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Onyx Path: The War of the Words [Monday Meeting Notes]


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Of course, the big push this week is for the Trinity Continuum: Aether Kickstarter that goes live at 2pm EDT on this Tuesday, July 19th!

Egad, sir! That is but tomorrow!

Indeed, forsooth – the game is afoot! The War of the Words is about to begin!

Hoping to see you all there at 2pm EDT tomorrow!

Last week I mentioned that I would give you a look at the sketches that led to Shen Fei’s stunning TC: Aether cover art, and so I shall!

I’m in a pretty good position to delve into what could look cool and evocative of the game world with each of the “cover strips”, as we call them, for the Trinity Continuum main setting books. I’ve read and approved the pitch, the outline, and the final text – and have sat down in meetings that hashed out what we were looking for with the book – so when I look to provide sketches for our cover artist, I usually write a long list of what is important and compelling within the book.

For TC: Aether, I actually had to refocus the list a tad once I read the final text, as there was more mentions of the “things that go bump in the night” than previously. With the Martian Invasion now a big part of the events that drive the setting, I also realized that I needed to provide our artists with sketches for OUR Martians and their machines, like this one:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/AetherMartianTechSketch004-small.jpg

With that drawn, I was able to draw up the top section where I wanted Mars – the Red Planet – to be above the game logo, as I had a good guess that with all the emphasis on green aether we’d have a green or greenish logo. The contrast of the red Mars and green logo should make both stand out. And we didn’t just want the planet all by itself up there, let’s let the tripods loom over everything else on the cover, like so:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/AetherSketch003-small.jpg

There’s a certain logic to these strips: there’s a cityscape at the bottom, and above that we work in three possible PC-type characters looking as cool, and as varied, as possible. Somewhere, I’m going to work in an explosion as the TC games are action-adventure at heart. It’s a setting where events are powered by people actually doing stuff. And then there’s the “big head” part, where important NPCs are featured. We want these to provide a feeling for where they fit into motivating the players, so some look tired, or angry, or noble.

Where the elements on the list go is part of the process – is that NPC a “big head” or get an action shot that features them? Is it a small vignette, or does it spread out across the width of the strip? A lot of times those decisions are based on my scribbling thumbnails that play with those locations and sizes. First, a few things from the list I knew would be important to include like London in the fog, and the Tesla/Edison dynamic:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/AetherSketch007-small.jpg

Oh, and a steam train – definitely a steam train! But now that I had the reference, where would the two famous inventors go? (Tesla and Edison are also important because they help ground the setting with actual people that exist in our history – easier to put the fictional events, characters, and gameplay into context.) My feeling is that they are iconic enough that folks would recognize them as headshots – and I wanted one of the three possible-PCs to be an inventor type, so having Tesla in his lab or something wasn’t necessary.

So I put them in with our fictional characters and new, but important, NPCs:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/AetherSketch008-small.jpg

At this point I could kind of guess at the need for a central eye-catching image – again, this would usually be a big explosion – but in this case, I went with a depiction of one of the Aether gates (you’ll learn a lot more about them as you read the text you get for being a backer).

So now I have a few more items on the list: exploring secret places in the world, evil mystic stuff, hansom cabs, that steam train I mentioned, a vampire, and Safari Jack Tallon – the only hero previously named as being a classic exploring Victorian Hero. How much room would any given image get and how would they relate to the other pieces of the strip? Let’s look at some ideas for the hansom cab:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/AetherSketch006-small2.jpg

As you see, I knew I wanted an Aether-using figure defending themselves from something scary; but would it be the killer orangutan ala Rue Morgue, the clockwork assassin, or a werewolf? I went with the werewolf because a) Matthew suggested it to broaden the scary supernatural aspects of the setting, and b) I’d just rewatched the original The Wolf Man movie with Lon Chaney, Jr. on Svengoolie!

That same logic applied – the supernatural aspects, not Svengoolie – towards deciding to have the vampire (and other evil supernaturals) spread go as wide as it does. It was all predicated on the classic Dracula cape spread and having the other monster-types be arrayed in front of that. Like so:

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You’ve got Drac, a floating Bride of Dracula or ghost or banshee, a vampire lord or evil sorcerer, “Jack the Ripper Was A Woman!”, and yer classic nosferatu nosferatu. Gas street lights, cobblestones, and a graveyard to the side gave us our spiritual trouble part of the Era.

With those ideas sketched up, I went back and nailed down our possible-PCs – the sort of cover art characters that are designed to let folks know what sort of characters they could play in the game. Like I mentioned earlier, I knew a gadget/invention Aether-using character would be center to play their green glows off the central gate being a glowing green. A mystic-seeming character, and then a top hat and inverness cape wearing character – maybe with a sword cane. We hadn’t stressed it as much, but the elegant clothes are certainly part of the appeal of the Era.

Then I went through that list and varied the overt gender and ethnicity of the characters. This is important and as art directors it’s up to us to be sure the notes to the artists stress this. Giving us this when the dust settled:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/AetherSketch002-small.jpg

So you take all that, add in Safari Jack blasting a T-Rex (because: dinosaur!) to the smaller art sections, and work out the relative sizes to get this:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/AetherCoverSketch2-small-408x1024.jpg

Based on the sketch, I added a few things – like an entire additional non-Western character – and tweaked a few others, and then the actual illustrator takes the sketch and the notes that I also send, and we get their sketches, which Mirthful Mike and I send back thoughts on until we give the go-ahead for the final and get this wonderful piece:

http://theonyxpath.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/ShenFei_TC-Aether-Cover-Artwork-384x1024.jpg

Some short chamber Boxer Henry point 45 caliber bullet points.

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EX3 Adversaries of the Righteous art by Digital Art Chefs

Today in our meeting, we talked about:

  • The news broke this last week that our sales partners DriveThruRPG and Roll20 were teaming up to work together to integrate their offerings. Folks messaged us wanting to know if this was going to affect us in a bad way. We don’t see that it would, and if they do create a seamless blending of PDFs and VTT, then already having projects on both might be quite a break for us. As always, though, time will tell.
  • Part of that announcement was that the Astral VTT venue was being shut down. It had already been announced months ago that dev work had been discontinued, so this makes sense. Sorry for anyone reading who has campaigns they are still running on Astral – please do migrate to another site now, rather than possibly losing access to parts of your games when Astral shuts down. And, please remember that we have platform-neutral VTT products out on DTRPG, and Scion VTT projects on Foundry and Roll20 (links below), if you’d like to try those out.
  • A reminder that our Gen Con Online panels have been listed and we’d love to talk with you during those – so please sign up, it’s at the beginning of August! (Again, links below).
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CtL Kith and Kin art by Luis Sanz
  • Other DTRPG news is that their huge and famous Xmas in July Sale started this week and we have loads of our projects on sale there! Click on this cute graphic to get there:
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https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/4261/Onyx-Path-Publishing?filters=0_0_0_0_0_31815
  • Of course, their discounts, as huge and legendary as they are, aren’t the frankly ridiculous discounted prices we’re offering this month to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Onyx Path being able to create and sell Chronicles of Darkness projects! This week, you can pick up these CofD PDFs at 10% of their listed prices, that’s 90% off, in honor of the decade we’ve been around, as listed by Impish Ian:

Promethean: The Created 2nd Edition

  • Promethean: The Created 2nd Edition ($2.00)
  • Night Horrors: The Tormented ($1.50)
  • Promethean 2e Condition Cards ($0.30)

3 products, totalling $3.80

Changeling: The Lost 2nd Edition

  • Changeling: The Lost 2nd Edition ($2.00)
  • Changeling 2e Condition Cards ($0.30)
  • Changeling 2e ST Screen ($0.30)
  • Hearts on Trial: Changeling 2e Jumpstart ($0.20)
  • Oak, Ash, and Thorn: Changeling 2e Companion ($0.70)
  • Victorian Lost ($0.90)

6 products, totalling $4.40

Hunter: The Vigil 1st Edition

  • Mortal Remains ($1.50)
  • Tooth and Nail ($0.40)

2 products, totalling $1.90

Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition

  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition ($2.00)
  • Geist 2e ST Screen ($0.20)
  • Memento Mori ($0.50)
  • One Foot in the Grave: Geist 2e Jumpstart ($0.30)
  • Geist Ready-Made Characters ($0.50)

5 products, totalling $3.50

Mummy: The Curse 1st Edition

  • Mummy: The Curse ($2.00)
  • Dreams of Avarice ($0.60)
  • The Avarice Chronicle ($1.00)
  • Book of the Deceived ($1.50)
  • Cursed Necropolis: DC ($1.30)
  • Cursed Necropolis: Rio ($1.30)
  • Eve of Judgment ($0.30)
  • Guildhalls of the Deathless ($1.50)
  • Mummy Virtual Box Set ($2.30)
  • Mummy Ready-Made Characters ($0.20)
  • Sothis Ascends ($1.50)

11 products, totalling $13.50
(the virtual box set is basically a bundle, so it’s more like 10 products at $11.20)

Demon: The Descent

  • Demon: The Descent ($2.50)
  • Demon Storytellers Guide ($1.50)
  • Demon Translation Guide ($0.50)
  • Night Horrors: Enemy Action ($1.50)
  • Demon Seed Collection ($0.30)
  • Demon Interface ($0.50)
  • Demon Condition Cards ($0.30)
  • Demon ST Screen ($0.20)
  • Flowers of Hell: Demon Players Guide ($1.70)
  • Heirs to Hell ($0.50)
  • Demon Ready-Made Characters ($0.50)
  • Splintered City: Seattle ($0.80)

12 products, totalling $9.45

Beast: The Primordial

  • Beast: The Primordial ($2.00)
  • Beast Players Guide ($1.50)
  • Building a Legend ($0.50)
  • Beast Condition Cards ($0.30)
  • Night Horrors Conquering Heroes ($1.30)
  • Beast Ready-Made Characters ($0.50)

6 products, totalling $6.10

End result: 44 products (including six core rulebooks) totalling $40.35

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CtL Kith and Kin art by Drew Tucker

We’re really thrilled that so many folks have said that due to this sale they’re going to try a different game line that they haven’t before. That’s just fantastic, and a very large reason that we’re running these monthly celebratory sales.

I mean, we didn’t have to.

And the sales themselves are so extreme, that it’s not like we’re rolling in the cash from this. It’s a celebration and a spreading of the love. So please, bear in mind the good intentions and the purpose of this from your end as well. If the next sale isn’t up immediately when you wake up on Sunday, try to be patient. There’s no reason to seethe or to insult our folks.

Did you know that there’s just one guy setting up the sales, and each book is put on sale by hand? There’s no universal button that just “makes it happen”, and they need to deal with multiple editions, and the second edition we had to fight for, new projects that we really can’t afford to drop prices on because they are so new, etc., so it just takes time.

Don’t worry, it’ll happen.

Which pretty much could have been our other motto, these:

TEN YEARS, MANY WORLDS, ONE PATH!


BLURBS!


KICKSTARTER/CROWDFUNDING!

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Trinity Continuum: Aether will go live on Kickstarter this Tuesday, July 19th, at 2pm EDT!

Sign up here to be notified when it goes live!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/trinity-continuum-aether-tabletop-roleplaying-game

For some of our previous backers, the indominable James sent out a small peek into what TC: Aether is about. And now you can see it as well!

Call it what it was: hubris, arrogance, a collective delusion of grandeur… We thought we were the only beings in this universe and that with our grand intellect and glorious empires we were the best humanity would ever be.

And then came Aether.

And along with Aether came mental expansion, form mutation, matter warping, time manipulation, and the discovery of new worlds, new peoples, new and terrifying possibilities.

And with Aether came the doom of humankind. Aether brought the Martians to our world, and the unravelling of the reality we knew.

Aether is a full rule and setting expansion for the Trinity Continuum line of games, set in the year 1895, at a time when humanity has conquered its own world, and now seeks to conquer the limitations imposed on us by the laws of all the sciences known to our kind. Inside, you will find:

  • A complete Victorian-era setting and Paths for characters to embark upon within it.
  • Aether powers allowing you to manipulate fate, space, time, and even your own bodies in wondrous and horrifying ways.
  • Societies both lawful and rogue, looking to leave their imprint on the world, from those in league with Mina Harker to those affiliated with Dr. Jekyll and Moriarty.
  • Storyguide advice, secrets, hooks, and plots, to enable you to start your game of Aether off with a bang.

Onyx Path Media!

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This week:

Eddy teaches Matthew and Dixie about Hunter: The Vigil Second Edition, and Matthew and Dixie make characters!

As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/


Onyx Path Media now has its own blog on Tuesdays! We’ll continue posting our highlight of the week here, but Tuesday will be the day to visit if you want to catch up on actual plays, interviews, deep dives, and other assorted Onyx Path media!

Please check out our attached media schedule for the impressive number of videos on our Twitch channel this week! In particular, keep those eyes open for our Storypath Showcase, where we give an excellent profile of our various Storypath games and how to play them!

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MEDIA HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK:

The OpCast have been wrapping their arms around the Trinity Continuum for a long time now, covering every aspect of the Continuum, with the most recent show dedicated to Aeon! Check it out here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/aeon-aexpansion/id1596951020?i=1000570022856

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The Onyx Path News goes live every single week to discuss recent and upcoming releases, dive into some of our most anticipated books, and answer questions from the audience. You can find it on our YouTube channel (click the bell to be informed when we go live!) but if you missed the last episode, here it is: https://youtu.be/tNZi-4O2kRg


Virtual Tabletop!

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The Scion: Origin Compendium is now available on Roll20!

https://marketplace.roll20.net/browse/compendiumexpansion/12522/scion-second-edition-book-one-origin

It’s native to Roll20, so not for use elsewhere, but perfect for starting your Roll20 Scion game – plus, the official Origin & Hero sheets are already available!

And the first of our official sheets designed for Roll20 are now available!

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The first of our official sheets designed for Foundry VTTis now available!

Direct Link: https://foundryvtt.com

As they say: “Foundry Virtual Tabletop is a self-hosted roleplaying platform with support for hundreds of game systems with modern features and a developer-friendly API. Foundry VTT is a one-time purchase where your players connect for free using a web browser.”

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More VTT offerings and projects will be arriving this year!

On DrivethruRPG, here is the main filter for all of our current VTT content:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/4261/Onyx-Path-Publishing?filters=0_0_0_45317_0

A few highlights of our platform agnostic DTRPG content:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/309127/Scarred-Lands-Creature-Collection-VTT-Token-Pack
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/317690/Trinity-Continuum-Hunt-for-the-Red-Widow-VTT
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/340327/Trinity-Continuum-Aeon-VTT-Tokens
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/311578/Scarred-Lands-VTT-Separation-Anxiety
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/311580/Scion-2e-VTT-Origin-Signature-Tokens
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/311579/Scion-2e-VTT-Hero-Signature-Tokens


Our Sales Partners!

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We’re working with Studio2 to provide our traditionally printed books out into your local game stores. Game stores can order via their usual distributors, and can also contact Studio2 directly. And individuals can check out our projects via the links below!

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Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books, dice, and screens? Try this link! http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Onyx-Path-Publishing/

Select CofD books & screens 50-75% off at IPR:
https://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Deals-and-Specials/

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As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles in PDF and PoD versions at DriveThruRPG.com!

The Chronicles of Darkness 90% off Onyx Path 10th Anniversary Celebration Sale runs all through June!

CofD Sale at DTRPG:

http://theonyxpath.com/opp10-chronicles-of-darkness-month-week-3-big-sales-on-all-the-beasties/

And right now is the legendary X-Mas in July Sale at DTRPG:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/4261/Onyx-Path-Publishing?filters=0_0_0_0_0_31815
https://www.drivethrufiction.com/xmas_in_july.php?manufacturers_id=4261&filters=0_0_0_0_0_44595

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Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble).

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Check out the Trinity Continuum: Aeon novellas Dawn and Meridian in the Kindle store!


On Sale This Week!

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The PDF/epub and PoD versions of the Terat novella for Trinity Continuum: Aberrant will go live Wednesday in PDF on DTRPG!


Conventions!

Because dates for physical conventions are subject to change due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, we don’t yet have a list of upcoming physical conventions. Instead, keep an eye out here for more virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with!

We’ll be doing panels for the online version of Gen Con for early August, and if you’re interested in running or playing our games there, they’ve recently released this link:

https://www.gencon.com/gen-con-online/hosting-events-eo-gmhttps://www.gencon.com/event_registrations/new

Here are the links to our panels:

https://www.gencon.com/events/217051 – What’s Up With Onyx Path?
https://www.gencon.com/events/217052 – Storypath System Q&A
https://www.gencon.com/events/217053 – Onyx Path 5E OGL Games

Tabletop Scotland is due to take place on 27th and 28th August 2022 and will play host to at least four Onyx Pathers running our games and sitting on panels live and there in the room with you! If you’re UK or Europe based, it’s an excellent con to visit and within traveling distance from Edinburgh, which takes flights from a lot of places! Consider paying Tabletop Scotland a visit. https://tabletopscotland.co.uk/


And now, the new project status updates!

Our full list of projects will be available monthly on our blog! Check out June’s full list report here: http://theonyxpath.com/release-roundup-june-2022/

DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM EDDY

Here are the projects that moved to the next stage of production:

Final Draft

TC: Aberrant – From the Shadows

  • Eddy: It’s a strong Aberrant week! The first of three books to move this week, this one covers all sorts of superhuman espionage and other shadowy characters.

Development

Hunter: The Vigil – Hunter Jumpstart

  • Dixie: Another step closer to completing this Kickstarter! I hope the adventure helps many Hunter games kick off in the future.

They Came from Camp Murder Lake! – VTT Adventure

  • Matthew: We’re whizzing through this adventure, as we prepare this very special funk-themed scenario for virtual tabletops! I feel good!

Manuscript Approval

Exalted – Sidereals

  • Dixie: The team flew through this one, and now it’s up to Paradox to get it moving again. I think all the 3e updates are fantastic, and can’t wait for Exalted fans to see the manuscript!

Editing

TC: Aberrant – With Great Power

  • Eddy: The second Aberrant book to move this week, this one covers Team Tomorrow and other superheroic teams.

TC Aberrant – Hated and Feared

  • Eddy: Our third Aberrant book with some progress, Hated and Feared is all about the Terat and other antiheroic groups.

Scion – No Gods, No Masters

  • Matthew: Now this adventure is fully formed, I’m happy to describe it as a true epic of Scion proportions. If you were missing Atlantis, keep your eyes open for NGNM!

TC: Anima – Anima: alt-AR Jumpstart

  • Eddy: Our second of two Anima jumpstarts, this one covers a mystery surrounding a missing person, and some missing memories.

Layout

Mage: The Ascension – M20 Forgotten and Forbidden Orders

  • Matthew: Obscure, weird, and secretive are three words I could use to describe myself. And Forgotten and Forbidden Orders! An excellent, in-depth follow-up to Lore of the Traditions.

ART DIRECTION FROM MIKE CHANEY!

In Art Direction

  • Exalted Essence – More sketches and color comps in

In Layout

  • SCION Masks of Mythos – Monster added artwork in and to layout – just need added pantheon art.

Proofing

  • TC Aeon Mission Statements – Missing art in… wrapping up the other business this week.

Indexing

At Press

  • Scion Demigod – Trad press files at printer.
  • Scion Demigod Screen – Press files at printer.
  • Squeaks in the Deep Screen – Press files at printer.
  • Squeaks in the Deep – Trad press files at printer.
  • Squeaks in the Deep Bookmarks – At KS shipper.
  • Hunter: The Vigil 2e Trad press files at printer.
  • HTV 2 Screen – Press files at printer.
  • Scarred Lands: Dead Man’s Rust – Trad press files at printer.
  • TC: Novas Worldwide – Backer PDF out to KS backers – errata-ing.
  • Trinity Continuum: Assassins – Awaiting errata input.
  • Down In The Hole – CRC Adventure – PoD proofs ordered.
  • Scion Players Guide: Saints and Monsters – Backer PDF out to KS backers – errata-ing.
  • TC: Aberrant: Terat Novella – PDF/ebook and PoD versions on sale this Weds on DTRPG.

Today’s Reason to Celebrate!

Tomorrow marks the 5 year anniversary of the release of the Dagger of Spiragos adventure for Scarred Lands! Five years, wow! For me, the release of the Spiragos trilogy is one of those twisted tales of how to get something published while maneuvering through the rights issues of who owns what. It started as the first project I thought I could accomplish on my own outside of White Wolf, before Onyx Path. It was, in fact, a necessary creative outlet during the time I was working on the exhausting and lamented WoD MMO project for CCP. I came up with the plots for all three adventures, and actually wrote a 4e (of the most famous tabletop RPG of all time) version of Gauntlet of Spiragos before I left the MMO and then CCP, 5e came out, I bought half of the rights to the Scarred Lands IP, teamed up with Stew Wieck to create the SL PG and we decided to concentrate on 5e, and ultimately wound up owning all of Scarred Lands after Stew died. Quite a lot there, and that’s the tip of the iceberg, just from a single project’s 5 year anniversary!

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