Friday, August 28, 2015

Scarlet Heroes Homebrew: New Blademaster School, the Iron Hand

Scene from Shadow Skill Anime

Kevin Crawford of Sine Nomine Publishing has a free magazine called The Sandbox, where he displays miscellaneous gaming ideas and tools for fans of his work and other old-school games.  His latest issue contained a new class for Scarlet Heroes, the Blademaster.  Due to inter-connectivity, it can be adapted to other Basic D&D style retroclones.

What caught me off guard about the Blademaster was that it took some clear inspiration from 3rd Edition's Tome of Battle, which is best described as "Vancian casting for martials" without necessarily being magical (at least not most of the time).  Although the maneuver system spawned by the book is very popular, it has its fair share of critics who feel that its design principles run counter to their playing style.  Adapting it for an OSR fanbase would be a risky venture, but of all the designers out there to do it there are few better choices than Kevin Crawford.

The Blademaster is a scholar of war who can master the techniques of various fighting Schools.  They learn special abilities known as Arts, some of which are constant in duration, others can be used once per battle (or once with a 15 minute cooldown period outside of battle), and some can only be used once per day.  Like spells they are graded by level, with certain arts only capable of being learned by higher-level Blademasters.

Arts are like spells, Schools are like, well, schools of magic.  There are many sample Arts and two Schools provided, but Crawford provides guidelines for Game Masters wishing to adapt and create their own Blademaster techniques for their home setting.

It goes without saying that I'm a big fan of Tome of Battle and Sine Nomine Publishing, so this motivated me to come up with some Schools and Arts of my own which I'll be displaying as part of a series.  Many of them take inspiration and in some cases convert game mechanics from existing material.  In the case of the Iron Hand, I went with a fighting style which relies on fighting unarmed and with improvised weapons in cases where a full armament is not an option.  I took ideas from Path of War and Tome of Battle, such as the Broken Blade school for unarmed fighting, Solar Wind and Thrashing Dragon for thrown weapons, and the Crusader and Warder classes for shrugging off physical punishment.

School of the Iron Hand

Not all warriors can afford to own and train with proper weapons.  Many of them use their own hands or make do with common farming instruments.  Blademasters initiated into this school learn to look upon the environment around them and their own bodies to defeat their enemies in lieu of common arms and armor.

In modern times the Iron Hand is favored among ascetic monks, bare-knuckle brawlers, and peasant rebels.

Mysteries of the Iron Hand

Students of the Iron Hand are more than capable of fighting with no weapons at all.  They deal either 1d6 points of damage or their base weapon damage with unarmed attacks and common farming tools (whichever is greater), and they do 1d4 points of damage or the base weapon damage (whichever is greater) with improvised throwing weapons such as rocks and sewing needles.

Adepts of the Iron Hand learn to harness their bodies and minimize environmental harm.  They ignore the first 10 feet of falling damage per Blademaster level and land on their feet if they do not take any damage at all.

Masters of the Iron Hand are intimately familiar with the vital flow of life and animating forces that hold physical shells together.  Once per day they can touch a target resolved as a melee attack.  If the touch hits and the target fails a saving throw, they die or become inanimate depending on the nature of said target.

Arts of the Iron Hand

Level One

Fighting Dirty
Action  Once Per Day

The blademaster delivers a sharp blow to an opponent's weak spots, causing the opponent to be unable to do anything on their next action due to the staggering pain.

Guided Hand
Instant  Constant

The blademaster feels the wind upon the air and the dynamic properties of the objects they wield in their hands.  They may increase the range of thrown missile weapons such as darts and javelins by 30 feet.

Parrying Counter
Instant  Constant

The blademaster learns to use his own hands to parry blows, granting him the AC benefits of wielding a shield as long as he has one free hand.

Rapid Assault
Action  Once Per Fight

The blademaster makes two rapid strikes against his opponent, resolving this art as two attacks which can be made against one or two targets within reach of his melee attack.

Level Two

Disorienting Blow
Instant  Once Per Day

The blademaster knows that an opponent who loses their sight or hearing is greatly weakened.  Upon a successful melee attack, the blademaster can blind or deafen an opponent for 1 minute.

Ricochet Strike
Action  Once Per Fight

The blademaster can fling a thrown weapon in such a way that it rebounds off of surfaces and opponents, striking up to two targets within the first range increment and returning to the blademaster's hand at the end of the attack.  The attack roll is resolved only once and compared separately, dealing 2d6 points of bonus damage to each target.  This art can be used to strike out of sight opponents provided the blademaster can accurately pinpoint their location.

Instant  Once Per Fight

If a target fails to hit the blademaster in melee, the blademaster can grab their opponent and hurl them through the air.  This inflicts the blademaster's normal unarmed strike damage and moves their opponent up to 10 feet away in a direction of their choice.

Instant Constant

Through punishing trials and focusing their energies, the blademaster's limbs become superhumanly tough.  They can deal damage to opponents who would otherwise normally be immune to physical attacks due to material properties, such as a werewolf and silver or a golem and magic weapons.  They can also bend iron bars or punch a hole through three feet of solid stone, but cannot affect material harder or thicker than this.

Level 3

Adamantine Kick
Instant Once Per Fight

As part of a successful melee attack, the blademaster deals an additional 3d6 points of damage.

Earth Lift
Action Once Per Day

Through sheer strength the blademaster picks up an incredibly heavy object, sometimes even the very ground under him, and darkens the sky with a frightening throw.  The blademaster may make a thrown attack with a 20 foot range and a 10 to 30 foot radius (depending on the relative size of said object).  Any opponents within this radius take 1d6 damage per blademaster level on a failed saving throw, half damage (round down) on a successful save.

The attack need not be a single object; it can be a flurry of furniture, boulders, and the like, but its mechanical effects remain the same.

Instant Once Per Day

The blademaster is capable of pushing their body past its natural limit for punishment.  Should a blademaster be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points, they can still move and act for a number of rounds equal to their blademaster level before they succumb.  Any further damage during this time is negated, but the blademaster must receive healing before this art's duration ends should they wish to avoid death's embrace.

Flowing Grace
Instant Constant

The blademaster hones their body to move across their environment with sublime dexterity, unhindered by the chaos of battle.  The blademaster's base movement speed doubles, and they can move across water, fragile tree branches, and other surfaces normally too weak to hold their weight.  They cannot use this ability to walk on gaseous or insubstantial terrain.

Level Four

Body of Iron
Instant Constant

Enduring things even veteran warriors never experienced, the blademaster is a living armor of sheer will.  They are treated as wearing plate mail (or the retro-clone's best equivalent armor) for the purposes of Armor Class while suffering none of the negative effects.  They can also reroll any failed saving throw, but must abide by the result of the reroll even if it's worse than the original roll.

Hurricane Kick
Action Once Per Day

With a singular rapid spin, the blademaster creates a cyclone 30 feet in radius.  Any target within the area takes 1d6 points of damage per blademaster level, and the blademaster can place the opponents anywhere within the radius upon resolution of the attack.  This last part represents the battering winds tossing people about the place, and targets cannot end up in the same space as part of this art.

Lingering Wound
Action Once Per Day

Upon resolution of a successful attack, the blademaster can deal significant internal injury to an opponent.  The opponent suffers 4d6 points of damage the following round, and another 4d6 the round after that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Adventure Ideas Wish List

Torch of the Burning Sky by Claudio Pozas

I realize that I haven't blogged in nearly 3 weeks, and one of my ideas is taking more work than I realized, so I decided to follow up with something nice and quick.

Maybe it's a published adventure.  Maybe it's a pitched campaign concept, but your regular gaming group's not biting.  Maybe you're one of those idea guys, who has all sorts of neat creations yet little time to play them all.  This is such a post, a wish list of adventures and campaigns I'd like to try out one of these days.  It's unlikely that I'll try any of them soon, especially the more long-term ones, but a guy can dream.

Below are the major campaign ideas, both original and published, I want to try out one day.  What adventures are on your wish list?  Feel free to share!

1. X-Crawl Road Trip: The PCs are an internationally famous crew of gladiators in the Roman Empire's most popular reality television contest. Their next destination is a dungeon-crawl in Lawrence, Kansas, and they travel in a luxury entourage of limousines and summoned mounts. Unfortunately their magically-powered transportation runs out of gas smack-dab on a highway somewhere in Middle America. Celebrity status can only get them so far, and they need to get to Lawrence within 72 hours or else their position is forfeit! Do they go monster-hunting to raise gas money, hitch-hike with a bus full of demon-worshiping metalheads, or steal their rival crawlers' truck golem when they stop at the local bar and grill?

Yes, I'm partially inspired by Final Fantasy XV for this.

2. Red Dragon Inn: I actually played 2 sessions of this before, but I'd like to run it again someday. Basically I utilize the rules from Red Dragon Inn: Guide to Inns & Taverns. The PCs inherit an inn which has a statue dedicating to a goddess of hearth and home in the basement. Satisfied customers generate energy of positive feeling, which the statue can then convert into magical items and other things PCs enjoy. Meanwhile the surrounding lands contain room for adventure, such as a fabled magical icebox which can preserve perishable food for weeks. There are also potentially interesting encounters, such as a 1st-level destined hero who stops at the inn...while the demon lord's agents tasked with her destruction are also staying there!

3. Slay la Slay: A Tome of Battle/Path of War-centric game where the PCs are students at a fabled Battle Academy, disciples of a monk's monastery, or some other environment heavily inspired by shounen/seinen fighting anime. And yes, it's expected that people will shout out the names of their maneuvers in combat.

Will include a cloud/storm giant with a size-changing ring in charge of student discipline.

4. Sword of Levity: Published Adventure.  A campaign utilizing the Sword of Air sandbox adventure by Frog God Games, only this plays up some of the more whimsical and sillier elements.

5. Way of the Wicked: Published Adventure.  The PCs are a fifth columnist cell of devil-worshipers plotting to overthrow the holy and virtuous nation of Talingarde.  They will engage in all manner of dastardly plots such as outfitting a dungeon to guard against pesky adventurers, sabotage a border fortress so that a monstrous horde can break through into the heartland, and even form their own evil organization!

6. Zeitgeist: the Gears of Revolution: Published Adventure.  Set in a pseudo-Victorian nation of Risur experiencing an industrial revolution of technomagic, the PCs are royal agents tasked with stopping threats to king and country.  Urban investigation and conspiracies amid a steampunk backdrop.

7. Rappan Athuk Charity Crawl: Published Adventure.  The name of the game is to see how far the players can get in this megadungeon without dying horribly.  Dead PCs are replaced with new ones, so even a TPK is not the end of the campaign.

Inspired by Final Fantasy's Four Job Fiesta charity, turning it into a charity even via livestream can be a cool idea.  Pledging to donate $1 for every dead PC, $10 for every dungeon level cleared, or something to that effect.

8. War of the Burning Sky: Published Adventure.  A mighty empire's ruler is killed, and civil war sweeps over this fantasy world of high magic as twelve would-be conquerors bring chaos and bloodshed to the realms. The PCs join a resistance movement to bring freedom and vanquish Evil from the oppressed realms!

9. The Dragonlance Chronicles: Published Adventure.  Naturally I'll alter the adventure in many ways to update it to modern standards, but its prominent status, as well as being the ur-adventure path, have an appeal to me.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

African Fantasy Artwork

Artist Unknown.  If anyone knows, please tell me via PM or the comment section

If you're a long-time reader of my blog, chances are you saw a Magic School Campaign post for Spears of the Dawn.  I am a big fan of Kevin Crawford's work, and his fantasy Africa setting is one of the retroclones I am most eager to try out at some point in gaming.  Even though I haven't found any grabbers yet, this did not keep me from gathering potential material.  Beyond maps and adventure writing, I often find that artwork is another great inspirational source.

Aside from this game and Nyambe, African fantasy in regards to the tabletop scene has been very sparse, and this extends to artwork as well.  I spent a good amount of time looking for pictures which might be appropriate for such a campaign, and ended up with 138 images.  So right here I'd like to share my findings in an Imgur album link.  I hope that people find it a useful resource, whether they're old-school or modern D&D, or using homebrew or published settings.

I'd like to note that the artwork for Spears of the Dawn is available for free on DriveThruRPG for further material.  I showcased a lot of it in my review of the RPG in this thread on GiantITP.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Whimsical Flair of Frog God Games (Adventure Spoilers Ahoy!)

Rappan Athuk, Slumbering Tsar, and Tome of Horrors on display at Gen Con

As I mentioned before in a previous post, there's a third party publisher by the name of Frog God Games known for bringing an old school flair to more modern editions and Pathfinder.  Their best known works are highly acclaimed, yet hover outside my normal price range when it comes to sourcebooks.  For my birthday I requested several of their best known works as wish list presents, and now I own some of the company's best work.

The sheer length of such books means that I'm far from completing even one of them, but I skimmed through them as I'm wont to do.  Even early on in my reading I spotted several amusing things which one wouldn't ordinarily find in most gaming sourcebooks.  Although far from a satire, I get a carefree feeling from the writers, that sprinkling little bits here and there into a game to lighten the mood can do wonders for differentiating their adventures from all the others lining the shelves.

I am far from complete in my search, but as I read my new tomes (Rappan Athuk, Razor Coast, Slumbering Tsar Saga, & Sword of Air) I'll be keeping a list of such tidbits, both here and on the Paizo thread.  In case you can't tell, I'm reading Sword of Air right now! :)

Rappan Athuk

Here Lies drnate29, 762-813: The dungeon entrance proper has a large graveyard preceding it, many of them rather new. There's a one-page listing of obituaries bearing the names of players, backers and play-testers, including more than a few titles which can only be Internet handles.

Banana of Holding: The Banana of Holding is one of several new magic items, which can be found as randomly-generated treasure in an underground jungle temple. It is much like its bag counterpart, except slippery when on the ground.

16 Trolls, 1 Jug: One of the encounter rooms is titled 16 Trolls and a Jug of Alchemy. The encounter is pretty much a horde of trolls with a buried Jug of Alchemy as one of the treasures. This very encounter is referenced in the introduction about the old days of whimsical dungeon design, when a dungeon's ecology didn't need to make sense.

2,000th time's the charm: the final and most dangerous level of Rappan Athuk, the sanctum of Orcus himself, has never been reached in 25 years of GMing and playtesting.

Razor Coast

Nothing yet!

Slumbering Tsar

There's a party in Orcus' pants and everyone's invited: The Hidden Citadel dungeon is a giant statue in the shape of the demon lord of death, with named portions separated by body parts. The Lap of Orcus had a financial and entertainment district, including many taverns and an S&M club among other things.

Sword of Air

"I can be the monkey, but you have to drive the train:" the first picture in the book is a monkey on a runaway train, accompanied by a little essay on player agency vs. railroading. I like where this is going.

Joe Platemail: Various FGG books made references to Joe Platemail, usually as an example of how heavy armor might be a liability in certain environments. Turns out that Joe was a real PC in the author's old group games. He was an extraordinarily lucky Fighter with abysmally low mental ability scores. He survived where many others failed by the luck of the dice, but finally met an ignoble end of the hands of his own armor, drowning to death as he found himself unable to swim in heavy metal.

On page 47 of Sword of Air, Joe Platemail III has Pathfinder stats. He's a 20th level Fighter with an 18 in Str/Dex/Con and 3 in Int/Wis/Cha. The text points out that the GM is encouraged to make his legendary luck an actual thing, in that deadly attacks and traps always seem to affect people near him instead of the man himself.

Hillbilly Dragons: On page 53 detailing the wilderness environs, there are two rival families of dragons, the Hatfields (green) and McCoys (blue), trying to claim territorial dominance.

Ewww! On page 60 under random encounters for the Barrier Hills, entry 74-76 on the dice is "something yucky from the Southern Wasteland."

Cuddly and Deadly: The Stoneheart Valley is notable in that the genuine monsters of the world are mostly in dungeons and strange places, and not typical wilderness areas. Due to that, the most common random encounters tend to be mundane animals and humanoids. There are game stats provided for "Fuzzy Forest Creatures" such as deer, rabbits, and squirrels, while the "Still Fuzzy Forest Creatures, but Predatory" includes lions, badgers, bears, and wolves.

That ain't Yogi Bear's Friend: a roving warband of Orcus on pages 62-64 are a vile assortment of folk said to be kicked out of Rappan Athuk for being too Chaotic and Evil. One of the villains among their number is Boo Boo the Ettin, an otherwise normal member of his species.

Tastes great at 0 hp: On page 67 there is an entry for giant catfish:

This encounter is with 1d4 giant catfish. As always the creatures are hungry, lazy, and delicious if deep fried in a skillet with some cornmeal and served with some hot sauce.

Halfling Master Race: On page 69 there's an encounter location with a giant egg-shaped obelisk with an ancient language detailing the creation of the common races. Humans from clay, elves from grass, etc, yet no mention of halflings. There's some graffiti written in Halfling claiming that said race was made from the best parts of all the others.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Sad, Sad Tale of Fire Mountain Games

Throne of Night promotional piece by Michael Clarke

Edit: Regarding print-on-demand options for Throne of Night on Drive-Thru RPG and RPGNow, I do not have any cited sources on this at the moment.  There is however, a print-on-demand option for Way of the Wicked Book Seven as of this posting, was offered as a presale via KickStarter as a stretch goal.

I do recall such an option existing at one point, but as of now I want to use claims backed up by links, quotes, and statements by companies concerning Throne of Night.

Even the stamp of a well-respected name is not enough to prevent a KickStarter scandal.  The creator of Mega Man is currently in hot water over his Red Ash project, whereas three years ago one of the most respected voices in the OSR lost virtually all the goodwill he had in the community over the Dwimmermount fiasco.

The Pathfinder community is no exception to this, although the major one in this fandom is not talked about as much in comparison to Dwimmermount or other failed RPG projects.  For that reason I'm making this blog post in the hopes of spreading awareness.

Let's start from the beginning

Fire Mountain Games is a third party publisher which received a lot of praise for its work, specifically the Way of the Wicked Adventure Path.  The basic idea is that the PCs are the bad guys for a change, working for the glory of Asmodeus and plotting to overthrow the Lawful Good nation of Talingarde.  The six-part series has many novel features: in Book Two the PCs maintain theirs own dungeon to guard against adventurers and do-gooders; a reverse dungeon crawl, if you will. In Book Three, there's an assault on a holy mountain temple which pit the PCs against celestials who otherwise are not typical monster encounters.  The Book Six finale even has a nation-building scenario where the party takes over Talingarde.  Way of the Wicked was also noted for its high quality in spite of only having one writer: it's no secret that Pathfinder's system breaks down horribly at higher levels, and many adventure paths don't go to 20th level anymore.  But Way of the Wicked managed to remain fun for many players to the very end.

Fire Mountain Games was a newcomer to self-publishing, beginning around late 2011.  It was a two-man operation, with Gary McBride as the business owner, writer, and handler of all non-art material, and Michael Clarke who illustrated many beautiful pieces for the books.  McBride was an active member of the community, interacting with folks on message boards and even writing articles for fan magazines such as Wayfinder.  By 2012 Way of the Wicked was nearly done, and McBride announced on the Paizo boards his next big project: Throne of Night.  It was intended to be a six-part adventure path, an underground sandbox where the PCs are either dwarven explorers or drow conquerors building territory and accumulating resources in pursuit of building a grand subterranean civilization.

Fire Mountain Games managed to release a new installment of Way of the Wicked every 6 to 8 weeks.  Although Paizo adventure paths were of similar length and released in monthly installments, McBride was a one-man writer.  In early 2013 Pathfinder's only evil adventure path at the time came to a satisfying conclusion with Book Six: the Wages of Sin.

Fire Mountain Games was in an enviable position among third party publishers.  McBride's work became a household name among Pathfinder players in less than a year and with just a couple books to his name.  Even other respected companies such as Dreamscarred Press didn't get to this level of acclaim without years worth of work and dozens of sourcebooks under their belt.  When the Throne of Night Kickstarter page came up, it surpassed its funding by leaps and bounds with $40,640 from 314 backers.

It all goes downhill from here

A lot of the conversation among backers can be found in this Paizo thread and in the comments section of the KickStarter page.  But the abridged version of events is that this turned into one of the worst communications between project-maker and backers.  Going by the updates list, McBride remained active and communicative all the way up to the funding deadline on May 7th, 2013.  The backer levels included PDF and physical copies of the Throne of Night series, as well as similar options for Way of the Wicked.  The estimated release date for Book One of Throne of Night was May 2013, with a new book coming out every two months according to the backer rewards.  The project's estimated time of completion was March 2014.

There were delays.  Not surprising, considering that as far as we know McBride is doing everything but the artwork himself.  But it was the lack of communication, along with backers not getting promised physical books, which began to turn people against Fire Mountain Games.  June, July, and August saw monthly updates and explanations that work on Book One is still being done.  It finally comes October, 2013.

Better late than never, some might say.  But the problem is that now there's a PDF and eventually print-on-demand options, which should mean that backers who pledged enough money to receive said copies should be getting one as soon as they become available according to the $120 backer pledge.  They did get their PDF copies, although the physical rewards are another story.

Fire Mountain Games also had a Creature Cards KickStarter set up before Throne of Night, and that too is riddled with its own problems of missed communication.  However, unlike Throne of Night it appears in the backer comments that more than a few folks received cards in the mail.  Some were satisfied, others remarked on the low printing quality of the cards.  According to the timeline the Creature Cards funded around November 2012, meaning that McBride launched the Throne of Night KickStarter almost as soon as his oldest one funded.

In another example of multi-tasking, Fire Mountain Games was making sheets for Ogre Nightfall, a table-top game headed by Steve Jackson Games.  The Nightfall sheets (which were FMG's responsibility) were not shipped out according to this thread.  In another Board Game Geek thread, Fire Mountain Games said that they'd ship them around May 2014, yet that never came to pass.

In early 2015 on the Ogre KickStarter page Steve Jackson Games picked up the pieces and shipped out Nightfall sheets to the backers who pledged for them.  The Nightfall fiasco was bad enough that Fire Mountain Games was added to Board Game Geek's wall of shame of companies known for delays, scams, and other troubling behaviors.

There is progress...of a sort

The Paizo thread, Throne of Night's KickStarter page, and Board Game Geek threads, all contain a running theme of any and all attempted communications to Fire Mountain Games not receiving any response.  Sometimes the KickStarter page updates are separated by months at a time, such as the dead silence from September 2013 to March 2014.

Naturally there's a lot of anger as well as speculation, in a few cases developing into threats of violence on the Paizo thread which resulted in bans and temporary thread locks.  Perhaps the most aggravating thing is that the KickStarter pages make apologies for lack of updates, that "it's been too long" with no explanation for said delays but he's hard at work, giving dates which end up getting missed and delayed time and time again.

The weird thing is that McBride has been active on KickStarter still, and as of this posting he last logged on July 24th, 2015.  Book Two of Throne of Night was released around April 2014, and the promised Book 7 of Way of the Wicked as a Throne of Night stretch goal was released in July of that same year.  He even funded and backed other KickStarter projects such as Grimtooth's Ultimate Traps during the normal radio silence, so he didn't drop off the face of the Internet.

The Throne of Night books were being sold on Drive-Thru RPG, RPGNow, and Paizo, with print-on-demand options in the former two stores.  Which brings us to another sticking point among backers: promised physical copies were not shipped to them, yet here they were for sale online.  Several days ago the Throne of Night books reverted to PDF-only purchase options.

The updates on the Throne of Night KickStarter page become more sporadic around 2014.  The majority of them focus around showing off new art, with no answers about shipping or progress reports on the Throne of Night adventures themselves.  August 2014 update promised a release for Book 3 around that year's December; here it is August 3rd, 2015 and still only 2 books are out.

One of the backers, Kevin_Video, said that he got into contact with the artist for the project, Michael Clarke, to discuss things.  Kevin posted the responses Clarke gave in the Paizo thread in these two posts:  First link.  Second link.

By July 2015, information was finally released on shipping.  McBride says he plans on finishing the remaining books, then printing out the physical copies to be all mailed off together.  This time there's no planned release dates, either for shipping or Books 3 through 6.

A compilation of problems

A long overdue estimated release date.  Lack of communication with backers and the vast majority of updates being artwork-related.  Selling the print-on-demand products online while not giving out the promised copies to backers.

The sad part about this is that Fire Mountain Games made an awesome track record with their books.  I purchased 2 of the released Throne of Night books and WotW Book 7; I can tell that McBride is still capable of putting together a well-crafted adventure.  But so much of this goodwill is squandered now, and a lot of his products are getting 1 star reviews of people pointing poor communication as well as accusing him of theft and fraud.

It is even more sad because I see this as a recurring theme among people who developed a sterling reputation in gamer communities, only to squander it all on a poorly-run KickStarter.  It is due to this why I've never backed crowdfunded projects myself in spite of all the good stories I hear.  Regardless of the reasons and circumstances behind Throne of Night, my best hope is that things work out and backers get what they're due.

A Handy-Dandy Collection of Links