Monday 18 August 2014

Deep Carbon Observatory Print Copy Available

So, my proof print copy of DCO just turned up and it looks ok so I will go and make it available online now. (The picture link on the right saying 'Deep' should take you there.) This is the first time I have ever had a copy of a book I made in my hands. It is a strange experience.

"Oh, who is this by?"


So I should say a few things about the things that have been said.


Probably the biggest issue people have had is with the maps, fairly enough in most cases. A big chunk of the module involves resource allocation and the measurement of time and distance. The module does not tell you how to do this and the maps don't help much with it. Which is slightly unfair. My reasoning for not telling people exactly how to count time and distance was partly because I know everyone would be playing with a slightly different ruleset, but also partly because I was getting tired and hacked off with it and wanted it out the door without inflating page count. But really the maps could be sharper, they could at least have a scale or something.

So it is a slightly dishonest module in that way.

The reasoning for the weird 'side-on' maps is because I knew we would be mainly working in a vertical direction and wanted it to be clear on one page. The logic of the interior spaces was created with that in mind. Gus has done 'proper' top down maps for the Observatory, I have linked to them on the page. I haven't made his maps into a free downloadable product on the same page because I felt weird ranking it along other stuff , the main way I have of turning something into a PDF is still OpenOffice and I can just link to his site so he can get hits for the work that he did.

If we do another one like this we will take better care with the maps.


The opening is a bit of a downer hey?

I almost never write with a clearly stated moral in mind. But you can look at what I made and see what kind of world it signifies. A big thing seems to be the necessity of making hard choices if you want the world to be anything other than it is. If you do nothing the world gets worse. If you try to save everyone in the town you will probably fail. If you focus and decide which problems you can fix and address them one after another, then you can save some  people. That is pretty shit in comparison to most D&D modules where you can generally save everyone. It’s a pretty fair look inside my head anyway. It isn't that you shouldn’t care, or that it’s pointless to care, you should both care and be ruthlessly focused on what you can achieve. Even then you can't save the world, you aren't god, just a person, but you can maybe save this small part of the world. (Of course in this module I am actually god.)

I remember reading about a US army guy who had done numerous disaster relief missions who said that the weak links on those missions were often his best people.  They were good, upstanding, heroic and self-motivated and in a disaster they tried to help everyone to the maximum extent. And this meant they dispersed their efforts and the big machine of the military that did most of the work became less efficient and their primary goal got harder, so less people got helped overall.

Kind of a different view to my last post.


Alex bore with me a lot while we were doing this, all of the flaws in layout should be laid at my door. I believe it is functional. None of the tables go over two pages. Some of the lists do. Nothing you are supposed to consult quickly in one go requires flipping between things. But it is not perfect. It's no Vornheim. I will have to learn Scribus for the next one and set the format first. If I do a second module (It might be 'A Fire Calling’) and if I get ok at design, I may go back and redo DCO. But it won't be for a while.


Is it worth ten dollars? Vornheim is better and costs less. But other things are certainly worse and cost more. I made the choice mainly so it was a round figure for Americans and so both I and Scrap could get a decent chunk out of each sale. We both get  $3.50 out of each sale, take of a bit for the cost of transfers and currency conversion, in human (British) terms this amounts to about £2.00 each time for me. It seems fair. I have set the margin for the printed copy at exactly the same as the virtual copy. So far as I am concerned you are paying for content not format. If it was a posh print copy with a lot of clever shit in it I would charge more, but it’s just Lightning Scource printing, which is just a blurring of software and hardcopy anyway. There is also no extra for buying both at once. I am very sorry for anyone who bought the PDF and now realises they could have waited and got print at the same time for not much more. It wasn't a marketing scheme, it was just me never having done this before and having trouble with the print process. Sorry.


It's interesting that my life has been defined by a great aloneness and that I am a big proponent of 'doing it for yourself'. I do believe that the only meaningful control you have over the world is your body and the area around it. And not much even then. But the things I have actually made tell a different story.

Everything I have ever completed that was any good has always involved another person. Even though I did a lot of the work myself (using those individual qualities I talked about above) the thing as a whole is not 'mine' and if I had been making it alone I probably wouldn't have finished it. In me both life and death are equally balanced and the result is not easy to predict. This makes for some interesting writing but it also means things I generate and pursue only on my own, with no-one else involved, tend not to get finished.

In this case respect should be showed to Zzarchov Kowalski, if he hadn’t got me and Scrap to do it, it wouldn’t exist. All he wanted was a freaky adventure to play in his NGR system and he didn't even get that really. He had to convert the whole thing himself.

And there is Scrap. I wrote the whole thing for, or at least 'towards' her. If she hadn't been there it still might not exist. If it did it would be in a very different form. (Less animals, no Crows, lots of other things.)

Scrap is essentially my Paul McCartney, she cares about actual living things and people, embodied living expressions of the world, I care about sadness and death.

If you think that’s an insult, go and read this.

“Lennon, perhaps because his music relied on a more typical blues structure, used more negative emotion in his lyrics and the data reveal that he was more focused on his own personal distress. Lennon songs are indicative of someone trying to reflect or understand his own negative experiences or situations


On the other hand, the data shows McCartney lyrics to be more intellectually and lyrically complex than Lennon’s. McCartney songs also cover a broader range of themes.

McCartney’s songs are more intellectually complex and cover a far wider range of perspectives
and themes. Lennon’s songs tend to more self-focused and higher in levels of negative emotion.”


Almost exactly 15 years ago I got a tattoo. People thought it turned out well. Everyone asked me if I would ever get another one. I would always say “If I ever get something published.”

Well, self-publishing isn’t real publishing, but its close enough and I didn’t know what to get for my birthday anyway. So if anyone has any ideas about what tattoo I should get you can let me know. Probably something Observatory-related, but you know, inverse.

Also, if anyone has any questions about DCO, feel free to ask.


  1. How similar/linked are DCO and Veins of the Earth? Really enjoyed DCO and the posts on Veins, can't wait for a hard copy.

    1. DCO could be used as an entry to the Underworld described in Veina. They share a lot of DNA but each has entirely original stuff in it so you certainly dont need one to use the other.

  2. Not to be too weird, but is there a hardcopy pricing option for people who may have already purchased the PDF? Great product, by the way.

    1. Okay. This is my later self (the one who actually read the full blog text above). Fair enough. Ignore earlier comment.

  3. This is a really nice post. I think it is worth more than ten dollars. Didn't I just pay $10 for the PDF which isn't made of real life. In Australia we pay too much for everything so paperback novels are often $30ish even if they are shit and this thing isn't so tis a meagre thing. I spend more on nuts every coupla days.

    1. Ooh exciting, I can pay $5.70 for shipping that arrives in 2-7 weeks or $28.52 for shipping that arrives in 1-5 weeks. The prospect of paying five times as much shipping for something that could arrive up to three weeks later is so tempting.

  4. You need a tattoo doodle, I'll work with you man.

    Nicely written post to address complaints (mostly whinging - my own included). I will say that map thing bugged me a bit, but mostly because I want convenience and ease of use in a paid product - in retrospect the observatory maps are fine - but better descriptions of spacing would really help as it was only with thinking and drawing the top down maps that I got a spatial sense of the place. Nevertheless - best thing I've read in forever for a game. Seriously though I've drawn out some tattoos before (my own and others - do ask if you'd like a sketch or two).

  5. Get a tattoo of John Lennon rolling a d20.

    I've ordered a copy. It looks like it will take about a century to arrive, but I'm looking forward to it.

  6. this is the most positive I will ever feel to being compared to Paul McCartney.

  7. You're getting a neck tattoo of Harley Quinn committing suicide in a bathtub.