Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In Which The Warlock Officially Announces...

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2012

Blackfall Press, LLC Announces Tabletop RPG Kickstarter: Cold Steel Wardens: Roleplaying in the Iron Age of Comics
Cover Design for Cold Steel Wardens
(Courtesy of Julia "Kit" Mowry)

[Englewood, OH] Blackfall Press, LLC is pleased to announce the opening of a Kickstarter to finance publication of their first tabletop roleplaying game, Cold Steel Wardens: Roleplaying in the Iron Age of Comics. Utilizing the new “MAFIANAP” mechanics, Cold Steel Wardens players take on the roles of masked vigilantes taking back their city from the vicious gangs, metahumans and other criminals infesting the streets. 

Cold Steel Wardens emulates the Iron Age of Comics: an era of comics writing from roughly 1979-1996 made famous by works such as Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Dennis O’Neil’s seminal run on The Question, and countless other masterworks. In Cold Steel Wardens, heroes not only have to contend with the scum of the streets, but also the intense moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding vigilantism, personal rights, and justice. 

“What sets Cold Steel Wardens apart is its focus,” said A.P. Klosky, president of Blackfall Press, LLC and creator of the game, “Cold Steel Wardens is built around slow-burning investigations, brutal combat, and difficult moral quandaries. It’s a game meant to challenge players just as much as their characters.” This is Klosky’s first solo foray into designing a full roleplaying game, having worked as a freelance designer and editor for Cubicle 7 Entertainment, GameWick Games, and Gun Metal Games in the past. Provided that the Kickstarter drive is successful, 

Cold Steel Wardens: Roleplaying in the Iron Age of Comics is slated for a Summer 2013 release in both PDF and print. A follow up volume—Cold Steel Wardens: Rogues’ Gallery—is already in the planning stages. 

The Kickstarter itself is available at and runs from November 30th to January 1. For more information on Blackfall Press or Cold Steel Wardens, contact A.P. Klosky at apklosky AT or visit our Facebook page at

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In Which The Warlock Creates a Comics Conception...

In designing Cold Steel Wardens, my original intent has always been to emulate the Iron Age of Comics.  Heck, it's in the name of the game!  I wanted to build a game that focused on the investigative aspects of being a masked vigilante, on the moral dilemmas faced with putting on a mask, and on the brutality of street-level combat.

But, how would I know if I had accomplished my goals?  How could I determine whether these aims were successful?

I spent yesterday evening writing up a series of pre-generated characters for my upcoming session of CSW this weekend, as part of the Wittenberg RP-Guild one-shots.  While I started with two of the characters that originally inspired the game--the PlatinumChick's gunslinger, CheapShot, and DigitalKat's psionic paralegal, Scheherazade--I quickly had to come up with some archetypal Iron Age characters of my own.

Gender-swap good ol' Nightwing
and you've got a brand new Hero!
So where did I turn?  Right back to the source material, of course.  Within a few hours, I had recreated a female version of Nightwing, struggling to escape the shadow of her overbearing mentor, a Rorschach-ian private detective, and something of a mash-up between John Constantine and Kitty Pride, among others. What better way to measure the success of my ability to emulate the Iron Age than to rebuild some of the era's classic characters in my brand new system?!

And, truly, I was astounded at the result.  After each character was finished, I passed off the character sheet to the PlatinumChick, who simply smiled and nodded.  As I finally put the finishing touches on the last of the characters, I asked her "Which one are you planning on playing?" fully believing that she was going to gravitate towards her old character.  I was surprised, however, to hear her say that she was more interested in Sawbones--the aforementioned Shadowcat/Hellblazer mash-up.

It's then that I knew--I had knocked it out of the park.  And it's now time to take things to the next level.

Presenting:  the new home for Blackfall Press, LLC--our official Facebook page!
Like us on our page to receive all the latest news regarding Cold Steel Wardens, The Pendulum Method, and all of our other publishing efforts!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

In Which the Warlock Pencils a Potential Plotline...

It's been a while since I've jumped in on the RPG Blog Carnival, but this month's entry gave me some special impetus:  it's being hosted by Lindevi, over at!

In light of NaNoWriMo and the concurrent-running NaGaDeMon, DigitalKat posits the following question:

So what about you, RPG Bloggers?  Why do you write about games?  In what form does your writing crop up in your campaigns?  What's your process, your stumbling blocks, your passion?  How has writing helped you or your table?  Or is writing more like a CR 8 Succubus whose torturous siren song hurts so good and dominates your very being?

Writing is part and parcel of my gaming 'process', as you probably could imagine.  Between my work on Cold Steel Wardens and the various convention games I've run over the years, it's been my continual effort to provide a series of adventures and materials to serve as my role-playing "legacy".  While doing so can sometimes be tedious--writing up stat blocks is a particular bugaboo of mine--there are quite a few tasks that I particularly relish.

One of my favorites is the "character vignette".  Usually stemming from an NPC's contact with given PC, these vignettes flesh out the world at large by speaking within a character's voice.

Case in point:  my "Tear of Ioun" campaign from a few years back.  Chris II's character, Martook, came in a veteran of Blackfall's most elite guard, tasked with the unenviable task of securing and destroying evil artifacts.  Chris depicted Martook as a grizzled veteran and family man, on his last mission before retirement from the force.

However, when the group's mission went afoul and the PCs were accused of a series of murders which touched off a small-scale war, Martook and his compatriots had to flee to another plane.  Upon their return to the Prime Material, Martook received the following from his wife:

Dearest Martook— 
I don’t really know how to say this.  I’m going to do my best to not cry as I’m writing this, but I can feel myself already welling up. 
When you told me that you were being recruited to work in The Vaults, I didn't want you to go.  We had just started to raise our family.  We were only married two years when you started there, and Maximilian was only six months old.  But, I let you go, knowing you’d come back to me.  
When you were promoted to Field Agent, and you were sent to find these…things…I didn't protest.  That was last year, and Maria was just a bulge in my belly.   I let you go again, and I knew that you would come back to me. 
When you left to look for this Tear of Ioun, I didn't object.  Maria had just been born, and I was getting back on my feet.  Little Max was only 5, but he was helping around the house as much as he could.  The neighbors helped out, too.  I let you go one more time, knowing you’d come back to me. 
And now?  I have Cathedral Agents at my door, telling me that you’re wanted for murder and treason.  I have Max asking me if Daddy is ever coming back, now that the King’s Men are waiting for him.  He asks me, “Mom, what did Daddy do wrong?  Why does the King hate him so much?”  I don’t have an answer for him.  Little Maria barely knows you.  She’s three now, and caught Gray Fever last winter.  She wheezes at night still, but the clerics of Erathis are confident she’ll recover sooner or later.  
I've been waiting for you most of my adult life.  We've been taken care of, thanks to the Cathedral, but that doesn't mean that we have everything we've ever wanted.  The kids want a father.  I can’t say I blame them.  I want a husband again. 
But now, with you being hunted…I just can’t wait anymore.  There’s been someone else, Martook.  You know him—Dengild Oathhammer, from across the street.  He helped fix our roof about a year ago, after a snowstorm and I asked him to stay for supper and then one thing led to the next and… 
I told myself I wouldn’t cry. 
I can’t even tell you what I want right now.  I've stopped things with Dengild, but my children—our children—need a father, and I need my husband.  I just can’t manage to let you go, the one time where it might matter. 
The kids and I are about to leave Blackfall for a while.  We’re going downriver, to a cottage my parents had east of Kasserine.  I gave this to the priestess Valandor, at the Cathedral, and she promised that she would get it to you.  I’m not sure how, because they say that Wellspring, the town you were at, is in ruins.  I hope it gets to you.  You deserve to know, at least. 
I’m sorry, Martook.  I really am.  Please forgive me. 
Obviously--just take a look at my picture up yonder!--I'm no scorned woman, much less one with two children to take care of and an illicit relationship with her next-door neighbor.  But, being able to write as such a character allows me three primary benefits.

Firstly, it allows me, as a GM, to immerse myself in my own world.  Did I know about Kasserine or any of the other characters in this letter, prior to writing it?  Absolutely not!  But, by including them, I can help flesh out my own world, building in people, places, and ideas that normally would never make an appearance.

Secondly, this provides me an opportunity to directly address a PC's background.  When our group was galavanting through the Shadowfell, it became hard to justify any expansion on Martook's relationship.  But, by including this vignette upon their return, I've not only shown that time has passed (in the fact that Martook's wife has moved on) and hooks him with a personalized side-quest:  make it back to Kasserine to make things right with his wife.

Finally, this allows my player, Chris II, the opportunity to expose the other players to Martook's own personality.  While we can see Martook's personality in the context of the group, there are aspects to his personality which would only emerge when in the presence of his personal friends and family.  Our identity, many philosophers have claimed, is mutable over time--who we are varies based on the course of our lives, the experiences we've had, and the memories we retain.  As such, our group experienced a side of Martook that they might never see otherwise...

While I don't use the character vignette often--maybe once or twice a campaign per character--it provides ample opportunities for both myself as a GM and as a player.  Plus, since it usually takes up less than a page, it's quick!  Try it!  You'll like it!