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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Matthew Goodman's LiveJournal:

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Monday, January 30th, 2012
12:18 am
Zeppelin Age Events In February
We'll be running Zeppelins Over Hollywoodland: A Zeppelin Age Adventure at three conventions in February. The event is open to all, no experience necessary, all materials provided, and will run in a four hour slot. Players will get to enjoy the DECO System 2nd Edition, which encourages Streamlined Fun.
Details!Collapse )
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
9:01 am
No more LJ comments from me!
While I was replying to someone's post in their LJ, LJ popped up an ad. With audio. Really loud audio.

That wraps it up for me commenting on LJ. I'll continue to post release & convention info here, but that'll be it. I'm not ignoring you, posters: I just don't want to deal with ear shattering LJ ads.

Come! Join all the nerds on Google+! Sure, you can't have a nym, but at least there aren't pop-up ads.
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
10:26 am
Heliograph Gen Con 2011 Report
Before heading out the Gen Con this year, I was planning on skipping Gen Con in 2012. I had such a great time, though, that I decided I would definitely be back to run events next year. That’s right, event participants: if you’re reading this, I’m coming back to Gen Con next year because of you guys.

I’m not good at making retail sales, and while I think I’ve developed a good booth display, all the hassles associated with booth setup, staffing, and teardown had really sucked the fun out of Gen Con for me. This was the first year in the 21st century where I just showed up to run events, and it was (naturally) a much more positive experience. The GPA sold our books out of their Showcase, and barring personnel changes with that program, we’ll use it again next year.

*BEST HELIOGRAPH EXPERIENCES*
--The adorable 10-year old girl (dressed like Link from Zelda) who played in her first RPG session with us. Her dad had contacted me ahead of time to make sure it was OK (he was there too), and I had planned on toning down some of the violence for her (PG-13 to PG). That turned out to be unnecessary. In addition to practically leading the party, she had a number of great ideas and seemed to get the scenario in a way other players have not. She seemed to have a good grasp of the rules, too, and was one of only two players all weekend to add dice to her character (though, in fairness, she had a ton of well-deserved Pavlov Points). But the real shocker was how casually, cheerfully bloodthirsty she was. At one point she politely requested (with a charming smile) that the party stop killing all the bad guys and save her two or three for questioning (which they did). Why did she want more than one? Because she said the party should kill one of the pirates in front of the other two to show them we were serious. In fairness, later she wanted to let them go if they promised to not follow the boss bad guy and live good lives. In the “I wasn’t expecting that” category, she now trumps the (similarly harmless looking) teenage girl from a few years ago at Gen Con who kept having her character pistol whip another PC who was annoying her.

--At every session, new-to-Zeppelin-Age players would read the cast list and ask “We can really play the dog and monkey?” Strangely(?), the presence of the monkey seemed crucial to party success. For example, one monkey-less party ended with a John Woo-esque standoff in the Zeppelin gondola between two factions of party members.

--Some great canine roleplaying from the woman who played “Blitzy” (the dog’s name was Blitz, but in this run that’s what the players called ze dog), leading to her companion to re-assert she couldn’t have a dog. While she really brought Blitzy to life, (and at one point covered her mouth with both hands as she had made a horrible mistake after she spoke in English instead of acting out Blitzy’s behavior), another player demonstrated a keen insight into the canine mind by stoutly guarding the Zeppelin and basing his action on how Blitz would interpret the other players' actions. _Note to self:_ be sure to let players with non-human characters know they can talk to other players.

--Most players reacted to the appearance of danger by opening fire on it. However, two more veteran gamers had their characters promptly run away when faced with a tentacled horror. I assumed they were veteran Call of Cthulhu players.

--Great advice from players on the scenarios, as well as some good advice on spreading the word about Zeppelin Age. More on that at a later date.

--Approaches to both scenarios were different every time, and that was unique in my convention experience. Some of the potential solutions were very appalling (and very 1930s). But a standout player in one event (the best player not ten years old or running an animal) went from a policy of ruthless extermination to reconciliation over the course of a two hour event.

--The overall quality of roleplaying was very, very high.

*BEST IN SHOW*
The best new thing I saw at the show was a pulp cliffhanger adventure boardgame, _FORTUNE AND GLORY_. It looks like a fun recreation of pulp serials and fiction, very much in the Indiana Jones world-hopping-and-artifact-collecting vein, though you can play a variety of other types of characters. It seems like a boardgame recreation of a roleplaying experience (like Fantasy Flight’s ARKHAM HORROR), and in the good old days I would have snatched it right up. I’ve still got a little regret there, because I do think it was worth $100, but it would have been irresponsible of me because of my current financial situation and lack of immediate prospects for playing it. It should be in distribution soon, and I think they’ve got a winner. If you’re a pulp fan (and have local game playing friends) you should definitely check it out. It allow for up to some crazy number of players (8?). It includes a Zeppelin as one of the playing pieces (though its function seems to be dropping Nazis around the world).

*THE OVERALL CON EXPERIENCE*
As I turn the corner into cranky-old-manhood, I must complain about something! I didn’t care for the exhibit hall layout: I thought putting the artists in the middle of the hall broke up the flow, but there seemed like there were plenty of people everywhere. Just walking the hall, and then making sure you’d walked the hall, was much harder than usual (for me, anyway, though my sense of direction is terrible). If I saw the WotC booth, I didn’t recognize it as such. The exhibit hall food was terrible even for exhibit hall food. If I could fix one thing, it would be that I would put more trash cans EVERYWHERE. The Disney rule (waste disposal every 30 feet, or something like that) would be great, but even having a waste basket in the event rooms would be a great leap forward.

The new Marriott complex was nice, and you could walk from one end of the event space to the other without ever going outside. I think our hotel room (in the new Marriott block) was as far away from where I ran games as you could be and still be connected to the convention center (it was a little over a mile), but the only times I went outside was when we went out to eat. Running events in the Crown -Royal- Plaza was very nice: the little bar/restaurant was tasy and quick, they had roving carts to feed people, and there was only a little confusion over tables. It was occasionally very loud (with seven tables in one room), but I used my pith helmet as an ear horn and that usually worked out, though I was worried I was going to lose my voice.

*FINAL OBSERVATIONS*
They’ve finally completed all the construction on the convention space, and there’s a lot of it, with plenty of room for expansion. I could be wrong, but it seemed like there were entire halls they didn’t use this year, and the open gaming space was an entire hall. While the will-call lines were crazy on Thursday (I thought they were lining up for entry into the Exhibit Hall), I didn’t hear anyone complaining about event problems (other than that). Everything seemed to go very smoothly from my POV, and I look forward to next year!
Friday, July 8th, 2011
7:52 pm
Google+ Invite?


If you would like one, email me at mgood@heliograph.com.
Monday, March 7th, 2011
9:43 pm
Rango
I went into Rango pretty cold, and there's a point in the movie where I had to ask myself:

Great movie? Or greatest movie?Collapse )

I've read a few reviews that claim Rango isn't for kids, but there were plenty of kids at the showing I attended, and they had no trouble following the story (and explaining it to their parents) and weren't bored by it. The reviewers were probably just confused because there's plenty of material to amuse adults as well.

There's also nothing in there to horrify the under six set (unlike, say, Toy Story 3).

For the gamer crowd, it wouldn't take much work to convert this into a Zeppelin Age or Space 1889 adventure, so you can justify seeing it for that reason if no other.
Monday, February 28th, 2011
12:01 pm
(Zeppelin Age) Play Enjoyed By All!
I am not an easy man to work for. While directing "Hats off to Channukah'', I reduced more than one cast member to tears. Did I expect too much from fourth-graders? The review, "Play enjoyed by all,'' speaks for itself. -- Llewelyn Sinclair

I had a very good time at Total Confusion (http://www.totalcon.com/) running Zeppelin Age games. I got in three runs of the teaser version of Zeppelin Pirates Over Hollywoodland over the course of the show. Two went great, and one was kind of an amusing Zeppelin wreck. A very kind mention of one of the great ones (With pix! See? Zeppelin Age DOES exist!) is up at Ben Gerber's Troll In The Corner blog (http://trollitc.com/2011/02/total-confusion-xxv-a-wicked-awesome-convention/)

I received many positive comments on Zeppelin Age, and while I like to think I don't require external validation, I do have to admit it was pretty nice to get ;-)

I recommend this show pretty highly if you enjoy RPGs. There were plenty of events, the show ran smoothly, and the gamer attendees were very friendly and welcoming. The show had a very relaxed (dare I suggest it?) west coast vibe. It really reminded me of the great DunDraCons I attended around the turn of the century more than any other show I've attended since.

Asking the attendees about other good local cons confirmed for me that I'll be running events at OGC Con in Nashua (http://www.ogc-con.com/) and Carnage Con in Vermont (http://www.carnagecon.com/). Suggestions for other good RPG cons in driving distance are more than welcome!
Monday, February 21st, 2011
11:59 pm
Total Confusion Starts Thursday!
I'll be running a two-hour teaser for Zeppelin Pirates Over Hollywoodland at Total Confusion in Mansfield, MA. The show runs from this Thursday (February 24th) until Sunday (February 27th), and I'll be running this event repeatedly over the run of the show (check the event listings for details).
Sunday, January 23rd, 2011
6:21 pm
TempleCon!


I'll be doing Zeppelin Age demos and manning a dealer table at TempleCon in Warwick, RI, Feb. 4th to 6th, 2011. TempleCon's theme, retro-futurism, neatly fits our Space 1889 and Zeppelin Age lines, and the TempleCon organizers put on a very entertaining show!
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
10:00 pm
Sunday, October 10th, 2010
4:02 pm
Review With Land Octopi!
Lyle Zapato's detailed review of Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island Of Doom explains what the game is all about, perhaps even better than we have. So if you're still wondering, check it out!

If you're already familar with Airship Troopers, his review remains worth reading as he adds a pointer to a period pulp story (avaiable online) that fits the setting like and eight-fingered glove, and suggests an additional Uncommon Description.

The rest of Lyle's site, Zapato Productions intradimensional, should be experienced directly, and in detail. It is one of my favorites!
Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
11:35 am
Zeppelin Age! No, really!
Available now in PDF from Drive Thru RPG, and very shortly from e23.sjgames.com and paizo.com. The print version should be available at the end of October.

You can download a sampler, which contains all the rules.

Details and cover pic below the cut!Collapse )
Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
9:54 pm
Gen Con was good, but...
The organizers of Gen Con deserve big kudos for this year's show. I had zero organizational issues with the booth this year, part of which is certainly thanks to the GPA and Marcie Ganow who handling that bit for us this year. There were plenty of people roaming the aisles, many of whom proclaimed they were out of money and then proceeded to whip out their credit cards. Some customers seemed price sensitive, but on the whole it felt like people were spending more than last year.

I had some annoyances that had nothing to do with anybody else (my register had brain damage and was effectively a big, heavy calculator), but I actually had a good time at the show and played other people's games for the first time in years. Even with the best year (possibly ever) as far as the gross goes, we would have had to bump up our sales by another 50% to break even. Ladle on top of that the fact that the majority of our gross came from selling other people's stuff (pith helmets and HPLHS stuff), and I've got my doubts about whether we'll have a Gen Con booth next year. I will definitely attend the show and run events, but we'll probably let somebody else sell our stuff in the exhibit hall.

Who knows, though. That's what I thought last year, too, and I wound up getting a booth.

I asked booth visitors what the coolest thing at the show was, and the things I agreed with included:

The Savage Worlds Space 1889 book, Red Sands
I only got to glance through it (I didn't have time during exhibit hall hours to grab my copy, and by the time I was loose I heard it had sold out), but it certainly increased people's interests in the originals. Pinnacle very kindly allowed me to put an ad in the back for our reprints, folks definitely noticed the ad: more than one person mentioned it to me.

Arkham Horror Minis
Fantasy Flight Games had 48 nifty minis for the Arkham Horror board game, and sold out of swathes of them by Sunday. I bought the character from "Dead Man's Stomp," my favorite Call of Cthulhu adventure. They're unusual in that while they are 28mm minis, they're correctly proportioned and look just like the pix from the character artwork, so they don't have the odd proportions (ie giant heads, stocky limbs) that most minis seem to have.

Miniature Building Authority
Alas, they don't have plans to make more stuff for their pulp line right now, but their direct-only guard tower is super-nifty.

Sorcery & Super Science
Demented fun!

On a fanboy note, I saw Wil Wheaton in the exhibit hall and complimented him on his Wil Wheaton costume. He said he worked really hard on it. I have no doubt he gets that all the time, but I couldn't resist. The oddest thing was how short all the people from The Guild web show were. I was taller than all of them (including Wheaton) except Vork, and I'm not tall. The cliche is really true!

Finally, on the Zeppelin Age front, we released the "Oh The Humanity" version of Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island Of Doom at Gen Con, and I got encouraging feedback on it. I will make a post here next week for the official announcement. It is available on Drive Thru RPG now for early adopters and the folks that got the hard copy at the show, but I'll be adding some ready-to-print character sheets and challenge cards this weekend before I make a broader announcement on Monday. A game designer I admire described the rules as "Elegant" which pleased me to no end, and somebody had me sign their copy, which was the first time that's happened, ever, anywhere. As far as I can remember, anyway.
5:07 pm
No Canada for me, alas.
Unfortunately, I am OBE and will not be able to attend Fan Expo Canada as a guest this year. Sorry Canada! My apologies Toronto! My extra-special apologies to the show organizers, who have been very helpful and easy to work with. I really do feel bad about disrupting their schedule even in my minor way... I doubt many people were lining up to meet me ;-)
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
10:44 pm
Zeppelin Age sites or bookstores in Toronto?
At the end of August I'll be in Toronto for FanExpo. Aside from the convention, my only other firmish plan is to go a ballgame (the stadium is right next door). Any suggestions of points of interest? Tips for good used bookstores with 1900 to 1940 biographies and travelogs would be especially welcome, and I enjoy sites featuring pre-1940 aviation.
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
11:47 pm
Convention Info, New Free Stuff
August Convention Appearances
Heliograph will be at Gen Con in Indianapolis, Indiana from August 5th to 8th in booth 532 as part of the GPA block, and I'll be a gaming guest at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto, August 27th to 29th. I'm not 100% clear on how Fan Expo will work since I haven't been before, but apparently I'll have 4 linear feet of table space, and assuming I work out all the customs stuff I'll be selling books there.

"New" Free Stuff
Now available as a free PDF, the Introduction to Space: 1889 is a 16 page booklet originally found in the Sky Galleons of Mars boxed game. Download it from Drive Thru RPG or e23.

As a teaser for The Complete Canal Priests of Mars, we're making GDW's original version of Canal Priests of Mars free from Drive Thru RPG and e23! If you like it, please consider the Heliograph version, which restores a third of the original manuscript and contains all new art and graphics!
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
10:49 am
TRMGS PDFs now available
Early yesterday a fan wrote, asking if PDFs of Heliograph's editions of Transactions of the Royal Martian Geographical Society would ever be available. By the end of the day I'd cleared it with Mark Clark, setup the PDFs on Drive Thru RPG, and sent along the info to e23. So they're now available on DTR, and will be available on e23 soonish. I let the fan know, and he bought the PDFs before the day was over.

It is indeed a brave new world.

Links for all these are available the Heliograph homepage. If you're not familiar with TRMGS, there are many sample articles available on our site.

Also, if you were a contributor to TRMGS and would like copies of the PDFs, please contact me.
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
9:41 pm
Free Canal Priests, and other PDF price reductions
The PDF of the original GDW edition of Canal Priests of Mars is now available on Drive Thru RPG and e23 for free. I've also dropped the prices on all the GDW Space 1889 reprints and created bundles with significant additional discounts.

While I probably should have made the original Canal Priests free when I released the new edition, the other changes are all mildly experimental. If volume stays around where it has been for the last few months, I will probably dump the bundles and raise the prices back to where they were before, so if you've been dying to buy a Space 1889 PDF but thought they were too expensive, now is the time ;-)

The Complete Canal Priests of Mars PDF is still at the old price. Because of the way I structured royalties on that book, it is hard to lower the price much further.
Monday, February 8th, 2010
12:31 pm
Plugging Templecon, .45 Adventures Minis
I attended TempleCon for the first time this weekend, and it was a really great show. The show's theme is retro-futurism, which fits our products well, and it isn't too far away in Warwick, Rhode Island. The management is very vendor-friendly, they're trying new things to make gaming conventions more enjoyable, and in my opinion, succeeding. I don't know what the attendance was like, but there seemed to be plenty of people there having a good time, and the vendors I spoke with were all satisfied with sales. If they'll have us, we'll definitely have a table there next year and do Zeppelin Age demos. If you're in driving distance or enjoy the future that wasn't, you may should check it out.

One of those satisfied vendors was Rattrap Productions, the publishers of the .45 Adventure pulp miniatures narrative adventure game. Their games show a great feel for period flavor, and their minis are nifty (I couldn't resist buying a couple of packs).
Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
11:31 am
Gen Con 2009 Review
Logistically, it was the best show ever. Driving to Indy was painless, setup and tear down went as smoothly as you can expect, and the drive back was problem free. I do wish they'd turn on the A/C in the exhibit hall while we setup, but I understand why they don't. I think I'm going to bring a box fan next year. The Gen Con staff was great, resolving problems as quickly as they could. I'm blanking on his name, but the guy in charge of Exhibitor Check-In did an excellent job of remaining cheerful in a very trying situation.

From a marketing perspective, it was also a very good show. Many people demo'ed Airship Troopers and had a good time. My demo'ers (Marcus, age 10, Alex, age 13, and Stephen, age ??) all did excellent jobs. I also had folks who wanted to buy our games for resale, and it is always nice when they come to you looking to sell your product. The halls seemed packed (in a good way) most of the show, so the economy didn't seem to cut down on Gen Con attendance (unlike Origins, which apparently had a 17% dip in attendance this year). I haven't heard official numbers yet, but it seemed like there were more people there this year.

I also had several great conversations about game design and DECO in particular that were very helpful.

Financially, it was the worst Gen Con ever, going back to the first one we attended in 2000. The interest in Airship Troopers did suggest that if I actually had Zeppelin Age books (instead of just an ashcan) at the show I'd sell them, so I've got high hopes for next year. The third party stuff we carried ("Zulu" pith helmets and Dark Adventure Radio Theater CDs) both sold well, but the sales of the CDs were below last year's. I also discovered that the average gamer 1) loves pith helmets and 2) has an abnormally large head. I will adjust accordingly next year :-)

The best product at this year's Gen Con was produced by our booth neighbors, Gamers Rule. They have a product called "Dungeon Deck Quests" that allows you to generate a fantasy adventure in 30 sections. It isn't just a random dungeon generator: it actually does create a short, entertaining adventure using cards that would be compatible with any fantasy RPG. It would be perfect for a one-shot when you don't have anything prepared but would like to play.

Despite the poor sales (which should not reflect poorly on Gen Con in any way!) the show overall was very good, and we'll be back with a booth next year (and more new product).
Sunday, July 12th, 2009
6:47 pm
Now Available: The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars
For the 20th anniversary of Space 1889, we've published The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars, the uncut version of the adventure originally published by GDW in 1990. The new version restores the third of Marcus Rowland's manuscript cut to fit GDW's adventure format, and adds all new artwork by Paul Daly and many other handy extras. If you liked the original, the uncut version is even better, and if you haven't read the original, the Complete version provides a great introductory adventure for Space 1889.

The book is available now in PDF from Drive Thru RPG and e23, and in print format from Amazon.com. You can download a PDF preview, or browse the previews at DTR or e23.

We'll also have copies available at Gen Con Indy this year. We'll be in booth 1635!

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