End of Year Accounts

The more-or-less end of the year is an appropriate time to do an assessment of how well this reckless endeavour has gone. Records go from 3/6/14 to 30/12/14.

Sales have remained somewhat flat since the beginning. This is neither spectacular nor terrible. I'm playing for the long game, eventually the back catalogue will be so large and knowledge of it be so common that it will quietly start to turn a profit. At least that's the plan. Being excellent is easy, being consistent is hard.

I must stress here that there is no inherent nobility in running at a loss. I take no pride in it, it is not a good thing and I will put a stop to it as soon as I'm able. If you make something good and worthy you should be compensated and sustained by it.

Commissions are where the money goes. From the beginning I aimed to get to a point where I could pay professional rates and have consistently pushed them up there. Still, from this point I would need to triple them to match something like Weird Tales. Not happening any time soon. At some point I'd like to be able to pay myself similarly. Long game.

Net income: Around -£100 and 60something copies from breaking even. Pretty damn good considering the costs of replacing a printer are included there.

So other than numbers, what did we learn?

  • I'd like to think I'm easy to work with but who knows. Either way, when working closely with another I feel the work is definitely stronger.
  • I have absolutely no idea how good/bad The Undercroft is. I'm not used to this distance from the audience and am endlessly frustrated with it. Unless you hear the sincerity in their words, praise or criticism is hard to take too seriously.
  • As I said the last time I did this, reviews are hard. I don't think a zine is a very reviewable thing, I know I've tried and failed. Do you talk about the work itself? What if it's an anthology work? Is the writing or collecting more important?
  • I still dislike talking to people over the internet. You either sound hysterical or like an arsehole when tippety-typing.

What next?

  • I want to get weirder. Everything so far has been quite tame and in the bounds of what you'd expect from a supplement. Some people have been funny about demon boobs on the cover of #3, I'd like to explore that discomfort some more. Not just through nudity and shock value (although sure, why not), but other ways.
  • Bigger projects. There are 2 books in different stages of development that have taken ideas that were originally going to be blog posts or zine articles. There is a definite A, B, and C class system going on (you're currently looking at the C game).
  • More issues. Short of me dying, I won't stop.

Hopefully someone finds this stuff interesting or useful. I certainly appreciated others doing similar when I was starting.

Humourous Henchmen

I have never remembered what a henchman's morale is. Call me heartless, but they all look the same and are never around long enough to care or find the scrap of paper I pretended to write it down on. Besides, if I got attached to every one of them I wouldn't be able to do my job (i.e. killing henchmen).

So, henchman morale checks; or the "does my henchman run off with all my stuff" roll.

When you meet them you roll for what kind of temperament the henchman possesses and you write it down right there where the players track what the poor fellow is hauling around for them. The dominant humours are listed with the roll penalties used on the following tables:

Sanguine -1
Choleric +1
Melancholic 0
Phlegmatic +2

(the traits of each are listed at the end and may help characterise a henchman that no one much cares for)

To use a past example of a henchmen, who bravely took their own life, we would record their name down as follows:

Volrath the Phlegmatic Foreigner

Possibly. Or you could write it down on a scrap of paper and forget about it, much like you traditionally do with their secret morale. Or not use them at all and just roll.

If they are asked to open a suspicious door or otherwise perform dangerous tasks on your behalf in a capacity outside of their job description:

1-2 Happy to be of assistance
3-4 They do it, but if they are harmed by the experience their faith in you will be rattled  (a 1 cumulative malus on all rolls this adventure)
5-6 They refuse

When asked to guard a pile of gold so large that they could run away and start a new life with it:

1 They cut and run
2 They make a secret nest egg. Steal 2d10 coins per pocket! (They do this without the player's knowledge and will not respond well to random checks. They're sociopathic adventurers as well, don't you know)
3-4 They palm a few coins. 2d10 coins or one small easily concealed item.
5-6 Honest and true

If one of their number dies or some other horrifying event occurs in front of them:

1 Run! Run away!
2-3 Frozen for a number of rounds equal to the number rolled
4-6 Business as usual

How much trouble can a wealthy armed killer get into with his downtime? (Roll this at the start of an adventure or some other convenient in-between bit. Minus 1 to this roll for every full 5 points of damage they took in their last outing; they need to let off steam after almost dying in this dead-end job)

1 Lots, roll twice

2 Some, roll once
3-6 None

Roll D44, do not add humour bonus.
11 They got drunk and talkative at the local social club. Every secret you have that they could reasonably know, they've told in great detail to everyone listening. Expect unpleasant surprises.
12 Your pockets are lightened. The henchman has taken their fair share (in their eyes) and skipped town. Leaving with a recently acquired macguffin, perhaps?
13 They join a competing adventuring company who have just moved into the area.
14Their sketchy past catches up with them. 1, they get killed in their sleep 2-6 their old enemy turns up and starts causing trouble.
21 They start their own competing adventuring company
22 They gambled and lost. They are not only now broke, they owe money to the local seedy underbelly. This can not be resolved by just killing a bunch of guys, the mafiosi will sneak into your inn and stab you while you sleep if you get handsy with them.
23 They elope with a local lover. Skip the next game and return with +1 to all rolls for an adventure due to the refreshing break.
24 A man/woman comes forward as your henchman's illegitimate/abandoned child. 3 in 6 chance it's true. They will either want compensation or to follow in their parent's footprints and join you, whichever is most inconvenient or interesting.
31 A fight breaks out, most likely started by the restless henchman. They take 5d8 damage in bar-room shanking damage.
32 They got arrested on counts of: 1-2 Theft 3-4 Assault 5 Murder 6 All of the aforementioned
33 They went on a legendary bender. Drink, drugs, girls, boys, now! Their hang over is of such magnificent beauty that they nurse it all through the next adventure, suffering -2 to every roll involving thinking or moving.
34 They've been recruited into the Potters Guild militia. They're off to Loch Doldrum to fight the Mud Men and take their precious clay. Steady work, good pay.
41 Their wife/husband has come to retrieve their wayward spouse. Deal with it.
42 They dipped their wick in one too many pots. Syphilis! See Undercroft #1 or just make it up.
43 Drunk in a ditch somewhere. Alive but they miss the next adventure as they find their way home. 
44 Caught in a riddling contest with a retired servant of the Manticore. If they pass an intelligence test they win a trinket from the Manticore's old horde (it will be relatively inoffensive) and D1000 XP.

Friendly, Energetic, Forgiving, Confident, Charming, Talkative
Weak-willed, Egotistical, Gullible, Shallow, Disorganized, Self-absorbed

Takes the lead, Independent, Hard worker, Strong-willed, Practical, Determined
Cruel, Rebellious, Stubborn, Insensitive, Arrogant, Rude

Thoughtful, Faithful, Self-sacrificing, Analytical, Organized, Practical
Pessimistic, Morose, Vengeful, Insecure, Shy, Jealous

Dependable, Patient, Accommodating, Witty, Calm,  Forgiving,
Docile, Indecisive, Lazy, Stubborn, Indifferent, Yielding,

The Undercroft #3 is out and proud

Oh me oh my, it's happened again.

We have golems seeking treasure while England is upturn'd; wise men and cunning folk, lead by a Dark Star to the Fern Court; and the story of a young man, an old man, & a bridge.

Cover by +Jeremy Duncan, illustrations by +Matthew Adams and +Jim Magnusson.

Writing by +Alex Clements+Barry Blatt and my fine self.

Now on sale. Treat yourself, buy one for the kids, stick them under the Christmas tree and surprise your mum.

Arthurian encounters by the roadside

A white stag bursts from the undergrowth, stops in your path and makes eye contact. For that split second you are all transfixed by its evident majesty, and then it bounds away. Eating its flesh will heal all heart sickness, it's pelt will swaddle the future king, and a crown made from the creature's bones will make the wearer beloved by man and feared by fae.

A young man has stationed himself at the opposite side of a bridge. He challenges you as you approach to single combat so that he may earn his knighthood. Behind him is a tent, a fire pit, and a selection of helmets sitting on top of weapons rudely struck into the ground. If you wade through the river instead of using the bridge he will insult you and question your honour but otherwise not interfere.

The road ahead has been furrowed and the forest on either side is shattered and torn. The giants would never wander this far south, you tell yourself, but the birds speaks volumes in their silence.

A body lays in the middle of the track at the end of a long trail of blood. On inspection his teeth are missing and his eyes have been struck out. There are tiny feathered spines still in the sockets and a silver coin under his tongue.

The path ends suddenly. Perhaps your attention has flagged and your feet have wandered or maybe your map is too old. You turn to retrace your steps and the path behind you is gone. Thick forest abounds.

A knight is struggling by the roadside with who-knows-what. He is quite frantic and looks like he is wrestling with something vicious, but on approaching you discover his sword has just become stuck in the scabbard and he is angrily trying to draw it out by bracing it between his legs and pulling. If you offer to help him he will grumpily accept. After some embarrassing pulling and falling and swearing he throws the sword to the ground and stomps off towards the nearest town ranting about not being stingy when it comes to scabbards. The sword is magical in some rather mundane sense.