Apr 302012

Quick post today.

What’s it take for our in-preorder Don’t Read This Book to be profitable? This is going to be based on an approximation of the costs of the writing, editing, cover art, printing, and other line items.

So, approximately:

At the time of this writing our webstore preorder has got 46 softcovers and 48 ebooks sold, which is a fine start; we’re seeing modest performance in our third party ebook vendors (~60 DriveThru, ~25 Amazon, ~2 B&N). In aggregate that adds up to about 20% of the revenue we need in order to make it into the black.

It’d be tempting to look at the above and think, Oh holy crap, I’d better order through Evil Hat! But that’s not necessarily the right conclusion. Sales through those other venues tend to produce more sales through those venues (as do reviews on those sites & such), whereas sales through our webstore stay largely invisible in terms of the collective perception of demand for the product. So, ideally, I’d love to see a big healthy mix of sales through all of those channels. Ultimately, buy where is convenient for you and ideologically comfortable to do so — but once you buy, if you enjoy, please turn someone else on to the book, whether it’s with a review, a blog post, a tweet, or a (gasp!) face to face conversation.

EDIT: Those eager to proclaim the uselessness of print books should take note: the print sales have the best per-sale shot of getting us into the black even in distribution, and for that matter the initial printing only represents about a third of our cost. Drop to an ebooks-only strategy here, and we’d still need 800-ish direct sales of the e-books to get in the black, or over 1200 through Amazon & the like. The whole “print books cost so much more than ebooks to produce” argument, at least with our print run strategy, is on shaky ground. I’ve elected to price the anthology in ebook format at $5 and the softcover at $15; if I was simply making the ebook the cost of the softcover, minus the proportion of the cost of a print run, it’d come out at more like $10. For Evil Hat, new to fiction, I don’t think that a $10 pricepoint for a 50k word anthology is supportable (rather: I have a gut feeling like we’d see fewer than half the sales we get at $5 if we priced it at $10, so the economics dictate the $5 pricepoint). But I’d sure understand the hell out of a publisher who decided to go that route.

Apr 242012

Don’t Read This Book is up for preorder.

This is an anthology of 13 stories by a boatload of crazily talented authors, set in the world of Don’t Rest Your Head. Seriously, check out that author list: Stephen Blackmoore, Harry Connolly, Rich Dansky, Matt Forbeck, Laura Anne Gilman, Will Hindmarch, Mur Lafferty, Robin D. Laws, Ryan Macklin, C.E. Murphy, Josh Roby, Greg Stolze, and Monica Valentinelli.

And, man, these stories. They really mine all the dark corners of promise from the setting. I’m ridiculously pleased.

It’ll ship by early June, but folks who preorder the softcover now will get to download the anthology as well in a variety of ebook formats (PDF, Kindle, Nook, etc). We’re holding off on selling the ebooks solo until we know we’re shipping out the softcovers, so for folks who want to read now now now, the preorder’s the way to go.

Retailer folk: The distributors may not know about this thing yet, but it’s EHP1002, and available for “instant content preorder” support via Bits & Mortar.

Check out the product page for more details!

EDIT: We’ve put up the “all the ebook formats” version as well, now, given the crazy high costs the site’s quoting for international shipping. Have at!

EDIT #2: We’ve got it up for sale at a variety of ebook vendors. Here:

If you’ve enjoyed the book and are inclined to post a review on any of those sites, it would help us out a bunch. Please buy wherever is convenient for you! Don’t Read This Book is already enjoying the #1 hot-spot on DriveThruFiction — purchases and reviews help visibility, always!

Dec 272011

So I’ve recently been pushing hard to make sure Evil Hat has enough plates spinning at once that we’ll have a pretty steady (if a bit irregular) slate of releases once the projects start reaching their conclusions. This means I have a spreadsheet with about a baker’s dozen projects listed in it, all in various states of development. And because Evil Hat is all about the transparency, I’m going to share some of what I’ve got in there — basically an outline for our nearish future in 2012 and beyond (sans release dates, because we don’t do that sort of thing).

It’s worth saying that some of these things aren’t surefire, definitely-happening projects — sometimes the project is figuring out if it’s a project — but most of them are capturing some amount of my attention on a regular basis, and I certainly want them to happen.

Do we have the money to make all of these projects happen at once, simultaneously? No. (We do have enough money to make sure the creative folks working on the projects get paid for their efforts — that’s my necessary minimum.) But they won’t be happening simultaneously, and in at least a few (or maybe even many) cases, we’ve got the option to throw a little Kickstarter juice at them. Our ambitions would be just a tad smaller if we didn’t have the option of crowdfunding in the mix. Thanks to Kickstarter, our ambitions are having a bit of a right time, right place quality to them, which is great.

Let’s get into the details.

Role-Playing Games

Don’t Rest Your Head

Don’t Hack This Game: Hopefully you’ve read the post about this already. Don’t Rest Your Head is over 5 years old at this point, and Ryan Macklin & I think there’s been a lot of great, creative play and hackery going on out there. Don’t Hack This Game will be a supplement for Don’t Rest Your Head where we collect some of the best ideas and give folks a roadmap for hacking the game to be what they want it to be. The system can be bent into all sorts of shapes, but that’s really only one piece of the puzzle.

Dresden Files

The Paranet Papers: This has been one of the “big dog” projects since the Dresden Files RPG launched. The Paranet Papers is part system update and setting catch-up (getting us mostly current into the beginning bits of Ghost Story), part campaign starter kit. That latter part is being addressed by us cracking up the city creation mold a bit and looking at six different “cities” that do it a little differently, all viewed in light of the fallout from Changes. Those locations: Las Vegas; the “Neverglades”; the open road (taking the Dresden Files in more of a Supernatural direction); the Russian Revolution; South America; and some of the “outlands” of the Nevernever.

DF Adventures: Fairly recently we got ink on a contract addendum that lets us do a handful of “for-pay” adventure arcs for the Dresden Files RPG. Previously we were only in the clear to do free web support type stuff, which is where our collection of one-shots for the Dresden Files (as well as a Fiasco scenario) came from. Now, we’re going to get to do some more ambitious stuff. We’ve got three such projects slated, and the option to do more. You’ll probably see these parcel out over the course of the next two years; at least one of them will include some new details about the Dresdenverse gathered straight from the Word of Jim.


Fate Core: This would be that new core Fate book that we’ve been promising folks since Spirit of the Century. We haven’t been burbling about this as much as we could over on FateRPG.com, but that doesn’t mean the project’s on hold. Lenny is in straight up nose to the grindstone mode with this one; we’re hoping to have the full text to an editorial squad by February.


Bubblegumshoe: Evil Hat’s going to be exploring Pelgrane Press’s Gumshoe system a bit, with a focus on taking it in some more deeply “story-game” directions, in a pair of projects. The first of these is Bubblegumshoe, the teen detective roleplaying game. In essence, we’re looking for something that runs the gamut from Nancy Drew to Veronica Mars here — a mostly female-protagonist perspective, but with plenty of room for Hardy Boys and The Great Brain besides — with a focus on how our teen investigators interact with the authority figures and other relationships in their lives. This one’s got a trio of RPG experts working on it: Kenneth Hite, Emily Care Boss, and Lisa Steele.

Revengers: Evil Hat’s other Gumshoe system game will be penned by Will Hindmarch and features ghosts-as-cops who investigate murders for the recently dead and, when possible, get revenge for them. This one will be half whodunit, half let’s-get-’em, and Will and I have been talking about making several system decisions that put some real story-shaping power in the players’ hands, as well as building some unity between the game-space and the story-space. That’s a bit gearheaddy, so let me stress again: you’re dead cops solving murder mysteries and haunting the bejeezus out of the murderers. Badass.

Spirit of the Century

Strange Tales of the Century: A Spirit of the Century inflected tour of the mostly-real international pulps that existed in the first half of the 20th Century, with geek librarian superstar Jess Nevins as your tour guide.  This will be a must-have for fans of pulp who want to break outside of the often-common American-inflected mold. Strange Tales of the Century is one has been in the works for a while, but got spun into an editorial limbo a few years back. We’ve managed to breathe new life into it with an expanded editorial team and believe we’ll see this one out in 2012 for sure.

Board/Card Game

Race to Adventure: One of our two big forays into the board game arena. Race to Adventure!™ is an easy-to-learn family board game you can play in 20-30 minutes. It features heroes from the Spirit of the Century setting racing around the globe on a scavenger hunt, trying to be the first to get their passports stamped and return to the Century Club’s home base. Of course, they run into all sorts of complications from the villainous masterminds of the SOTC setting along the way. The game was designed by Evan Denbaum, Eric Lytle, and Chris Ruggiero, features card art by Spirit of the Century illustrator Christian N. St. Pierre, and graphic design by Daniel Solis.

Zeppelin Armada: The flipside of Race to Adventure, Zeppelin Armada is a fightin’ card game featuring the villainous masterminds of the Spirit of the Century setting. An artifact of ultimate power has been discovered — and EVERYONE wants it. So they gas up their zeppelins, and of course, all arrive at the site of the artifact at the same time. A nasty brawl ensues! Featuring rules designed by Jeff Tidball. This one’s going to end up coming up a little bit behind Race to Adventure in part because we’re using the same artist for both projects — there’s only so much he can draw at once!


Don’t Read This Book: A fiction anthology set in the Don’t Rest Your Head setting, edited by Chuck Wendig. This features some incredible authors — I’m seriously agog we got the roster we did for this — but I can’t list all the names just yet. I can say that it will contain a new short story by one of my favorite authors, Harry Connolly, and that I have read it, and that it is fantastic.

Dinocalypse Now: A novel — possibly the start of a trilogy if it is well-received — set in the Spirit of the Century universe, as psychic dinosaurs from the distant past try to take over the present and rule the future. Chuck Wendig will be writing this one, with the pulp action and strange science dials cranked to eleven. Expect to see the heroes from Race to Adventure put in an appearance, including our game’s classic love triangle, Jet, Sally, and Mack.

Graphic Novel

ElectriCity: ElectriCity will be a stand-alone graphic novel written by longtime friend C. E. Murphy — a superhero story set in a new world, with the rivalry between Tesla and Edison as part of the backstory of it all. We’ve been having a lot of fun developing the script and are working on finishing that up and assembling the artistic team. More than any other project on our roster, we’ll be relying on Kickstarter to help us determine if this is just a lovely dream or something we can actually bring to the world. 🙂

Mystery Projects

We do have a couple of them — pipe dreams, or opportunities that haven’t gotten any momentum yet. In nearly all of these cases that adds up to shouldn’t or can’t when it comes to talking about them, so I’m going to simply put a footnote here at the bottom that what I have listed above is not necessarily the whole span of what we’re hoping to do. In most cases, though, if something’s not listed above, it’s a project more likely to happen in 2013 than 2012 — though any of the above projects could end up in 2013 as well simply due to scheduling and effort particulars.

Dec 192011

Announcing Don’t Hack This Game!

Ryan Macklin and I have worked together on a few mad ideas, but the one we’re going to talk about today may be the maddest of them all! One of Evil Hat’s earliest games, Don’t Rest Your Head, has been out for five years now, and people have been doing all sorts of crazy hacks with it in that time. With its simple engine of exhaustion & madness, it’s inspired a lot of you awesome folks to do crazy-awesome things with it.

That’s the book we want to make, the next chapter in the Don’t Rest Your Head line: Don’t Hack This Game. And because you inspired it, we want you to be a part of it.

Articles We’re Looking For

We are looking for articles on hacking Don’t Rest Your Head’s system (exhaustion, madness, dice pools, responses, questionnaire, etc.), existing setting, new settings & rules supporting them, GM tricks, and so on. Articles may not be based on other intellectual property (so we can’t take your Shadowrun hack, but we could a generic or original cyberpunk-with-magic one).

Each article should be 1000-2000 words long.

Please read my post about hacking the dice pools in DRYH, as that’ll help understand where we see the handles in the game:
(You’re free to post comments if you disagree, by the way! We welcome conversation.)

You may also want to grab the free DRYH adventure, The Bad Man. It contains revised rules (in condensed form) for the game, notably the PvP & helping rules:

Pitching Us Ideas & Deadlines

If you have an article idea, send Ryan Macklin (macklin@evilhat.com) the following information:

1. Topic or subject of the article, summarized in 200 words or less
2. Expected length of article (i.e. a ballpark between 1000 and 2000 words)
3. Full name and contact information (e-mail address, etc).
4. A brief background of past game or hobby writing experience or publications, if any

You may submit up to five proposals, although in most cases only one proposal will be accepted. Multiple proposals may be submitted in a single e-mail; in this case, contact info and background info only need to be included once.

The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, January 4th, 2012. If your proposal is accepted, you will be notified within 7 days after the close of the open call window. Once you know if your proposal is accepted, you will have until Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 to submit your completed draft.

We’ll turn that around within four weeks, and if there’s anything we need to have you revise, you’ll get notes from us with expectation of four weeks to turn it around.

Compensation, etc.

Compensation for articles is 5 cents per word, 50% upon acceptance of your completed draft & 50% upon publication. You will also receive a copy of the final product and, of course, credit for your article.

If your article is accepted for publication, you’ll be licensing it to Evil Hat Productions for publication. That means you’ll own your work, but Evil Hat gets to publish it in Don’t Hack This Game first.

After six months, you may publish your article on your blog or wherever, so long as it’s non-commercial (otherwise, you’re using Evil Hat’s IP, Don’t Rest Your Head, without authorization). Naturally, you can contact us about this if that’s an issue.

What “acceptance” means: Your article is not considered accepted until we receive your draft and you have made any revisions we call for. Once we receive that and do a final review, we’ll let you know if it’s accepted and give you a contract for the work.

We are still currently evaluating our publishing options for this product, whether this will be electronic-only or electronic & print.

For More Information

If you have a question, you can either comment on Ryan’s mirror of this blog post, or you can email the anthology’s editor, Ryan Macklin, at macklin@evilhat.com.

All queries/pitches will be via email if you wish for a response. If you do it over Twitter or Facebook or whatever, Ryan will roll his eyes at yet another writer who can’t follow directions, and ignore it. 🙂

Comments should happen over on Ryan’s blog rather than here: http://RyanMacklin.com/2011/12/dont-hack-this-game/

Dec 122011

I wrote this over on the Forge back in 2008 but I shouldn’t rely on its archival boards to be available in perpetuity nor speedily, so I’m replicating it here, now. This is a bit on some of my internal brain-map on how the dynamics of the Don’t Rest Your Head dice pools work, and ways they might be hacked. You can visit the original thread to get some larger context.

Dice pools in DRYH and DRYH-derived stuff do a few things, as they work inside my head.

  • There are Static pools, which do not change unless acted on under rare, special circumstances.  Example: Discipline
  • There are Slow Accretion pools, which you can only increase one at a time. Example: Exhaustion.
  • Or, there are Fast Surge pools, which can flash up to maximum or anywhere in the range in a single action.  Example: Madness.
  • Slow pools are almost always Sticky — once they’re established, they hang around and must be a part of every roll.  Example: Discipline, Exhaustion (and, to an extent, Permanent Madness).
  • Fast pools are usually Ephemeral— they’re established for a single roll, but they don’t persist afterwards.  Example: Madness.

Dominance of a given dice pool can have a few dominating effects:

  • Any pool can have Graded Consequences — when it dominates, some minor effect happens until you run out, at which point the next dominance produces a major effect.  Example: Madness and Responses and Snapping.
  • Any pool can be Lethal — When it exceeds a limit (or causes some other resource to exceed a limit), the character dies or is otherwise significantly transformed.  Example: Exhaustion, Madness.
  • Any pool can produce Erosion — when it dominates, you can lose a die from another Sticky pool.  Example: Madness and Snapping reduces Discipline; Discipline can reduce Exhaustion or clear off a checked Response.
  • Sticky pools can have Feedback — they can self-increase (add a die to themselves or another pool) when they dominate.  Example: Exhaustion
  • Sticky pools usually have a Pressure Valve that lets you slowly decrease their size over time.  Example: Exhaustion bleeds off when Discipline dominates.
  • I may be missing some other ideas that exist in DRYH, and there may be some that could be added here that aren’t in DRYH.

You’ve got several moving parts you could mess around with.  It’s entirely possible (if potentially dangerous) to create a Fast Surge pool that’s Sticky.  Such as: You could have a pool called Power that’s Fast and Sticky.  You decide that you want 3 dice of Power right now, and you get it, but after the roll those 3 dice hang around — you can’t shake ’em, so each time you roll you’re rolling those Power dice as well, and are subject to the dominating effects.  You could also add a Feedback effect to Power, saying that it increases another pool called Paradox whenever Power dominates. Or give it Erosion, having it eat away at your Stability pool, etc.