A Production Mode

Michael O. Varhola

Game publishing has got three major phases associated with it. Product development is perhaps the most quintessential associated with our trade and involves writing, playtesting, and interacting with authors, and is perhaps the most "fun" in a traditional sense.  The most public of these phases is, of course the convention season, when we release, display, and demonstrate our products our products for the people we hope will buy them. Production, when we edit, collect art for, and layout and design the games and books that have been developed, written and playtested, is  certainly the most labor intensive of the three main phases, but also one of the most crucial.

And, with the convention season pretty much done for the year, the production phase is the one we are currently immersed in. 

Two weeks ago, I planned to write a piece for this space on the three publications we were in production with at that point but did not get around to it and, as of last week, the subject of my commentary had grown to four projects. As of this writing, however, we are currently in full production with five projects! In the more than 20 years that I have been involved in publishing, this is the first time that I have had some many projects in play at one time — and not five projects due for release at some vague point in the future, but rather all ones whose publication is imminent. Those projects, more-or-less in order of their probable release dates, are: 

Wisdom from the Wastelands #17: Artifact Conditions (October 9). Jointly written by authors Chris Van Deelen and Derek Holland, this publication is dedicated to providing useful information, game content, and ideas to players of modern, science fiction, and post-apocalyptic table-top and role-playing games in general and to fans of Goblinoid Games’Mutant Future RPG in particular. Artifacts, like magical items in fantasy games, are treasures sought by the adventurers that brave the mutant-infested ruins of the Ancients’ world. But often these treasures are in less than pristine condition due to factors such as age, neglect, or misuse, and in this issue Van Deelen puts these concepts into game terms. 

The Jester Dragon's Guide to Defects (October 16). One of the most innovative elements Skirmisher introduced to the OGL/d20 game system when it released its groundbreaking book Nuisances in 2004 was that of the Defect, and in the expanded version of that book we include 59 of these "anti-Feats." A number of us have continued to expand upon these fun and innovative elements, none less than William T. Thrasher, and he is the driving force, co-author, and artist behind an expanded book that includes a full 238 Defects! Samples of these and information on how they can be used in the game can be found on this site's Forum. 

Insults & Injuries (October 30). Written by Dr. Eric Lis, M.D., this fascinating book looks at diseases, wounds, poisons, and other medical concerns and puts them into game terms and also includes "crunch" elements like Feats, prestige classes, and spells. Like our classic titles Experts and City Builder, this sourcebook is earnest and useful in every and my expectation is that it will quickly become one that many game masters like to keep within reach during their game sessions.  Why expose your characters to improbable maladies like "cackle fever" when you have got game terms for pneumonia, tuberculosis, and hepatitis? 

Swords of Kos: Hekaton (November 13). This multi-author fiction anthology ties in with the second title in our new swords-and-sorcery line of fantasy fiction and follows my ownSwords of Kos: Necropolis. It includes a dozen stories and features the work of about 20 veteran authors and artists, including writers R.M. Aislin, Brendan Cass, Sharon Daugherty, David Fitzgerald, John Giddens, Lissanne Lake, Dr. Eric Lis, Chris Van Deelen, and myself, and artists Amanda Kahl, Josh Routt, Phillippe St. Gerard, along with Daugherty and Lake, who illustrate their own stories. This book is part of one of the most exciting and massive projects we have ever undertaken, the "Swords of Kos" fantasy campaign setting and shared-world fiction projects, which will tie together much of what we have done as company over the past 10 years. 

Game Retailer Guide (November 27). One of the few non-gaming books we have ever published, this comprehensive handbook book by business guru Lloyd Brown III more than meets our standard for being "useful and earnest." It contains everything a current or prospective game store owner needs to know to set up and run a successful establishment. 

And those are just the things we are in production with at the moment! As they are completed and released, others will take their place. Between those publications and the five issues of Wisdom from the Wastelands that will follow the one we have listed, Skirmisher Publishing will be releasing 10 new titles between now and the end of the year, nearly one new release a week. We will let you know about them as they are published and sincerely hope you will find them to be both enjoyable and useful!