News / The Janitor

How Many "Busy Week"s Do You Need In a Row Before Its Just The New Normal?

How Many "Busy Week"s Do You Need In a Row Before Its Just The New Normal?

Hello All,

I've started the last few weeks' worth of Thursday blogs with some form of "it's been a busy week" I feel, and its leading me to wonder "How many times till I just see THIS as my new normal workload?"

Anyways, every time its mentioned it's always meant to account for a shorter blog that day, as I impart some little tidbit and move on. Today's going to be roughly the same. As I announced last week, I'm trying to get Landon Winkler, our new Shadows over Vathak Line Developer, "up to speed" on all things Fat Goblin Games, Shadows over Vathak, and Antikthon-related. To that end, just today, I had to bang out over 1,500 words in response to a single question/comment he made just to fully explain a whole rationale of why things are the way they are in the setting -- and that's 1,500 words I'll never get to directly publish (ideally, it informs a lot of his future work, so here's hoping).

For those that don't know, 2,000 words written is considered an industry standard for "a day's work" (i.e. 8 hrs) but almost every freelancer I know can explain that that's not really a meaningful number (one freelancer asked his friends in the biz "What's the most number of words you'd written in one day that were published?" and while I answered in the 4,000 - 5,000 range, some people on his Fb were giving 10,000-20,000 words! (which I also get, I wrote the 94 page Call to Arms: Mantles of Power in a fever-dream of 5-6 days, and almost all of that is original text (like 90%+) and a quick Word Count shows the original manuscript clocked in at ~60,000 words, so even at 6 days it likely meant I was banging out 10k a day).

Anyways, this is all to say a LOT of great stuff in "coming down the line" but adding to the hecticness of my life was my wife's birthday last weekend and my birthday on Easter of all things (upstaged by a bunny!). But I'm trying to send to The Fattest Goblin all the bits and pieces of Send in the Clowns, a compiled vs. Stranger Stuff RPG + Three Standalone Adventures for a Complete RPG Experience in one (fairly slim) volume!

While also still trying to get Landon up to speed, and get all the Hoardelings moving forward on their projects, while appeasing The Fattest Goblin of Them All -- AND we're even missing The Janitor largely this week because he's busy with life before shipping off for the next year to a different country!

Thank you all then or your patience and Happy Easter!

Lucus Palosaari on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & LinkedIn -- and now on Amazon!

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The Art of Illusion

The Art of Illusion

Hi everyone,

My name is Kim, I’m one of the members of the Fat Goblin’s Hoarde, and this is my first blogpost here on the FGG website. I’m the author of 2 of FGG’s publications (Astonishing Races: Samsaran and Sidebar #31 - Non-Combat XP & Non-Monetary Rewards), with more to come.

Today though, I’ve been asked to do something a little different, and write up a post on Illusion magic, something that I’ve been playing around with in my head for some time now.

First though, we need to attend to the matter of what MAKES an illusionist. If we take our modern dictionary it defines an illusionist as “a person who performs tricks that deceive the eye”. If we look at the more fantastic definition of we can go to Paizo’s definition “Illusionists use magic to weave confounding images, figments, and phantoms to baffle and vex their foes.”

As you can see both of these make sense within their limited context, but the illusionist is, to me, both a combination of the two and more than the whole of them. As such I’d define them more along the lines of “Illusionists use magic and tricks to deceive the eye and the mind, conjure up images of the impossible and use these to misdirect, mislead and defeat their enemies”.

Now, Illusion is one of the magic schools that have 5 subschools (figment, glamer, pattern, phantasm and shadow), each of which has its own strength and purpose. I’ve chosen to briefly summarize them below, and give an example of where you can experience something that resembles this.

Figments create false sensations. – This could in effect be anything sensory, but it would need to be something that can be experienced by multiple people, which would usually be sight, sound, and smell, though you could argue that there might be cases where touch and taste might come into play.

The lowest level example that you can find is the 0-level spell Ghost Sound. Ghost Sound does exactly what is says. It makes a sound or noise, up to a certain level of noise depending on the caster’s level. But where, in my experience, people often think that bigger is better for this spell, I don’t think that’s the case.

Case in point: Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. When they’re in the Death Star, and he is heading towards the Death Star core, he uses a Jedi ability to confuse two Storm Troopers, into thinking they heard something. Ghost Sound does just that, creates a sound, and could easily be used as a way to trick someone into heading somewhere else. In this particular case, you could possibly argue, that if Obi-Wan had chosen a louder noise, the Storm Troopers would have called in backup, rather than checking it out themselves. Lesser really was more on this occasion.

Glamers change the targets sensory qualities – Basically, this means that it changes how something tastes, feels looks or sounds. (As opposed to Figments that create these out of thin air).

Again, looking at low-level spells, a good example is Disguise Self, a 1st level spell. It allows you to change your appearance within certain limitations. You cannot change your appearance beyond a certain height and weight, it doesn’t change your sound and you cannot change your race.

In this case, we can turn to the Harry Potter universe for a good example: The Polyjuice Potion – While the Polyjuice Potion fails rather spectacularly for Hermione, as it doesn’t allow her to change her race (at least in her first attempt), we can see the effect with Harry and Ron. It changes their appearance completely to look like their intended targets, but it doesn’t change their voices, but they look exactly like their targets. (Admittedly the Polyjuice Potion is a bit more powerful than the Disguise Self spell, since it changes the tactile feel of the targets as well, but it serves as a good example).

Patterns create images that enthrall, startles or dazzles onlookers – In effect, this is any type of pattern that would attract attention and cause people to miss whatever else might be going on around them.

The low-level example for this one is Color Spray. You unleash a cone of colors that stuns, blinds or even knocks creatures unconscious. For something like this, I’m going to turn to the Lord of the Rings.

Not one of Gandalf’s most powerful spells, the visuals for this one was fantastic, however, and I dare say that most people who saw it in the cinemas were likely dazzled and intrigued when they saw the Dragon that his rocket made. And the hobbits caught in the fireworks tent were most definitely stunned as well.

Mastering the Art of Illusion

Phantasms conjure up images that only the caster and targets can see – On the most basic level, the caster makes someone see something that isn’t there, but only to that target and the caster himself. Everyone else is unaffected.

For this particular subschool, we turn to Phantasmal Killer, a much higher level spell than seen previously, and much more lethal. It conjure up the most fearsome thing that the target’s subconscious can think of, whatever that may be (with the caster only seeing a vague shape), taking the form of the deepest fears.

Of course, for something like this we turn to horror films, and what better one to go for than Pennywise from It? Having no true form, it takes on the form of the things that scare the children the most, like the monstrous clown Pennywise. (Incidentally, if you want to get back at Pennywise for giving you childhood nightmares, check out Vs. Clowns) – In theory, this monster could take on any form, of whatever of whatever scares them the most.

Another good example would be Scarecrow’s fear Toxin from Batman, making you see thing that aren’t there, and in certain cases, scaring you into insanity and death.

Finally, Shadows create something that is partially real – and are the main damage dealer spells of the Illusion school. These will cause real damage (if not disbelieved) and up to 50% damage, as they are partially real, even against those disbelieving them.

A Bloodshade, an interesting combination of shadow and illusion magic

For this spell it is Shadow Conjuration – a relatively simple spell that summons partially real versions of any summoning or creation subschool spells of 3rd level or lower. As such you could cast anything from Monster Summoning I or Mage Armor to Monster Summoning III or Stinking Cloud. As such it is clear that while it might be less effective than these normally (if disbelieved) it allows for an enormous potential for versatility.
Finding an example for a Shadows type of spell is the most difficult, simply due to the fact that they, by definition, appear to be real, and can actually do damage. So the choice this time is equally unusual. The one we’ll go for is the dragons from the book or film Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. The dragons are real when close to the Wyrmberg (not disbelieved), but the further away from it, they get, the more insubstantial they become (as they’re affected by the disbelief of the world).

Now that’s an awful lot of text to describe the effects of the subschools, but it goes to show that Illusion deserves more attention than it’s been getting.
I have 2 more things I want to address here, though, though they are connected, and that is a particular sentence written in regards to Illusion magic, in this case coming from the Pathfinder RPG “Creatures encountering an illusion usually do not receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion.”

This is where it gets muddy, because what exactly defines careful study or interaction? I’d say that the way to carefully study an Illusion spell (at least as a quick and dirty house rule) is to allow for a Perception Check with a DC equal to the saving throw for the spell (if no save DC is given for the spell simply go for 10 + level of the spell + the casting modifier of the caster) and a minute of study per level of the spell. That means that low-level spells are the least complex and easiest to penetrate, while higher level spells require a lot more effort. – Only should they pass this Perception check will they be allowed to save against the spell. (A book example of this can be found in David Eddings’ Sparhawk series, as they’re passing through an illusionary wall, with companions explaining to each other that it is not real, and therefore giving saving throw modifiers).

Interaction with an illusion spell is a bit more nebulous, but it seems to be mostly combat oriented, so a simply saving throw, given on the first damage dealt should reveal it. Failing the saving throw means you continue to take damage as normal. Of course it is possible to interact with thing like illusionary walls, but that would come under the same effect as the careful study.

And with that, I’ll conclude this relatively shallow dive into Illusion magic. Let us know in the comments if you want to know more about Illusion magic.

This is Kim, signing off for now! If you like this blog consider checking out some of the other things I have written on RPGNow!

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Changes to Blogging for Fat Goblin Games in 2017

Changes to Blogging for Fat Goblin Games in 2017

Hello All,

Lucus here, doing his first official blog for The Fattest of Goblins in 2017! Welcome, you've survived another year, well done.

Last year, despite a total loss of our previous website and all its blog content (see all about it here from last April) we still produced over 100+ blog posts about a range of topics from the latest News to regular updates on Steampunk Musha to other lines of books to even just some of my personal musing on the RPG Industry (see especially the to-be-completed discussion of roles in the RPG industry here!). It wasn't just myself blogging twice weekly either this past year, as J Gray for instance managed his Falkenstein Fridays for the rebirth of Castle Falkenstein here at Fat Goblin Games.

The problem is, all those blogs take time. A LOT of time really. And time spent blogging about Steampunk Musha, for instance wasn't being spent writing for SpM. This lead to a problem, that I was spending 20+% or so of my week just blogging about stuff, and while blogs can be important, and even lead to sales by featuring products and previews, it might be better if I can dedicate more of that time actually creating, editing, and otherwise producing new content.

Likewise, merely bringing on more bloggers isn't the only answer, as time J Gray spends blogging about Castle Falkenstein cuts into his precious time writing adventures in New Europa, or having Rodney Sloan take over blogging duties for Steampunk Musha just means spending a bit of his time that he could have been working on the world of Rosuto-Shima, out here talking about working on it!

So, a New Years Resolution of sorts for Fat Goblin Games. The blogs aren't going away, but we're going to be shifting their focus and how often we blog. I'll still be doing my once-weekly blog on Thursdays, about a wide range of topics. But now "preview blogs" will be more commonly handled as previews via our various Facebook pages:

Join our online communities on Facebook!

Fat Goblin Games -- Our Main Company Page

Shadows over Vathak -- Our Horror-themed Setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Steampunk Musha -- Our East Asian/Steampunk Mashup Setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Castle Falkenstein -- Our group for fans of Castle Falkenstein, new and old.

vs. M Engine -- Our group for vs. M Engine, which supports vs. Ghosts, vs. Stranger Stuff, vs. Moon Men, and others.

And we're likely to add to this list in the coming months as we announce and release new product lines in support of other topics and systems.

Additionally, Rodney Sloan and others (more on that later) will be blogging about their respective worlds and settings twice a month here on, but doing at-least-once-a-week posts (often more, especially as product releases) via their respective Facebook pages.

J Gray has really shown me, at least, how a vibrant and active community can be helpful to the design process AND be much easier for all to engage and be engaging using Facebook as our social media platform for this. If you have even a passing interest in Castle Falkenstein, Victoriana, or steampunk in general I highly recommend you follow that link above to join the group. J's likely to continue his weekly Falkenstein Friday blogs for the foreseeable future, and he posts previews and design questions often on the CF Fb page for gamer feedback, so join him wont you!

To give you an idea of those preview blogs, check out the newest one for Call to Arms: Horses & Mules by Jennifer R. Povey.

So, expect to see leaner, meaner, greener(?) blogs from the Fat Goblin Hoarde and myself in 2017, and join us on Facebook to discuss all things FGG!

Lucus Palosaari on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & LinkedIn -- and now on Amazon!

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We Three Bastards and our Fat Goblin Hoarde

We Three Bastards and our Fat Goblin Hoarde

Hello All,

This blog, itself, will be short, but that's because the time and effort I would have put into the blog instead went into sprucing up our "About Us" pages, in that we're splitting our lists so that Rick Hershey, Troy Daniels, and I are on an About We Three Bastards page (with images!) and our About the Fat Goblin Hoarde page, the group of freelancers that regularly write for us.

Check out About We Three Bastards here!

Check out About the Fat Goblin Hoarde here! 

Lucus Palosaari on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & LinkedIn -- and now on Amazon!

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Enlist in the Goblin Army, Freelancer Bootcamp Starts Today!

Enlist in the Goblin Army, Freelancer Bootcamp Starts Today!

Hello All,

So this past Monday, we launched our own ultra-mega bundle of all our products from all the way back in 2004 (for one of our imprints, Tricky Owlbear Publishing) or 2011 (for Fat Goblin Games proper) all the way up to December 31st, 2015. That totaled up to over 290+ books with over 3,000 pages of content (even when you cut out the OGLs and such). We’re calling it The Goblin Hoarde’s Hoard Bundle, as we’re essentially tapping into the vault of works we have, to try to offer them to you for a drastic discount (95% or more, depending on if you use ‘sale’ prices or MSRP etc).

If you look at our original blog-post about it from Monday, you can see how we roughly talk about that bundle representing our “Past.” All of our books released this year since January 1st, 2016 – we’re calling that our “Present.” We’ve released something like 200+ products this year, with only half of them being “stock art.” Many are even larger and longer books, sometimes in new and different system than we normally have focused on from 5th edition to OSR, to the vs. M Engine; all alongside our staple of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game books. If we can convince the Fattest Goblin of Them All to do it, we’ll likely offer one or more big bundles of all of 2016 books in some fashion (for instance, split by systems) -- but we’ve still got three months to round out that collection.

But today, I want to talk to you about our “Future” or at least part of it. I’m talking about the Goblin Army Fan Club on Patreon.

Why Patreon?

I’ve personally wondered if Patreon holds a better future for us than Kickstarting in our industry for quite some time, and I’m not alone. A sad fact of the matter is that even with recent growth to the tabletop roleplaying game industry, there just isn’t the kind of capital needed to make large books at the quality that you, the consumer expects. So, some form of crowdfunding is often going to get tapped.

There are many ways to use Patreon and other people in the industry have been using Patreon to varying levels of success. Endzeitgesit and John Reyst of come to mind as two of the larger RPG-related Patreons, and rather than focusing too strongly on the creation of content, what they are really offering is a “service” to members of the RPG community (reviews and maintenance of an SRD site, respectively). This model of treating Patreon more as a service and less as either a “tip jar” and/or as a subscription (both viable methods, if you’re willing and able to tie your production to the success or failure of the system) is part of what lead to us to some of our ideas for our Goblin Army Patreon.

We’re offering a number of levels, with the low-ball $1 per month Goblin Patriot level that gets you in the room, to the $3 per month Low-Life Mercenary level that gets you a voice of your own in that room AND the occasional opportunity to beta read early access versions of upcoming books and in-development works, to $5 per month Grunt level that gives you some Q&A opportunities and special access to exclusive discussion of our process, as well as offers and giveaways we won’t give anywhere else – we’re trying to offer some fairly low-level, easy access offerings to get in to and behind the scenes at Fat Goblin Games. But that’s not all.

We’re also offering things like our $10 Sergeant Scum level, which gets you into the Fat Goblin Army Google Hangout for 24/7 chance to talk to us about anything and everything on your mind, as well as see us working with the $20 Freelance Bootcampers (or call them occasionally the Bootstrappers). We’ve limited the number of Freelancers right now to the 5 early enlistment slots + the 10 regular spots, but only 4 out of the 15 spots have been taken so act now and you can get in on all the fun. What fun you ask? Let me tell you all about it!

What the Freelancer Bootcamp Is Not!

Right off the bat, it’s very easy to tell you what the Freelancer Bootcamp is NOT. It is not you getting complete professional editing for your 1,000+ page/100,000+ word magnum opus of a world setting, and it’s not any kind of guarantee that anything we work on with you will be published by ourselves or anyone else for that matter.

On the first point, professional editing comes in various forms (are we talking about a deep, content edit or a light copy editor’s proofing?) Bare-minimum rates for that kind of thing start at $1 per page/$0.01 per word rates, so that 100,000 word document would cost you $1,000+ to have us look at it in full. And you can double to triple that number if you’re wanting serious expertise and improvements to the text. So unless you’re backing us for a serious amount of money on Patreon (totally an option in my mind!) you’re NOT getting that. <<also, we’d need to an extra 24 hours every day to get anything done!>>

And as I said, we’re not guaranteeing we, one of our imprints, or any other publisher can or will release what you have us help on. There are numerous reasons for this, but a simple fact of the matter is that if/when we are publishing your work WE should be paying YOU for it.

So, what are you getting?

What the Freelancer Bootcamp Is!

First lets look at the promised pitch from the Patreon page:

Freelancer Bootcamp! So, you want to work in the game industry? Well, beyond making hundreds of our own products, Fat Goblin Games also produces content and aids other publishers in creating their books. From writing and editing, to art and layout, we know this industry and we can help you!

Game Designers

  • In-house templates to help increase your work flow and presentation.
  • Reviews of your writing and project pitches.
  • Proof-reading and editing to polish your manuscripts.
  • One-on-one sessions to go over your ideas.

Artists/Graphic Designers

  • Portfolio reviews and critiques.
  • Sample art briefs.
  • Business negotiation and contracts.
  • One-on-one sessions going over your work.

 Either way, at this level you get hand-on attention to make you the best freelancer possible.


Writing Coaches for Your Tabletop RPG Projects

I’ve been trying to figure out what best describes what we’re trying to offer, and I think back to my days as a writing coach at the MTU Writing Center as both an undergraduate and graduate student. There, I worked with everyone from freshman that had to suddenly know how to do a bibliography for the first time in their lives because their high school education failed them, to PhD candidates that were praying to get their research into an academic journal and needed someone else’s eyes to look over their work. I’ve even worked in the WC with one associate professor on readability of her textbook she’d been preparing as a primer for her fiend of expertise.

And while working with these folks of varying skill level, typically for 1 hour sessions once a week, what I was really offering them was someone else to talk to about their ideas, their writing, to discuss concerns they have with content, with grammar, with the process of creating necessary components of an assignment or even, in the case of a few international students, helped them fill out the paperwork right for things like driver’s licenses.

All of these experiences directly relate into the kinds of things we want to offer you, a potential freelancer interested in working in the tabletop RPG (or even other fields) industry. At a minimum, you will get access to a Google Hangout with Troy Daniels, Rick Hershey, and myself – the We Three Bastards that run Fat Goblin Games and produce those 200+ RPG products a year, from stock art and 1 page Sidebars to the nearly complete 450+ page Shadows over Vathak: Player’s Guide (I’m doing review on the galley copy now, want to see it? Maybe if you join the GA you can!)

Rick and Troy have a long history in the biz, both reaching back to the 90’s (and likely further for old-man Troy, The Janitor, but he won’t pin down exact dates). Myself, I’ve been at this now for 3 full years as of Oct, but also bring along nearly a decade of teaching and coaching composition, and a year’s worth of managing a dozen+ freelancers and their score of projects, as well as my experience with a other publishers and freelancers. Add to this the opportunity for “guests” pulled both from the publishing world and our own Goblin Hoarde.

You look at that grin, and you just know what he eats every day...

We also have resources set up to share with you, like our Fat Goblin Games Style Guide, which gives not only various templates of what components should be included in a stat block or whether or not to use the serial comma in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products, but also resources like our Google Group for the Goblin Army which will get additional resources shared like race and class templates, discussions of the artistic process etc.

... then again, this is The Fattest Goblin's version of me, here preforming orally.

You’ve Got Questions, and We’ll Provide Answers

But a book, or a video, or text isn’t always enough. There are great and massive tomes written about game design, and we highly recommend them to you. Read them, discuss them with friends, consider them deeply. But you can read all the books and webpages you want, but it won’t let you know for certain if you set up your OGL in the back of your book right. Or how to properly reference a section of the elf race. It won’t give you a clear answer on if your product can be sold on the DMsGuild or if you should release it under the OGL for 5th edition.

Likewise, Rick in particular, can give you feedback on a number of other matters. What’s a fair wage as a writer? As an artist? How do you get your art out there? What’s the best way to get noticed? Is this contract fair? We’re not lawyers <we'd be richer if we were!>, but he’s been at it long enough that he can at least make suggestions of what to look for and what to avoid, and while you can try asking these kinds of questions in other spaces, you have three dedicated people that want to get you the right answers every time.

Bottom Line about Freelancer Bootcamp

Will we review text you submit, via email or to the Google Hangout or the Google Group?Yes. We may not review your entire 100,000 word world setting on Day 1, but if you give it to us in bits and pieces, we’ll work out way through it. Its not going to be a hard and fast “You can only submit XXX words per month – instead, you can consider it this way.

  • If you post 500 or fewer words at one time, we’ll give it a hard and deep look really analyzing it and comparing it to existing examples etc.
  • If you posted 1,000 words at one time, we’ll give it a full read through and share out thoughts and concerns.
  • If you posted 2,500 words at one time, we’ll scan the whole thing and point out a few things of interest.
  • If you posted 5,000+ words at one time, we’ll skim it and make a comment or two.

So, if you’re worried about a new round of RPG Superstar, and want to pass a few items buy us – we could help you build up your item building chops. If you really love new monsters in your homebrew games, but want them to be fair and balanced for your table, we can make sure you’re doing it right. If you want another set of eyes and ears to talk about your “big idea” – then we’re there for you.

Feel free to ask questions here, on Facebook, or even on the Patreon itself as some posts are purposefully made public for anyone interested in seeing what we’ve got going on!

Lucus Palosaari on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & LinkedIn -- and now on Amazon!

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