Planet Mercenary: Just 13 Days Left

If you want in on the Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game, the Kickstarter closes just 13 days from now, on the morning of Monday, May 18th. Be warned: For the next two weeks you'll probably hear from me a lot on this front. I owe it to the fans, and to my fellow creators to do all I can to drum up as much support for this as possible.

Whether or not you role-play, The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game will be the definitive encyclopedia for the Schlock Mercenary universe. It will painstakingly (and humorously) detail the interesting places and cool technologies I've cartoonishly rendered in the comic, and it will flesh out a few key characters of the comic, rendering them as if my comics were crude caricatures of real people. 

Of course, commissioning these pieces takes money, which is why we turned to Kickstarter. We'll be paying our artists up front, and doing our very best to treat them right. We commissioned a few pieces before the project launched in order to prove to ourselves that this would work, and we're now confident that the Planet Mercenary book is going to be a fully immersive look at this universe I've been struggling to render for fifteen years now.

Pictured to the left is Felipe de Barros' rendition of Captain Tagon. The deep-set eyes, the stiff spine, that brick-like face... it's all there. 

If you've ever wondered what an amorph would look like in real life, I have a secret: I've wondered that too. I'm excited to find out. I expect to be scared of Sergeant Schlock. He is, after all, a monster. 

As an added incentive to participate, if we raise another $18k in pledged support there will be two books produced. The second one will be Karl Tagon's personal, annotated hard-copy of the 3001CE edition of The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries. He loaned it around, and a couple of other people have written in it.

Galavant: Just Buy It Already

My oldest daughter came back from college and told me I needed to see something called "Galavant" on the television. We don't do cable in my house so I Youtubed some trailers, got hooked, and checked it out on Amazon Instant Video.

Galavant is a trope-ridden medieval fantasy comedy musical. How such a thing existed without me knowing about it without the help of my children reflects poorly on me.

If you enjoyed the musical episodes of Buffy and Community, if you sing along with Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, you should buy Season 1 of Galavant on one of the services where it's available (Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.) I bought the HD version on Amazon and have now watched the whole thing three times through. 

I'm not a fan of the streaming model, where I pay "own the whole thing" prices, but can't actually watch unless I have a persistent connection and a DRM-ish browser window. Galavant is good enough that I'm perfectly happy to tell myself that I paid $20 to rent it. I got 176 minutes of great programming. I've spent more than that for movies half that long, and no lie, if Galavant were a theatrical release I would rank it above everything I've seen so far this year, including The Avengers. In fact, I came home from The Avengers excited to hurry up and write a review so I could watch Galavant.

Seriously, when it comes out on Blu-Ray I'll probably buy it again. 

Am I gushing? Yes. I don't do this often. 

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Before I talk movie, a plug: The Planet Mercenary RPG Kickstarter is going strong, but is a couple hundred supporters shy of the big stretch we all want. 

I'm not going to convince you to see, or not see, Age of Ultron. I'm not going to spoil anything for you either. I'm just giving you three bullets:
  • I have a new favorite movie for 2015 (as of this writing.)
  • It earned its high and low points.
  • Marvel has successfully extended their line of credit with me through their next two cinematic releases, no matter what those releases are*.
If you're planning to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron you are in for a treat. Also, be warned that there are spoilers you definitely don't want, so don't delay, and until you see the film you should steer clear of reviews, comments threads, and inconsiderate people.
Once you've seen it, and you see that both Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman worked on the score, you may wish to pick up the soundtrack which is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play (it's 50 cents cheaper from Google and Amazon.) I'm listening to it as I write...
(*note: Ant Man and Captain America: Civil War. I checked. Not that it would have mattered.)
(cross-posted from

The Chainsaber, Mk V

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a bit of Ben McSweeney's preliminary line-art from the Planet Mercenary RPG weapon section:

Here's the draft text that goes along with it: 

[REDACTED] Autocutlery Chainsaber Mark IX

Most civilizations invented power cutting tools long after they dispensed with swords in favor of firearms, and most civilizations became briefly fascinated with those cutting tools as a way to bring the sword back. And for most civilizations it ended there.
Along came [REDACTED] Autocutlery with a bad idea to make good money: they would, with actionable deliberation and insufficient testing, weaponize the chainsaw. The result was the Chainsaber line of weapons, none of which is as effective, gram for gram, as a firearm. But the grunts want to swing chainsaws at things, and the Chainsaber Mark I took off plenty of enemy limbs and friendly fingers, so the product line and most of the customers survived, and eventually we got the Chainsaber Mark IX (The Mark V is pictured above.)
The Mark IX has numerous available grips, each of which is designed to maximize the leverage of the gripping limb while putting the weapon’s center of mass in just the right place for deft swinging. It is surprisingly light, and when fitted correctly is even more surprisingly difficult to kill oneself with. Maim? Still easy.
But let’s be honest with ourselves here. The only place the Mark IX chainsaber is deployed is with companies who want to make a lot of noise and throw a lot of gore in order to take the fight out of an ostensibly stronger opponent. When this works, bully! When this doesn’t work? You get the opposite of “bully,” and while a lot of words mean that, you should pick one which also means “we got cut to pieces with our own toys.” 
Would you like more pages of delicious material like this? Back the Planet Mercenary RPG on Kickstarter, and you'll have two hundred pages of this stuff, including illustrations, maps, deck plans, and yes, rules for bringing a chainsaber to a gunfight.
Alan and I are doing an AMA over at r/fantasy on Tuesday. If you've got questions about the game by all means ask them! And since it's an AMA (Ask Me Anything) you can ask other stuff, too! 

New Pins, Almost Certainly

We've stormed the center ground of the Planet Mercenary RPG Kickstarter, that calm patch in the middle when things slow down a bit. We're pretty close to the next stretch goal, at which point some company pins will be created for our favorite weapons manufacturers, including Strohl and Phubahr.

There may be a couple more as well. We have some other manufacturers whose logos are being locked down.

Jeff Zugale is currently working on the cover art while Alan and I pound on the core content of the book. It's amazing to see how much progress we've made in the last couple of weeks, and equally amazing to see how well some of these pieces are fitting together. 

Saturday's pounding involved smashing Photoshop into the Mayhem deck until it spat out another draft for the backs of the cards, shown to the left.

The Mayhem deck informs your role play by adding information to about 25% of your successful die rolls. There are cards like"Let Me Show You How It's Done," in which your action was so successful that nearby grunts or players gain permanent bonuses. These are offset by cards like "That's Coming Out Of Our Pay," in which your success was mitigated by collateral damage of some sort.

Then there are middle-ground sorts of cards like "Somebody Just Earned a Nick-Name," which will have players scrambling to turn recent events into a nick-name for the lucky person who rolled Mayhem this time around. 

How exactly these cards play into the story is up to you and the Game Chief. Testing has thus far shown that the general result is laughter, and it happens in-game, driving the session forward rather than derailing it. The Mayhem mechanic worked far better than I hoped, and I credit Alan for turning my hare-brained idea for dice-and-card blend into something so enjoyable.

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