Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of our readers! The holiday will delay our posting, but we'll have it out in no time. In the mean time, read an article we wrote years ago. When written, very few of these ideas were included in Fletnern. Now most are represented!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I was expanding on some of the recent history for Fletnern, and I had a semi-emotional feeling. I was writing about the Vile Ones, the tribe of orcs who were the tops dogs. (If you read 13 Tribes, you will see that the Crooked Swords are now the top tribe.) Anyway, to me, the Vile Ones should instill fear in the hearts of the commoners around the city of Parnania. Now how to get that feeling into the players?
Reputations are a funny thing in role-playing games. The characters know far more than the players ever could. This means that when you’re introducing missions, you need to say things like, “You’ve known about and feared the Vile Ones tribe your whole life. These orcs are known as the best warriors and the most ruthless mercenaries in the Central Plains.” Of course, if you say that, most players immediately start arguing that their characters aren’t afraid of anything, least of all some orcs, but the truth is, this tribe of orcs dominated the region for a generation. Even the most skilled warrior would have a little twinge in the pit of his gut when the Vile Ones are mentioned. He probably lost family members to their assaults.
Then I thought - well, is it fair that I assume that everyone knows who these guys are. After all, the orcish army was huge; would every peasant know the Vile Ones. Yeah - I think so. The story tellers and news bringers of that time would want to tell the most exciting stories, so they would enhance the reputations of the major players. In modern times, everyone knows who the KGB were (are?). Think about the Iraqi Republican Guard. Before Desert Storm, the news media portrayed these soldiers as the most dangerous military on the face of the earth. Afterwards they are best remembered by the joke - Iraqi guns for sale, only dropped once. Are either of these valid - of course not! They are both exaggerations, but with enough storytelling, they are believed.
In my games, the players normally don’t care what the reputation of a group is, if they have a reputation. I write all this cool background stuff, and people seldom care. (Look back at my last entry about how huge Fletnern is, and it might explain why they don’t care. They simply cannot know it all.) What they notice is when a group doesn’t have a reputation. If they never heard of them before, then they know they’re insignificant.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Where’s Fletnern?

Anyone who has bought our products likely knows of the world of Fletnern. Fletnern is the flagship setting for most Board Enterprises products, even when the products are generic. (They truly are generic, but the examples typically come from Fletnern.) So what’s the deal? Well, you can see cheat sheets and starter guides for free at, but even that isn’t the “world”.
I’m a big fan of Ed Greenwood. I love the way he developed his histories. Eons ago, I had the great pleasure to have lunch with Jeff Grubb at GENCON. I was probably not even old enough to drink, but he was short on time (between signings and booth work) and was willing to have lunch with me if I was wiling to fetch it. Between that 45 minutes and several articles he had written for Dragon Magazine, I came to understand what he had done with the Forgotten Realms (as well as MSH, Gamma World and some others). He had taken a huge filing cabinet full of Ed’s disjointed notes and turned them into a coherent book describing a world/campaign setting. Oh, I’m sure Ed helped too, but Ed had been the idea man and Jeff the producer.
What does this have to do with Fletnern? Well, I’m an idea man without a producer. Fletnern is about 1,200 pages of disjointed ideas kept on dozens of computer files and one or two file boxes. There is actually a page in there entitled “lost cities”. No, this isn’t like El Dorado, this is cities that are mentioned in some place in the files, but I have no idea what I was talking about or where that city is supposed to have been. OK, at least half of them are places I renamed, but which new city are they?
See how disjointed this is? That’s how those 1,200+ pages are. And that count doesn’t include the campaigns that likely have setting information in them. I realized a decade ago that Fletnern was too big to publish, so I started to write it up not as a setting book, but instead as The Encyclopedia Fletnernia. Cute, huh? You think I’m off on another tangent, but I’m not. The world of Fletnern is so well developed, that it has ceased to be a marketable product. In order to make it marketable, I would have to cut it down to the point where it was no longer a strong, unique world. I am considering, just writing the Encyclopedia and selling it for $10 despite the fact that its 400 pages long, but I still don’t know if that would be marketable.
So the answer to the question, “Where’s Fletnern?” is simply - it’s stuck in pre-publication because I’m incapable of reducing it to a readable book. I hope you continue to enjoy the free stuff we give out on it, and if the demand increases, you just might see that massive encyclopedia hit the distributors.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Baker’s Dozen Tribes

Earlier this year we announced that we would produce 100 Towns, Book of Wishes, A Baker’s Dozen Tribes, and 100 Daggers. Well, we’re 75% of the way there. A Baker’s Dozen Tribes is available on RPGNow and e23. This book is a pretty detailed look at thirteen different humanoid tribes. Humanoid can mean anything you want from kobolds to orcs to giants to ogres to cavemen, whatever! What matters is the culture, tactics and equipment - all laid out and easy for you to drop right into one of your missions. So why buy this? Well, start with, it’s $1.99. OK, not the best reason, but a good one. Better yet - Ever want to plunk down several dozen orcs, but you hate how generic they are? Use one of these and they won’t be generic any more. Ever have some humanoid tribe come up as a random or wandering monster? What do you do with that? Well, give them a little depth by using these tribes. Stuck for what to do with a corner of your world? You get the picture.
As for 100 Daggers - It’s postponed. We’re still trying to finish 100 Bar Drinks, but the @#$%ing memory stick ate it, and its currently being rebuilt. Yes, I had backups - but they were a week old and had less than half the book. Just venting!