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Holidays in Gaming

Are you using holidays in your game? If you were like me when starting out as a game master, no you’re not. Yet holidays mark various places on the calendar, help recognize important persons and groups in your setting’s history, and much more. They give your game life where it otherwise feels flat, like there’s nothing going on in the world besides what the players are doing.

In the United States there are 10 major holidays and a near infinite number of lesser holidays. To break them down the major ones into more generic terms that are easier to use in your game, they are (in calendar year order):

  1. Start of the calendar year
  2. Recognizing the birth of a civil rights leader
  3. Celebrating nation’s leaders
  4. Remembering soldiers that fell on the battlefield
  5. Marking the birth of our nation
  6. Recognizing the common laborer
  7. Remembering someone that discovered this continent
  8. Remembering living soldiers
  9. Harvest
  10. Holiday for the nation’s largest religion

So how can you use these in your game? Some of these are quite obvious and able to be used without exactly as is: harvest, remembering living and fallen soldiers, start of the calendar year, etc.

How about celebrating a civil rights leader? Well considering that the most discriminated against races (uh, ancestries) of the game are half-orcs or tieflings, how about a day where their contributions to the nation’s society are recognized. Or turn it on its head. Make it human-rights day because the elven rulers are keeping the humans from having a voice in their government. Is the day marked with celebrations or protests? Are the town’s guards brought out to prevent pick pocketing or riots?

The way you name a holiday says quite a bit about the leaders. If you call Labor Day Peasants Day that shows the rulers as looking down upon their subjects. Peasants Day would have a much different feel than Labor Day.

If you want to make you location anything but generic, come up with some quirky holidays. Something like Groundhog’s Day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Teacher’s Day, or Secretary’s Day. Try using something like National Health Day, a day where everyone goes down to the river and washes all the filth and grime off their bodies, which is perfect after a long winter of being inside. Or how about Hug a Gnome Day, the one day a year where gnomes are willing to sell in human markets, and the mayor wants them to come back more often so they are trying to spread good feelings among he gnomes. For the brutish types, how about Woodcutter’s Day. This day before the start of winter, all manner of trees that are unfit for being made into buildings or furniture are cut into firewood and sold to the people to help them last the winter. Naturally there would be lots of beer and other pleasures sold at such events, which can be a good cause for the reasons for the players to come together in the first place.

An important thing to remember is that while we all take the weekend (or some regular set of days off, no matter where in the week it resides) for granted today, the Five-Day Work week did not begin as a concept in the US until 1908. Europe was no better. For proof, Dame Maggie Smith in her role as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey once asked “What is a week end?” Before that, the only days off for the average person were on holidays. This is why the holidays we now consider minor were not so minor a hundred to a thousand years ago. Not overworking your people is important so holidays were frequent.

With Halloween coming soon, why not download the Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider adventure for Fifth Edition at the JBE Shop. You can also find it for Pathfinder right here.

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Happy Hogswatch (Or Whatever You Celebrate)

From now through Festivus and all the way through January 31, 2018, you can download anything JonBrazer.com and get 30% off your entire order with the “holiday2017” coupon code. May your Yule be bright, your Saturnalia be joyous, your St Lucia Day be merry, your Kwanzaa be celebrated with family, your Hanukkah be will lit, and have a Merry Christmas. 

From all of us at Jon Brazer Enterprises, have a safe and happy holiday.

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What Are We Up To?

We love to hear what our favorite game companies are working on as much as everyone else. Typically we do not announce very far in advance, but frankly, there is no reason not to share with you what we are working on. So here we go:

Coming in September is the previously announced Book of Magic: Dragon Spells and Archetypes. This book helps you to theme your character like someone that admires dragons, draws their power from a draconic ancestory or wants to hunt down dragons. With archetypes and class options like the draconic implement for the occultist or the wizard discoveries, there are quite a few ways you can create the character you want. Even more, there are spells in here ideal for those taking on a dragon, those that want to associate with dragons, or for dragons themselves. These spells enhance the natural abilities of dragons, making these creatures even deadlier, or penetrate straight them, turning them into useless wyrms. Look for this next month.

October sees the release of the Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin adventure for both Fifth Edition as well as the Swords and Wizardry. Whether you prefer your games with modern rules or an excellent revisit of the classic game, this is an adventure your players will not soon forget. A black dragon attacks a town and the players track it back to its lair and encounter more than a few surprises along the way. Prepare for more than you expected in this adventure. We are hoping to bring you both version of this adventure at the same time, but one may be delayed (hopefully not too long).

This is where our schedule starts to get a little uncertain. We are working on the equivalent of the d66 Compendium for Starfinder (currently unnamed). I am just not certain it will be ready for its target launch in November. This book will be a handy toolkit for gamemasters of science fantasy names. It contains names of aliens, planets, moons, robots, guns, and a whole lot more. No Starfinder gamemaster will want to be without this book.

Coming in December is the Pathfinder adventure Deadly Delves: Nine Lives for Petane by Christen N. Sowards of Lost Spheres Publishing. They have a Kickstarter going on now; check it out. In Nine Lives the players need to resurrect someone from a crypt, but which corpse is the right one? To make matters worse, an evil cult has been using the crypt as their own private playground. Even worse, monsters keep appearing out of no where. Good luck solving the mystery when your GM decides to run this 13th level adventure.

That is all we have for you right now. We are working on so much more than that, but I cannot pin down a date when any of it will come out at this point in time. We hope you are as excited about it as I am.

Be sure to use Coupon Code OpenStore25 when you download our PDFs from the JBE Shop. Downloading direct from us helps us produce more of the games you love. As always you can find all of our PDFs at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, the OpenGamingStore. and Paizo.

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Starfinder: Unleash Star Battles for Epic Space Encounters

Beyond the Basic Star Map
Never play on an ordinary star map! Star Battles: Hex Space Maps 1 and Star Battles: Hex Space Maps 2 takes your Starfinder game beyond the basics, bringing exciting visuals to your table. Have your ships skim planets, buzz space stations and rocky rings, whirl through nebulae, and fight in dawn’s glorious light. These maps sport 1-inch hexes, ideal for an epic showdown between all of your starship miniatures!
Star Battles: Hex Space Maps 1 & 2 each feature:

  • 6 maps, each measuring 12″ x 18″
  • Those same maps reformatted for printing on 8-1/2″ x 11″
  • Easily copied images, ideal for use on a VTT.

Enjoy epic space battles in your Starfinder game today!

Download Star Battles: Hex Space Maps 1 & 2 at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the OpenGamingStore.

Pre-Printed Cards
Order the pre-printed cards and get all 6 maps in this set on 12” x 18″ pages, folded in half and delivered right to your door! Order your copies today exclusively at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow

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Starfinder: Even More Star Battle Previews

You may have noticed yesterday that that cover of the upcoming Star Battle: Hex Space Maps has a “1” next to it. That’s because we have the second already to go and launching tomorrow. The first focuses on more ring worlds and sunrises. The second focuses on nebulae, solar flares, rock worlds and we’ve even got a space station in there as well. Each set has 6 maps pre-printed with 1″ hexes perfect for your minis. These maps are a serious upgrade over the basic map and and a great enhancement to your game. These can be incorporated into your game right away and will make for a more memorable experience.

Click on the maps below to see a larger preview.


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Starfinder: Star Battles Preview

In two days, the Starfinder Roleplaying Game launches and we at Jon Brazer Enterprises could not be more excited. While we are working on new alien races and class options and places to go, we decided that that is not where we are going to put our energy right away. Instead, we are going to help you play the basic game straight out of the core book. Unlike the launch of Pathfinder back in 2009, there isn’t 30+ years of history with the core game nor is there 9 years of history that the base engine of Pathfinder was built upon. This game is brand new and science fantasy as a genre is not nearly nearly as developed as a more mundane science fiction genre.

So how are we helping? Well the game includes rules for ship combat and Paizo sells a Basic Starfield Map Pack for your space battles. While it is necessary to get the basic map out there, we are Jon Brazer Enterprises. We enhance your world and your game; we go beyond the basic. We have a map pack that you can order Thursday for your game from DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. If you are the kind of person that would rather have the PDF and print your own, you can download the PDF from all our regular retailer locations and it comes pre-sized for you in 12″ x 18″ as well as 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper. Additionally, we are working on having it available for those that play Fantasy Grounds, but that will not be available right away.

Check back on JonBrazer.com on Thursday for links to where you can order and download your copies.

Click on the images below to see a larger preview, and happy gaming.

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Starfinder: Awesome Space Battle Maps

It is only 10 days until we Starfinder Compatible Publishers can release our products, and it is well past time I start sharing with you what you will be seeing from us right out of the gate. The first thing that every GM needs is an awesome grid to have space battles. I mean, what is a science fiction game without space battles and if you can’t do so on an awesome map, it just isn’t going to look nearly as good. So JBE is here to give you pre-printed terrain for your games to look amazing. Click on the images to see higher resolution of these awesome maps that will be available on day one.

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We’re On YouTube

I created a YouTube Channel about 2 years ago, but I have not really done anything with it until lately. Earlier this month, however, I decided to give regular vidcasting a try, and I have to admit that it is fun. If you ever wanted to find out more about what is going on in my head when I write something, or have the curtain pulled back on the process, or if you just really like what we create and want to hear more about it, this channel is great for that.

I will admit there is a second motive for me to do this: I need exercise and this keeps me honest. I am far from a slim person, and it is all too easy for me to skip my walk to do more at the day job. That needs to change. By recording myself on my walk, I have proof that I actually walked, and by sharing my thoughts on my company or what I am working on right now provides me with that necessary bit of motivation I need to get me out the door when I otherwise would stay at the desk. I encourage you to go for a walk as well. If recording yourself and sharing it on YouTube helps you, then I encourage you to do the same.

Watch our channel to hear more about us and what we are working on and subscribe today.

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2016 in Review

With little over a week left in the year, I thought I would do some analysis on the company. How’d we do? Well, we released a total of 11 new products this year (plus 4 d66 lists, but we’ll talk about that later). In previous years, we tried to release one product every two weeks but sometime during the year that changed to one per month. We feel that that is a more sustainable release rate for us, especially considering we are trying to release larger products.

So what did we produce? What I could consider to be JBE’s key releases for the have been finishing up the the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Series and the Book of Magic: Patron Hexes for Pathfinder and the start of the Prelude to War Adventure Path and the D66 Compendium 2 for Traveller. Why were these so key? Because fans like you requested them. I’ve been hearing requests for the D66 Compendium 2 since the release of its predecessor. Patron Hexes started off as a forum thread where fans of the Pathfinder witch requested more hexes. And the Prelude to War Adventure Path and Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Series is the request of me just posting a thread asking people what they wanted. So if there is something you want us to tackle, please ask. We listen.

systemWhat was the result (click on the pie charts for larger images)? Well, as you can see from the graph, Pathfinder represented 55% of the company while Traveller made up about 30%. Oddly enough, our single best seller was Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 for D&D 5e. That’s right, that red area is almost entirely one book, and that was released last year. I hate to admit it but we did not do nearly enough with 5e this past year. We will be doing much more for D&D next year.

Traveller was a major comeback this year. Aside from d66 lists we released 1 (yes, one) product for it last year. This year, this year it was 4 and even then, we didn’t finish up a 5th by the end of the year or there would have been one more. We have two more adventures in the Prelude to War Adventure Path we are finishing up. Then we will probably do a few stand alone adventures for those that like to make their own campaigns. We’re also working on ships, space stations, and some more locations. Oh and we still have a sector to finish detailing. Look for these in the coming year. 2017 is going to a massive year for Traveller from us. Strap in!

pathfinder-locationIt is kind of hard for Pathfinder to not dominate our sales considering how many books we have written for it in the past. Unfortunately, our individual Pathfinder releases have slowed to where few products actually make back their cost to produce them. Having said that, we are still creating Pathfinder material because some of our ideas are just too damn cool not to do!!! Like one Deadly Delve adventure we have coming up next year has the players into the heart of a volcano. The best part is that 5e and 13th Age fans can look forward to seeing this converted to their game systems at some point as well. And that is how we are targeting Pathfinder products these days when you don’t ask explicitly ask for them: what can we convert over to another system. Because if we just want to do it bad enough, we’ll find a way to make it work.

As you can see from the chart, Pathfinder is pretty evenly split between Paizo and the OpenGamingStore for the whole year. However, this is far from representative for the year. Throughout the year, OGS has gained ground on Paizo and has overtaken Paizo in recent months as our #1 Pathfinder retailer. DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, on the other hand, has stayed a constant #3 and has never been a great retailer for Pathfinder for us. Will OGS continue to increase over Paizo in terms of Pathfinder sales? We shall see.

locationThat last chart is only for Pathfinder. For all of our sales, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow dominates but that is mostly because our D&D 5e and 13th Age sales do not sell nearly as much as outside of DriveThruRPG, and Second Edition of Mongoose Traveller is exclusive to that same site.

All of these leaves a number of questions for us. Chief among them is: how is Starfinder going to shake this up? What kind of releases do we have in mind for Starfinder? Well for the time being, here is everything I can say about Starfinder: I am under a Non-Disclosure Agreement concerning Starfinder as part of the closed Playtest. Any more than that and one of the Paizo team will have me summoned to Seattle where lawyers will … lets just say … do this to me. Expect me to talk more when I am allowed to talk more, not before.

So aside from that, what can you expect to see us do in 2017? Well I mentioned the volcano adventure. It is written by Joel Flank. He turned it in a month ago. I am still reading it over and damn does it look fun. I can’t wait to hand it off to the editors and start working on the 5e conversion. The Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium will be out early next year and you can expect to see more races from that in 5e soon after hopefully in 13th Age not long after that. We have a product that has been top secret for over a year at this point and we hope to have ready next year.

All in all JBE is doing great. We have had a great year and we expect 2017 to be even better.

EDIT: On Dec 27, I updated the graphs and some of the text after discovering an error in my spreadsheet.

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Starfinder: Aliens In Spaaaaaaace

About 2 years ago, I walked out of Guardians of the Galaxy and said, “I want a raccoon race in my sci-fi games.” I liked Rocket, but I would rather him be a race rather than a one of a kind creature. So I asked my favorite artist to do a few drawings, and that is where this image came from. Man, do I love it!

Aliens are going to be a cornerstone to any Starfinder game in the way that fantasy races are to Pathfinder. So for the next installment in my ongoing series about what kind of Starfinder setting would I make, I would like to talk about some of the alien races in it. Of course there will be humans, androids, lashunta, and ratfolk in there, as well as any other race in the core rulebook, but I just have to add my own (if it is not already in there). First one will be a raccoon race. A nice scrappy race that is all about nocturnal life. That’s them. So they should be a crazy, go in guns blazing little guys. I also need to add seedlings in there. You know where I am going with this so I am just going to stop here.

But what else should I do with races: change the flavor of the core races. As I have said many, many places, I always prefer Dark Sun to the Forgotten Realms. Give me a cannibal halfling any day. So how would I change the core races: during the great war that plunged the once great StarRealm into darkness and ruin, the lashunta saw their world bombarded by asteroids by the Cycrom Collective (the cybernetic undead). The lashunta, as a result are scarce in numbers and many of the older generation have gone insane with grief. The younger generation tend to be either exceptionally practical, having grown up taking care of their parents all throughout their childhood, or are angry extremists, wanting revenge on Cycroms for robbing them of a life they can only dream of now.

That is as far as I have created at the moment. If you enjoy this series, please let us know, tell a friend, and sign up for our Starfinder newsletter to stay up on all our latest articles.