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Lord of Rhinos

Mark Smylie, author of Artesia and the Barrow, has a Patreon

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5 hours ago, The Grey Wolf said:

I love worldbuilding so thanks @Ran!

Is the PDF available for purchase of high quality?

He intends to have it available print on demand, so I think yes. I can't see the DPI, but the image quality is high. 

The Artesia RPG was nominated for six Ennies in 2006, including for interior art, production values, writing, and campaign setting (as well as best game and best product), and he wrote, illustrated, and designed the layout for it himself, as here. This one seems very comparable in quality.

It's 164 pages long, covering the history of the setting from creation to the present of the novels. Very dense with information. There's eleven maps (well, 2 maps, with the 2nd one being simpler in style and then featuring details relevant to various eras, showing movements of peoples, expansion and collapses of borders, etc.), and I don't know how many illustrations -- several dozen at least.

There are still some freebies at DriveThruRPG that you can check out before taking the plunge on this book, if interested. The Artesia Compendium contains some of the same information as the Historiae Mundi, and includes the first map as well as some additional regional-level maps. So if reading that leaves you intrigued, I'd definitely recommend the History of the Known World, either through DriveThru or by trying the Patreon (which'll get you access to the history, some more maps and illustrations, the chapters of Black Heart, and Smylie's responses to questions from patrons).

 

Edited by Ran

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@Ran

I asked because when I got the Tekumel sourcebook the reviews said the PDF was subpar and I wanted to make sure that wasn't the case here.

Edited by The Grey Wolf

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1 hour ago, The Grey Wolf said:

@Ran

I asked because when I got the Tekumel sourcebook the reviews said the PDF was subpar and I wanted to make sure that wasn't the case here.

Let me take a look at the reviews to understand what they mean by subpar. And I'll try and see if I can see DPI or something.

 

ETA: Oh, it looks like someone just did an OCR of the print book and caused a mess with that one. No, no, this one is very professionaly produced. Smylie's quite good at book design. Check out the full preview available at the page for it.

Edited by Ran

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@Ran

Thanks! I have an unread copy of "The Barrow" and remember loving the Artesia Compendium while going through it a while back so I'm definitely interested in the setting. (Truth be told, I love worldbuilding so much I'm more likely to produce an encyclopedia than a novel for my own settings.) Anyway, I'm a little confused by his patreon page. How exactly does it work?

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7 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

@Ran

Thanks! I have an unread copy of "The Barrow" and remember loving the Artesia Compendium while going through it a while back so I'm definitely interested in the setting. (Truth be told, I love worldbuilding so much I'm more likely to produce an encyclopedia than a novel for my own settings.) Anyway, I'm a little confused by his patreon page. How exactly does it work?

He has three tiers. The $5 tiers are one that gives access to the new Black Heart chapters only, and one that gives access to world-building material (new maps, the Historiae Mundi, presumably the Geographiae that he intends to start working on that will be an atlas type project, and any other sourcebook-style material for the setting or RPG), then there's the $10 initiate that provides both.

It's a monthly recurring subscription, cancel when you want, etc. All the PDFs, images, etc. are downloadable and are not tied to continuing your subscription.

Edited by Ran

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The first half of Black Heart is now available as a Kindle e-book here. Note that Smylie did not get it looking as he wanted it to look, so while it's perfectly acceptable it is not how he envisioned it. For that, you'll have to go to DriveThru where the book is available as epub and PDF and has exactly the formatting he wanted (including, I believe, the full page chapter illustrations he made which had to be excised from the Kindle edition).

He's had a bit of writer's block on chapter 30 of BH, but will be starting on the Geographiae Mundi and will apparently also be posting some cultural notes and political organization charts for patrons to the Patreon.

 

ETA: Also, the print-on-demand Historiae will take longer than he planned, he won't get proofs for a couple of weeks longer than he was told. In fact, I see the full update post is unlocked, for those wanting it all from the horse's mouth.

Edited by Ran

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Org chart out on the Patreon now. I have to say, I'm always impressed by his design chops. He manages to neatly group together thematically similar things across four or five layers of social hierarchy in a way that makes sense and is easy to follow.

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And two new chapters (the first of which is the 2nd chapter featuring Artesia, following directly on the previous chapter as she leads Bran's forces nto battle), plus a nifty economic trade map showing goods produced by various regions.

Have to say the 2nd of these was really interesting as he tied together biographical history details he revealed back in 2011's Artesia Besieged and gave them literary context. I wonder if he already had this stuff all figured out back then, or if he's just been really good at keeping track of the history notes scattering his comics and RPG and is actively working to integrate them.

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Smylie's really working hard on the map side of things for the Geographiae. An expanded trade map showing the international picture, a topographic map of the royal capital of Therapoli (with promises of a couple more maps just of Therapoli, showing administrative divisions and showing the underworld), and now a very detailed map of the region in which a military campaign is taking place in Black Heart). He's awfully good at the maps and the general design of things. Though the latest chapter (36th so far) is quite a bit of an info-dump (i.e. you really need that map), but the one before it was pretty creepy and a bit lore-rich.

I believe he's readying the Kindle release of Black Heart part 2, collecting another quarter or so of the novel. At least, I assume it's a quarter or so, it feels like he's aiming for about 80 chapters.

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Since the last update, things got a bit quieter on the Black Heart front -- I think he's only released 2-3 chapters, one of them this past week. However, he kept himself busy with what was originally a 6-page short adventure that became a 104 page adventure, The Last Barrow, with maps, art, etc., and has shared his intention to throw himself back into the novel which he estimates has approximately 12 chapters left. He thinks he'll have it done around March. He also notes that it will be setting up things for the next planned novel, Bright Sword

After that, he'll be back to work on  the Historia Geographie, which I suspect map fans will be particularly interested in, and another adventure, plus that adventure... and Sword & Barrow, the new edition of the RPG he's planning. He's been talking with folks at Chaosium about using rules adapted from Runequest (the setting was initially created as a Runequest setting, so it'd be coming back to its roots). The first edition used the Fuzion rule set, but I recall many people saying that it was not well-balanced as soon as characters gained levels/experience.

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