Link

Rules Set: DCC RPG
Writer: Michael Curtis
Cover Art and Cartography: Doug Kovacs

Monday, October 7, 2013

Spellburn Episode #11: Curtis vs. Stroh

A brief interlude: In this week's episode of Spellburn, Harley Stroh and I make return appearances to the podcast to demonstrate the spell duel mechanics in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. There's a lot of smack talk and even more laughs as we show why you don't need to be intimidated when adjudicating two (or more!) spell-slingers facing off in wizardly combat. Here's the episode link.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fundraiser Update (10.04.13)

Let me again thank everyone who contributed to help solve what is, quite frankly, a First World problem and not nearly as deserving as a lot of other good causes. I'm astounded and humbled by the outpouring of goodwill.

As of 8:56 AM EST, every contributor has been sent their PDF of Stonehell Dungeon--Convention Specials: Revealed. If you haven't received yours, please check your spam folder first and then drop me a line to let me know it didn't turn up. I'll make sure you get it as promised.

Also as promised, I will be giving out the original notes, maps, and other materials from the adventures included in the PDF to two generous contributors. One is definitely spoken for and that donor has first choice as to which of the adventures he'd like. The second one will go to the donor who contributed the next highest amount. At the moment, three generous donors contributed $100.00 each and I'll be randomly determining the recipient of the second adventure from those three.

The PDFs will remain available as a "pay what you want" release until Thursday, October 10th at 12 PM EST. I also intend to remove the donation button from the blog at that time, as well. You've already been extremely generous and I have no desire to wear out my welcome!

Thanks again to you all,


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Status on PDFs

As of 4:19 EST, everyone who contributed to the fundraiser and I received notification about has had their "thank you" PDF sent to them. If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. If you received the email but the PDF wasn't attached for some reason (in other words, I screwed up), please let me know.

The Save Stonehell Fundraiser (UPDATED!)

Important Announcement!

In an unbelievable stroke of generosity, I've reached my goal (and then some) for the fundraiser in an unimaginable short time. The gift was so generous that this unnamed individual will have the choice of either both sets of my original notes for the adventures or one of his choosing. Should he wish just the one, I'll be giving the other set to the next highest donor in thanks for all the good will I've received in less than two hours.

So for the record, I'll be able to replace my aging computer and get back on with finishing the sequel. However, I promised to keep this fundraiser going for a full week to allow people access to the limited edition PDF. I intend to keep that promise. All additional funds raised from this point forward will be applied towards other expenses. This allows me to actually turn down additional freelance projects (not counting those I've already committed myself to) in the short term so that I can concentrate on getting the sequel completed before year's end. However, I know not everyone may not wish to contribute towards that goal, and I wanted to be honest with all you very fine and unbelievably generous people. So consider the PDF to be more of a "pay what you want" product than a true fundraiser from now until next Thursday.

I am deeply in awe of you all. I've said this before, but writing is an extremely lonesome profession and I'm seldom aware of how much people enjoy my work until I get out on the convention trail and meet fans face-to-face. Your contributions this afternoon have astounded me, and I remain gobsmacked at the generosity and humanity of you all. From the bottom of my heart, I extend my thanks. I will endeavor to continue producing work of my finest caliber for your enjoyment. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Very most sincerely,


My friends, Stonehell Dungeon is cursed.

I’m not speaking of the manifold magical enchantments that lurk within, but rather a real world phenomenon that has plagued the dungeon since its inception. Back in 2009, when I was assembling the first book, my computer decided it would be a good time to cook its motherboard right when I was at the tail end of putting together the book. Some work was lost, but I was able to get my hoary computer repaired and complete the book. Now, history has repeated itself.

You may have noticed that I’ve had little to report either here or on the various forums and social media dedicated to chronicling the sequel. This is because nothing has been accomplished for reasons outside of my control. A few weeks ago, my computer decided to become twitchy, and then undergo a series of catastrophic failures. I’m typing this on a loaned laptop, which is how I’ve been connecting to the ether the past three weeks.

As with many things in life, catastrophe seldom comes when it’s convenient, and my computer giving up the ghost for good is no exception. My machine died just when finances are at their worst and, after pursuing my budget, it’s apparent it may be several months before I can afford repairs or replace the ancient computer. At this point, it’s probably the same cost to do either. Frankly, that’s a delay I do not want to endure.

To this end, I’ve decided to appeal to the fans of the dungeon to help get things back on track and to finish the book before year’s end as anticipated. Beginning today and running for one week, I’m holding the Save Stonehell Fundraiser in hopes of helping cover or at least defray the cost of getting myself back into the modern age and finish the sequel. I’m not one to ask for charity often and hate to do so, but this is one case where I feel appealing to the fans of Stonehell Dungeon in particular, and my work in general, is justified since it helps me get the book out and into your hands all the sooner. Both of us benefit in the long run.

However, rather than ask for pure charity, the Save Stonehell Fundraiser rewards you for your assistance. For the next seven days, anyone who donates any amount to the fund will receive a special PDF of seldom-seen Stonehell material. This PDF, Stonehell Dungeon—Convention Specials: Revealed, contains two special adventures set in and around Stonehell Dungeon, adventures previously only experienced by a small handful of people who played through them at conventions. After next week, I’ll no longer be distributing this PDF and its mysterious contents will return to my private archive of work for good.

The 16-page supplement contains “The Hidden Vault of Evaders Noan”, an adventure designed for 3rd level PCs that was first run at the 3rd Annual Dave Arneson Memorial Game Day in 2011, and “The Great Stonehell Lazer Massacre,” run exclusively at this year’s NTRPG Con. In addition to the adventures, the PDF contains a number of “Behind the Scenes” sidebars that discuss dungeon design choices, humorous anecdotes, and actual events that occurred when running these adventures. Much like Stonehell Dungeon Supplement Two: Buried Secrets, there is almost no art in the supplement (but there is a cool piece of map clarification by Jim Wampler), meaning the pages are jam-packed with goodies. If you own that supplement, you know what to expect.

As noted above, it doesn’t matter if you can spare $1.00 or $100.00. All contributors receive a copy of the PDF as a “thank you” for your generosity. I’ll endeavor to email your copy within 24 hours of being notified of your contribution. The PDF will be sent to the default email address associated with the contributor’s PayPal account unless otherwise specified by the donor. The PDF is 883 kb in size, so if you expect your email provider may have issues with a file of that size, let me know and I'll make other arrangements to get it to you.

But that’s not all. To further show my appreciation (and to possibly convince you to donate generously), the two contributors who donate the most to the Save Stonehell Fundraiser will receive a special thank you: my own personal copies of the adventures, including my hand-drawn maps, notes, and other annotations that accrued through actual play. I will personally mail each of those two contributors one of the adventures and provide extra customization (an autograph, a letter of provenance, a stick figure drawing of a Viking riding a whale, etc.) as desired. The contributor who donates the most will get first choice of the two adventures, with the second highest donor receiving the other. In the event of multiple donors contributing the same amount, I’ll determine the recipient randomly using a good old polyhedral.

At the end of each day, I’ll post in the comments below the highest contributions to date. This way, if you really want a shot of one of the adventures, you’ll know the goal to hit or exceed. Multiple donations by one person will be totaled when determining the two recipients of my personal notes, so if you give more than once, all your contributions will be applied when making the determination of the most generous donors.

How to Help Out

EDIT: Should be working now. Thank you!

On the upper right of this blog is a Paypal Donation button. If you wish to contribute to the fund, please use that button to give. I’m hoping to raise around $300.00 during the next seven days, which will either cover the cost to get my nine-year-old, second-hand PC restored to life or allow me to purchase a budget economy tower from the local electronics box store. If thirty fans of Stonehell contribute $10.00 each, my goal is reached and I can accelerate the return to working on both Stonehell and other projects, clearing my plate clean by 2014. Give what you can, however, if you’re so inclined.

Let me conclude by both thanking you in advance for your generosity and for you constant patience in waiting for the final Stonehell book. The dungeon is getting close to completion and, with your help now, will soon go from a long-standing promise unfulfilled to something you can read, use, and keep on your shelf for years to come.