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Dungeon World: Horde of Kobolds

kobold_leader__bruno_balixaNot long ago I was at a convention and several games caught my attention. One of those games was Dungeon World. We at JBE are known for our monsters so I thought making a few monsters. Please let us know if you enjoy these and would like to see us develop more Dungeon World monsters or other products to help you Enhance Your World and Your Game.

Disclaimer: I just created these on a whim (except for the basic kobold which is straight out of the Dungeon World book). They have not been edited. Hell, these probably have enough grammatical errors in them to make my editors cry. But I wanted to know if anyone was interested in more of these sooner rather than later. If there is more interest, I’ll have my editors take their red pens to these and many, many others I’ll write in the future.

Horde, Small, Stealthy, Intelligent, Organized
Spear (d6 damage)        3 HP     1 Armor
Close, Reach
Special Qualities: Dragon connection

Some are wont to lump these little, rat-like dragon-men in with goblins and orcs, bugbears and hobgoblins. They are smarter and wiser than their kin, however. The kobolds are beholden slaves to dragons and were, in ancient times, their lorekeepers and sorcerer-servants. Their clans, with names like Ironscale and Whitewing, form around a dragon master and live to serve and do its bidding. Spotting a kobold means more are near—and if more are near then a mighty dragon cannot be far, either. Instinct: To serve dragons

  • Lay a trap
  • Call on dragons or draconic allies
  • Retreat and regroup


Kobold Firecaster
Solitary, Small, Stealthy, Magical, Intelligent, Organized, Hoarder
Fire orb (d10 damage ignores armor)      10 HP   0 Armor
Near, Far
Special Qualities: Dragon connection

Born with a spark of magic, these mayhem-makers catch adventurers off guard. Instinct: To burn their enemies while making themselves look important

  • Throw fire from behind trees or walls
  • Let other kobolds get between him and enemies
  • Retreat if ever attacked


Kobold King
Solitary, Stealthy, Intelligent, Organized, Hoarder
Long Sword (d6+1 damage)       9 HP     2 Armor
Special Qualities: Dragon connection

When the dragon is away, the kobold king will play the dragon. When the dragon is around, the kobold king is typically in charge of some important task, for a kobold (such as shoveling dragon poop). He typically has some kind of better armor than the rest of the kobolds. Instinct: To one day be a dragon and act like it in the meantime

  • Organizes ambushes
  • Braver than he should be
  • Orders other kobolds to keep fighting


Kobold Slaves
Horde, Small, Stealthy, Intelligent
Spear (d4 damage)        1 HP     0 Armor
Close, Reach
Special Qualities: Dragon connection

Whether the remnants of a captured clan or the children of a king that is no longer alive, kobolds treat their slaves poorly. These poorly fed captives are always the first sent out to die when humans or other big races enter their domain. The slaves know that if they return to the clan without killing a human, they will be fed to the dragon. Instinct: Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me.

  • Bait of a trap
  • Call on dragons or draconic allies
  • No retreat, even when to scared to act.


Kobold Sharpshooters
Horde, Small, Stealthy, Intelligent, Organized
Ragged Bow (d4 damage)         3 HP     1 Armor
Special Qualities: Dragon connection

While considered sharpshooters by kobold standards, these are merely the kobolds that picked up a bow and did not kill themselves with it on their first use. Kobold sharpshooters are the most cowardly of their kin, since they are never in the front and attack from a well hidden position, when they are brave enough to attack in the first place. They  Instinct: To live another day

  • Dangerous in a coordinated ambush
  • Serve as backup to the main kobold horde
  • Retreat and retreat some more
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Attitudes That Do Not Help

As a publisher that tries to make my books as attractive to game stores as possible I do quite a few things to help them out. Most notably, I have a PDF guarantee where a customer can get the PDF for free no matter where they pick up a print book. And game stores can give out the PDF via Bits and Mortar. However, I only know of a few game stores that really tout this kind publisher/game store cooperation. The general attitude I have encountered from game stores is that they find it annoying that they have to do additional work keeping track of a PDF for a book that doesn’t sell all that many copies. Sure they are glad to handle it for big selling game companies, but for game books that may only sell 2-4 copies ever in their store, they do not want the additional work. And on more than a few ocassions I’ve heard game stores just ignore it and tell their customers to contact me personally, which I am happy to do. While this is not exactly helpful, I do understand the position. We are all busy and extra work is not always welcome.

However, this position blindsided me. The author of the post and owner of the blog is Gary Ray of Black Diamond Games. He’s a good guy whom I value his insights into the retail side of the industry considerably. The short version of his blog post is that he will no longer be carrying books that are funded via Kickstarter anymore from small and medium publishers. “So my answer is always going to be ‘no’ now, I do not want that product, and thank you for sharing your efforts to bypass traditional mediums that I happen to use to feed my family.” While I do understand (and agree) that business is business and if he can’t sell a product (regardless of how it was funded) he shouldn’t carry it, a blanket attitude like this does not help me at all. As one of these publishers that had a Free RPG Day book funded via Kickstarter, I produced a book that would otherwise be impossible for me to do so without Kickstarter funding. The minimum print run to participate in Free RPG Day is larger than any other print run I do on a for profit book. I cannot do that on a book that is nothing but a total loss. It is just not possible.

But factor this in for a moment: Kickstarter is used by a number of small and medium game publishers for games that they themselves are not sure if there is a market for it. So the game publisher is not sure if they should 1) make the game at all, 2) how large the initial print run should be, or 3) plan to make expansions. Kickstarter can give you definitive answers to some and points to others. It can clearly say if there is enough interest out there to actually make it. A funded Kickstarter project means you should produce the book. While it won’t say exactly how many to produce, you know you have to produce copies for those that bought the game early and you have additional money to make more. Just don’t spend more than you brought in and you’re good. And if you did goals beyond the minimum, you may have funding for expansions as well. On top of all that certainty in the very uncertain market that game publishing is, it generates excitement among those that will become the alphas of the game.

Compare that with traditional distribution. You do not know how many to produce if there is a market out there at all. You are relying on game stores and distributors that are so flooded with other games and books that unless your name is Paizo, Fantasy Flight, Game’s Workshop or Wizards of the Coast, there is no guarantee a single store in the world will hear of you and (even if they do) order a single copy, let alone more than one. You also don’t have any indication if there is reason for you to work on expansions for the game or how well they will sell either. Oh and you are using all your own money to design, playtest, and produce this game.

Comparing the two, Kickstarter has a considerably amount of certainty while traditional distribution has almost none. So an attitude like the one in the blog ties an arm behind my back. I can say with certainty that because of attitudes like the one expressed above I will not be participating in 2013’s Free RPG Day. If my books are going to be banned from their store because it was funded with Kickstarter, then I do not have the funds to create such a book. Its that simple. I can’t do it. If the attitude expressed was, “I have to use more discretion when ordering books that were funded with Kickstarter,” is completely understandable and good business.

Consider the future for a moment. If a game company sells through direct marketing, print on demand, Kickstarter and other non-traditional methods, having never touched the traditional distribution system and makes it big (a distinct possibility in the 5-10 year time frame), what incentive do they have to ever sell through game stores. Lower profit margins, no direct access to their customer base, no direct feedback from customers, no certainty that the game store will pick up the game “because they didn’t sell through us game stores before, why should I sell their products now,” (yes I got that attitude when I went from PDF to print publishing), and many more reason against selling through traditional distribution. However, if game stores are (at minimum) not against selling a game that was funded or produced through non-traditional means, they can be part of the game company’s strategy to reach customers and seen as indispensable. Attitudes like the one above do not help.

For the time being, I can say that I am not going to be making changes. However, I am getting that much closer to reconsidering my distribution strategy. I am content the way it is. However, the more push back I get from any one distribution channel, the more I want to look for alternatives.

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Show a Podcaster Some Love Day

I heard through the grapevine that today is Show a Podcaster Some Love Day. Myself, I am an avid lover of podcasts. My eye time is pretty taken up at work, but my ear time is quite free. I listen to podcasts while I am at work (day job) and while I am writing gaming material. So allow me to share with you some of my favorite podcasts.

  • EscapePod, PseudoPod, and PodCastle, the very best in short sci-fi, horror and fantasy fiction, respectively.
  • I Should Be Writing, an excellent podcast for new authors to help them with the writing craft.
  • TrapCast, a funny gaming podcast that is not for sensative or young ears (pushes the limits of SFW). Disclaimer I was a guest on the TrapCast once.
  • Fear The Boot, a quality gaming podcast covering a wide range of topics.
  • GenCon Seminars. There’s no way you can attend every single seminar at the great con. If you missed the con or simply missed these shows, find out what happened.
  • 3.5 Private Sanctuary/Know Direction, the premiere 3.5 loyalist podcast and Pathfinder RPG content in the podcastosphere.
  • This Week in Tech/Google/… a series of podcasts by Leo LaPort from the old TechTV channel. Find out what is happening in computing this past week with these many podcasts.
  • Last and definitely NOT least,
    Scott Sigler, aka the Future Dark Overlord (or FDO for short), horror author writes some wicked cool stories and shares them for free via podcast.

Have a good listen. Enjoy world.

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Off Line for a Bit

I just wanted to say that I expect to be sporadic with my online time for the next week. I just got word this morning that my grandfather died last night. This might delay products for a week or two, but only that. The next Creatures will be on time since it is already completed and on the website. The next Mech Tech n Bot might end up being released in early September, but you get the idea.

Anyways, be good all while I am away.

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JBE is Getting Bombed that is. Wednesday September 9th 9pm EST (yes, that will be 9/9/09 @ 9pm), Dale McCoy of Jon Brazer Enterprises is going to on their flashchat discussing several upcoming products including Creatures of Distant Worlds and Foreven. Also, we at JBE would like to ask you your opinion on several projects we are considering.

Can’t wait to see you there.

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Christianity and Role Playing Games

Before I begin, allow me to state that I am a Born Again Christian. Raised in the Church, accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior on Thursday July 7, 1994 at 11:37pm in Greenboro, SC. Since that day I studied the Bible extensively. I didn’t just read Genesis and flip over to the New Testiment like so many. No, my favorite Bible Character is Elisha, disciple of the prophet Elijiah. (First appeared in the end of 1st Kings but had most of his life detailed in 2nd Kings.) I was at a Rich Mullins concert less than 1 year before he died. I’ve been to Promise Keepers, Billy Graham (in the chorus) and John Guest gatherings. I reignited my faith at Jouney #1 (Wyoming Confrence) in 1999. I’ve been on mission trips and participated in IVCF at a very secular college and served as a living witness to many non-believers there. Now I raise my daughter to love and fear God. I believe in Creation (not that Intelligent Design crap) where the earth was created in 7 (24 hour) days and that Adam and Eve were the first 2 people on earth. I am what many considered to be a Christian’s Christian.

I am also a Gamer. Infact, I enjoy role playing games so much, I started my own Role Playing company.

So when I see a fellow Christian posting non-sense like this, it bothers me. At college I was surrounded by many different view points and I searched the Bible for a way to reach them. It was the example laid out by Paul that helped me figure out what best to do. In the book of Acts, Paul presented Jesus through their religion. When talking with the slaves of Rome, he presented them with the promise of being God’s freemen. When talking with Jews he used the law. No matter where he went, he lived with them, got to know what they valued and presented Christ through those values and desires. That was the model I lived by.

Unfortunately, the author of the article does not share the same belief (or at least does not practice such a method in the referenced article). For example, the author stated:

In fact, when game defenders claim that the occult and violence oriented games do not include actual incantations, spells, etc., it is just not true. A trip to the local game store will reveal examples like four volumes of specific Wizards Spells and three volumes of Encyclopedia of Magica.

I ask you: Did you look in the books or did you simply judge the books by their covers? The titles and cover art are simply chosen to convey a theme. This is otherwise called “Marketting,” (a non-Satanic practice by which companies make money to stay in business). Had you opened those books, you would have found “spells,” but these spells are as akin to actual magic as a picture of food is to actual food. Eating a picture of food provides no nutritional value and would be harmful to your body’s digestive system (I do not recommend trying that). In the same way, “spells” in role playing games produce no actual magic (if such even exists). Allow me to demonstrate how a typical spell in Dungeons and Dragons works:

Player: I cast Magic Missile at the grimlin.
Game Master: Ok. Role your dice.
Player: *rolls a plastic die that has 4 sides* I got a 2.
Game Master: Ok. You did 2 points of damage.

That’s it. No incantation. No blood sacrifice. No calling upon some dark lord’s name and swearing to serve him for all eternity if he helps the Player to defeat the grimlin. Just a couple of geeks sitting around a table and doing the geek equivilent of poker night.

The author cited examples of people committing murder and or suicide because of role playing games. I find that rather odd considering that when you play a role playing game, you tend to play with the same group of people for prolonged periods of time. Over that time you make friends, build bonds, and care for those at your table. And if someone starts acting weird or on edge or similar, they are there to intervene and help them through whatever is going on.

Additionally, something frequently cited by BADD (Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons, and organization referenced in the article) why role playing games are so bad is because a person gets attached to their character and may kill themself should something bad happen to their character. I’ll ignore the inability to tell fiction from reality argument and move onto anothe argument that is not as frequently covered. The attachment a person feels for their character is similar to the attachment a person could have for a fictional character on TV. Myself, I loved the character Kutner on the popular TV show House. He killed himself recently. Shot himself in the head. Did I do the same? No. I have not heard about a rash of self-inflicted gun shot wounds to head on national media so I appear to not be the only one. Same is true with one of my characters. Over the years, I have had many, many characters die. None caused me to harm myself or others.

In 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter lays out the path to spiritial growth. In Verse 5 (NIV), He says:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;

He continues on from there, but he hit the part that is relivent here. Knowledge. In the greek, it is a kind of knowledge gained through experience. I urge you, therefore, brother to add to your faith and your goodness by gaining knowledge. I do not simply mean to go on the internet and find information that validates the ideas you already possess. No. Instead I urge you to go to your forementioned game store and ask the person working behind the counter if there is a role playing game that meets at the store itself. Odds are, there is. Ask when it is, letting the person know that you’ve never seen a role playing game actually being played before and would like to watch it. I recommend not going into some tyraid about how they’re Satanic and responsible for a myriad of social problems. Simply watch with an open mind. You do not have to participate, you can simply sit back and watch.

But most importantly, remember these are souls just like you. And God loves them, just like you.