7/13/2018 - |
Order of the Stick |
by Amber E. Scott|
by Amber E. Scott
by Amber E. Scott
by Rich Burlew|
by Rich Burlew
by Rich Burlew
On Wednesday, Project Wonderful, our longtime ad provider for the forums, shut down once and for all. We found out this was coming last month, so we had some warning, but it's not a stretch to say this was still a surprise. This site has never been entirely dependent on advertising revenue—in fact, we've never put paid ads on the actual comic page, just the forum—but it has still come to be a significant portion of our monthly income. In particular, the income we got from it was much steadier than the money from product sales, which tends to ebb and flow depending on whether I've published anything new recently. So it will be missed, and we've had a few conversations on ways to replace it. One thing we probably won't be doing, though, is using a different advertising service. The reason we went with Project Wonderful for so long is that it avoided all of the awful features you think of when you think "website ads." No tracking, no pop-ups, no autoplaying video. As of yet, I haven't found a service that can guarantee not to screw with the site experience everyone has come to expect (horribly dated as it is) from Giant in the Playground. Whatever we do, it won't be that.
Also, special shout-out to Alea Tools, a company that makes tracking doodads for your tabletop games, for being our top advertiser over the years that we were with Project Wonderful. If you have an urge to support a company that's supported us, you could do worse than to take a look at their stuff.
The other thing that happened this week is that the proofs for the new book, Good Deeds Gone Unpunished, arrived at GITP World Headquarters (i.e. my living room). Approving those was the last step that I have any direct hand in, so it's up to the printers and distributors now. We're looking pretty good on the schedule, too; I don't see any reason it won't be available at Ookoodook's GenCon booth as planned. Worst case scenario, we overnight ship a few boxes to cover those of you who pre-ordered it to pick up at the convention. But I fully expect that they'll have enough on the table for anyone who wants to buy it on the spot.
The next Order of the Stick book is coming, and this time, it's all about Azure City. The Order of the Stick: Good Deeds Gone Unpunished is a collection of five original not-available-online stories about your favorite heroes from the South, including How the Paladin Got His Scar, the prequel tale about O-Chul that helped launch our Kickstarter back in 2012, and Spoiler Alert, a story about Therkla's day off that was requested by one of the high-end pledges. But even if you already read those, this book has three all-new stories that no one has ever read (except me, obviously, and my wife) about Lien, Kazumi and Daigo, and Mr. Scruffy. It's our biggest prequel book yet, although it isn't really because it's not all prequel—the story about the Katos takes place in the present day of the comic, in their new island home. So it's like a side-quel, too.
You can pre-order the new book right now at either Ookoodook (for paper copies) or Gumroad (for digital PDF copies), and the books will be mailed (or emailed) to you in August when they're released. Or, if you're planning on attending GenCon 2018, the folks at Ookoodook have offered to let people pick their books up in person if you select that option when you order. (I won't be there, though, so don't choose that option just because you want them autographed or something.)
For more information, you can check out the product page with all the technical details, or this forum thread where you can ask questions (which you can also do on Twitter, if they're short enough).
The fourth volume of A Monster for Every Season, our set of print-and-play miniatures for your tabletop fantasy game, is now available on Gumroad. This is the Winter set, even though Spring started a few days ago. But I just finished it now, and it's not like I'm going to make everyone wait another nine months for their tiny paper dinosaurs. That would just be cruel. For more information, you can look at the product page or check out the full list of contents.
As this completes the first cycle of four seasons, there will be a little bit of a break before the next release while I get other work done. But the series will be continuing, because the response from all of you has been really positive so far and there are just too many monsters left to draw, not to mention whole character classes I haven't touched. One of the nice things about this project is that I can draw a monster or two at a time without it really impacting the rest of my work, so we'll just see how long it takes to build up enough for the next set and publish it when its ready. Probably during the wrong season.
Just a quick update to say that the holiday ornament and some new t-shirt designs I alluded to in the last update are now available at CafePress. This year's piece features Durkon and Malack throwing down with magical fire. We've also put the five older ornaments in the "battle ornament" series back on sale in case you missed one and want to be sure you have the whole set of six. If you want to see what designs are available and see some nice zoomed-in pictures of them before shopping, you can head over to the thread I started in the forum.
It's that time of year, when I have a bunch of new stuff to sell that I hope you buy for whatever holiday you celebrate. The first such thing is the 2018 Stick Tales Calendar, the fifth annual Order of the Stick calendar that we've done. This year, the characters are continuing the tradition of acting out classic public domain stories that was first seen in Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales and continued in Haleo and Julelan. Every month, they'll take on a different set of roles, and then tell a bunch of jokes about it in the bottom half. But for the first time, we're offering the calendar in both printed and digital formats simultaneously. The printed version from Ookoodook will look great on your wall, but the digital version from Gumroad will get you all the humor with fewer shipping costs.
Please note that both versions are pre-sales: the printed version will not arrive in the Ookoodook warehouse until December 11 (assuming no printer delays), while the digital version will arrive in your email inbox on December 18. The extra week is because I really don't want people who spend extra for the print version to get spoiled on everything before they get their package in the mail.
Also, keep in mind that last year, the printed calendars sold out during the pre-sale period. The reason that happened is that I need to place the order with the printer after I see only the first few days of sales, so I'm forced to estimate how many to get. With something like a book, I order as many as I can, but with calendars, I err on the side of not having a bunch leftover. So if you absolutely want a printed calendar, your best bet is to order as soon as possible. Oh, and if you wanted to add a game to your order, Ookoodook is taking 50% off the price of all board and card games from now to the 10th with the code CYBERMONDAYPLUS which I know was yesterday but it still works, even on the OOTS board game.
Finally, watch this space for further announcements in the next week or so, especially if you're interested in getting this year's holiday ornament or some t-shirts or something like that.
In honor of Halloween, the Autumn edition of A Monster for Every Season is now available. Actually, it was available a few days ago, but I had some technical difficulty updating this News page. Anyway, it's here now. If that's something you're interested in, you can head over to Gumroad to pick it up, or you can check out the product page to learn more.
Oh, and with regard to the last News post below: No serious flood damage was incurred at the Ookoodook warehouse during the storm and everything worked out for everyone. The floors got wet, and that's about it. So, good news all around.
Two pieces of news, one serious and one fairly trivial.
The important news is following up on a tweet I made on Sunday to let everyone know that Ookoodook, our direct retail partner, is located in Houston, Texas. I'm sure you're aware that Houston has been going through some historic flooding over the last few days, but as of my most recent contact with Ookoodook's owner Kevin, he and everyone he works with is safe and doing OK. But obviously, they're not going to be shipping any orders any time soon, so if you're waiting on some books or board games, you should expect some substantial delays. We honestly don't even know what the status of the warehouse is at this point; we may be looking at a lot of ruined books. But for right now, what matters is that everyone is safe. I will tweet any additional information I get when I get it.
The second piece of news literally does not matter at all, but here we go anyway: The second set of A Monster for Every Season print-and-play gaming miniatures, Summer, is on sale now at Gumroad. If you liked the Spring set (see post directly below this one), hopefully you'll like this one, too. You can check out the product page to look at the cover and learn more about it, or go directly to Gumroad and pick it up. I know this may be arriving a little bit too soon after the last one, but I really wanted to release it before the end of the actual season being referenced on the cover, just for the sheer novelty of finishing something on time.
So this is possibly my favorite unexpected thing that came out of the Kickstarter, and I'm finally bringing it to the general public after five years. Late in the pledge drive, I committed to giving the backers a set of OOTS-style print-and-play monster miniatures for use in their home tabletop games, and then eventually four such sets. I called them A Monster for Every Season, and this first set, Spring, is on sale now at Gumroad. The file contains a whopping 334 creatures to print, cut, and fold before unleashing them in your next adventure. The set includes many nature-themed creatures—animals, plants, fey, druids, and rangers—as well as a bunch of green monsters like goblins, orcs, and trolls. You can download a complete list of every creature in the set here. And it's only the first of four seasonal sets; the Summer set is even bigger and should be available in the next few months (though this one was supposed to be up before June 22, so who knows).
There's a lot more information on our product page, and if you have any questions, you can ask in the forum. I'm just excited to be able to share these with everyone finally, since I really am happy with how well they came out. I hope they make everyone's gaming experience just a little bit better, if only because it's hard to get a miniature for a pack mule otherwise, and what else are you going to use to carry your 70,000 copper pieces to town?
So last year I released the first of the Kickstarter exclusive stories, Uncivil Servant, to the general public to buy through Gumroad. Today, that process continues with the second such story, Haleo and Julelan. This is a Elan's retelling of the classic Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, with all the roles being played by your favorite OOTS characters (ike they did with Hamlet in Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales). This one is pretty much 100% comedy, too, if you like that sort of thing. It's a 25-page story—twice as long as the Belkar one—and since it worked out so well, I'm once again offering it with a pay-what-you-think-is-fair price tag. Just type in whatever price you think it's worth to you and bam, that's the price. You can get it right here.
Also, the most recent main story compilation book, Blood Runs in the Family, is also now available in PDF format for the (very low compared to the print version) price of $19. So if you've been collecting those, there you go.
Hey, so, it turns out we sold out of those calendars pretty quickly—earlier than we ever have before, in fact. So if you wanted to get one and didn't get there in time, I've put the 2017 calendar up on Gumroad as a digital PDF. It includes an explicit note on the back letting you print it out for personal use, so you can bring it to the local print shop and get a copy for your wall. Or you can just look at it on the computer, that's OK too.
In fact, since this is a thing that some of you have been requesting for a while, I've put the previous three calendars up as PDFs at the Gumroad store, too. Obviously, they aren't terribly useful as calendars, necessarily, but they're still filled with art and jokes, and you can still print them out either in whole or part. So don't think of it as a calendar, think of it as a bundle of mini-posters. And speaking of bundles, there's a special 30% off bundle if you really want all four (it's OK if you don't).
As cleverly foreshadowed in my last post, the 2016 Order of the Stick Holiday Ornaments are now on sale. The "battle" ornament features Belkar and the magic of the season, which in this specific case turns out to be an enchanted knife for killing hobgoblins. Meanwhile, this year's "snowfall" ornament features the whole Order, and that's because it's going to be the last in this particular design series. This was our first set stretching back to 2004, and starting next year we'll have a new design (or we won't have two, I haven't decided yet). Since these designs are being retired, we've also got one last chance to get any that you missed (or lost to unfortunate yuletide accidents). All twelve previous "snowfall" designs are available now and will be until the end of the month, then they will wander off into the arctic wastes, never to be seen again.
Normally, I release a slew of t-shirts with these ornaments, but this year I've been drawn away from my desk more than normal by a pair of back-to-back family emergencies. Something had to fall by the wayside, and I chose the shirts. Maybe I'll add a new slate sometime in the Spring, if things work out, but it's just the ornaments for the holiday season.
The 2017 OOTS wall calendar is now available for pre-order from Ookoodook. This year's theme is the monsters of The Order of the Stick (and, by extension, D&D), with each month featuring characters fighting or helping or otherwise interacting with a different creature. Mostly creatures that I know I'll probably never use in the comic, so, you know, if you really want to see a stick figure tarrasque, now's your chance. (Spoiler? Maybe? Or clever misdirection?) If you enjoyed the previous calendars, this one is the same size and quality. If you hated them and wish I would stop spending time drawing them, well, it's still the same size and quality. Its physical qualities are not dependent on your emotional response to it, I guess is what I'm saying.
Like in previous years, every calendar pre-ordered will result in GITP and Ookoodook donating $2 of the purchase price to charity. This year, in keeping with the creature theme, we're donating to local animal shelters here in Philadelphia. I suppose technically this isn't information you need to know to buy the calendar, but it's one of the main reasons I keep making it every year so I like sharing it.
I'm putting this on pre-sale a little early this year in an attempt to maximize the number of people who actually receive their copy before the winter holidays. That means our other regular holiday products—the ornament and any t-shirt designs I usually put on sale—aren't ready yet, but they'll be out before Thanksgiving. Probably. But since those will be sold by the usual folks at CafePress, there's no plausible way to combine shipping of that stuff with the calendar. So if you think you want the calendar at all, feel free to order it now (or whenever you're ready). And if you have any other questions, drop by the forum thread or ask me on Twitter.
Also, I completely didn't realize until this moment that I'm putting a monster-themed calendar on sale on Halloween, but let's just pretend this is an amazing piece of intentional marketing synergy on my part because it makes me seem more clever than I actually am.
I have been informed by the half-mad sorcerers who maintain the shrieking rituals necessary to wrench the accursed web server to some twisted semblance of life that lo, as the moon waxes these next few days, there may be interruptions in availability for as many as two score and eight hours while the unholy rite of DNS propagation winds its bloody way through the dark heart of the internet. But hear this oath: As the heartless sun sets on day of its name, so will the server burst forth— reborn and cloaked in the flesh of the unbelievers—to once again terrorize the land with its unspeakable thirsts and its stick figure fantasy comics. Let no woman or man say that fair warning was not given!
Those of you that have followed anything about the Kickstarter that I ran know that there were a number of all-new stories promised for that effort, and you may even know that some of them have been delivered. The first such extra story was a new prequel story about Belkar's time before meeting the Order that I called Uncivil Servant. I sent this out to backers back in 2013, but now I'm finally making it available for anyone who didn't pledge to the Kickstarter through Gumroad. It's a 12-page black-and-white self-contained story and you can get it here. I wasn't really sure how to price a story of this length, so I'm experimenting with a pay-what-you-think-it's-worth option. Just pick a price that you think is fair and pay that. This whole release is a bit of an experiment, honestly, to see whether this sort of "new" material sells at all when released piecemeal instead of as part of a book, so there's no guarantee that the rest of the Kickstarter stories will be be released in this exact format (though they all will be released at some point, somehow). Also, if you are a Kickstater backer, you should already have gotten this story for free. If you never got it for some reason, you can go to the Kickstarter page and download it from Update #57 on February 21, 2013 (you'll need to be logged in).
In addition to the Belkar story, the next regular OOTS compilation is available in PDF: Don't Split the Party. So far with these compilations, I've been including extra little commentary boxes looking back on the old material with fresh eyes, but since DSTP isn't really that far in the past, I'm trying something different. At the end of the book, I've included an essay about a product that I was working on back in 2007 and then abandoned: an OOTS d20 sourcebook. I didn't get very far with it before 4th Edition was announced and I shelved it, but you can see some discussion of what sort of ideas I had for it as well as a smattering of art and writing that I pulled from my files, including two half-page comics and some additional maps and such. It's eight pages total and there's no usable game rules, but I think it's an interesting look into something that might have been had various events not played out the way they did.
Due to overwhelmingly positive feedback, the arrival of Order of the Stick books in PDF format continues apace with the release of two new digital editions to Gumroad: War and XPs and Start of Darkness. War and XPs is the third book in the main storyline, covering New Year's Eve through the end of the battle of Azure City, while Start of Darkness is the previously print-exclusive villain prequel story, telling the tale of how Xykon and Redcloak met. This is the first time you'll be able to read Start of Darkness on a screen rather than on paper, so bibliophobics can finally read this crucial piece of the OOTS storyline.
Good news if you were waiting for the rest of Order of the Stick books to be available in PDF format: No Cure for the Paladin Blues, the second volume in the main sequence of comics, is now available as a digital download from Gumroad. As I mentioned in a previous post, sales have been good enough to justify continuing the conversion process, so if you've been waiting to pick up the existing books in PDF you can now rest assured that the rest of the series is on its way. And like the previous release of Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, I've written some additional commentary on the commentaries to squeeze in the cracks here and there throughout the book. So this edition will have something for everyone, whether you're interested in how I look back on the Miko era today or you're simply an obsessive completionist who is driven—nay, compelled—to read every word I have ever written regarding the comic. No judgment. Anyway, please buy my PDF, thank you.
Our friends over at Ookoodook have launched a new version of their website with updated software that should improve service and whatnot. Since they sell most of my stuff (and I did a lot of the visual design work for them), I thought I'd mention it here. I also took the time to update my own Shop page with the inclusion of Gumroad as my fourth product vendor. It's a rare instance of me actually updating anything other than the comic or news on this creaky dilapidated website, so enjoy it as one would a rare bird spotting or perhaps an unusual astronomical convergence.
Longtime readers of the site (and those who can scroll down like six inches) know that every year we have a new OOTS holiday ornament, and this year's version is now on sale.. You can see it there to the left, with Bandana and Gannji playing hockey. There are also some new t-shirt designs featuring Roy, Sangwaan, vampires opposed to renewable energy, and some other stuff, which you can check out in more detail on the message board as well, along with an FAQ.
Over at Ookoodook, this year's wall calendar is available for pre-order. Featuring the villains of the Order of the Stick saga, it's twelve months of spoooooky bad guy art and demon roach quips. If you liked the last two, you will like this one! Because it is similar, but different. As in previous years, we'll be donating $2 per calendar pre-ordered to charity; in this case, a corps of the merciful variety.
Finally, since my last update was about the digital PDFs and how I may or may not continue converting the rest of the OOTS library over to that format, I just wanted to update you on that. The reaction has been very positive and sales have been good enough that I will definitely be releasing No Cure for the Paladin Blues at some point...but not before Christmas. So feel free to spend that money on t-shirts or calendars or I guess some sort of non-stick-figure goods like food or rent or whatever, if you're into that. Your call.
I just posted the 1000th online strip of The Order of the Stick, which is impressive mostly for being a nice round number for those of us using base-10 number systems. It's been about a month shy of twelve years since I started the comic, and everything I said on the occasion of the tenth anniversary (itself a very base-10-centric occasion) still holds true. Interestingly, I've done so many multi-page strips and offline supplementary material for the comic that the true number number of comic pages I've created is actually more like 1585—more than half as many again than the strip number indicates. I don't expect to get to strip #2000, but two thousand pages drawn seems pretty achievable before we wrap this thing up.
In other news, for years now readers have been requesting—sometimes very urgently—digital editions of the OOTS print books, and I've always resisted for various economic reasons. Well, I'm officially caving in. I'm pleased to announce new PDF versions of the first two books in The Order of the Stick canon, Dungeon Crawlin' Fools and On the Origin of PCs. We're selling them through Gumroad, which allows us to offer them at a lower price while not having to deal with electronic fulfillment ourselves. The new cover-watermarked PDFs feature scalable vector art that looks good at any resolution (you know, relative to the material), updated fonts to match the current comic, and are fully bookmarked, with all strip number references in the commentaries hyperlinked to the strip in question. Dungeon Crawlin' Fools also features an all-new Afterword by me looking back on that era of the comic and all the things that make me cringe now. I'd like to specifically point out that this is the first time On the Origin of PCs has been available in non-tree-corpse format, so everyone who hates owning physical objects can now enjoy it (as long as they still own a computer or tablet or whatever).
This is still a bit of an experiment, keep in mind. If you want to know when the remaining OOTS books will be released in this format, the answer will depend heavily on how popular these end up being. The more we sell, the quicker you'll see the rest of the series in this format. As always, if you have any questions, I've set up a thread on the message board.
Back when I ran the Kickstarter campaign, the top reward was a walk-on cameo for a D&D character of your creation. It's taken a while, but today I fulfilled that reward in strip #986. Veldrina the elven priestess is the creation of one of my loyal backers and has been included here at their request. In fact, upon hearing the character's description for the first time, I immediately decided to slot her into an existing spot in the upcoming story where a divine caster would make the most sense, so she will be sticking around a bit more than the one page that was paid for. It just took a long time to get to this specific point in the narrative, though luckily the backer has been very gracious and patient for this entire time. So enjoy the first-ever fan-created OOTS character for however long she's here.
I also fulfilled another promise with today's strip, if a less joyous one. Mark Monack, who went by the screen name "Wrecan," was a pillar of the message board community for many years. He was, among his other roles, the founder of one of the forum's odder traditions: counting the number of strips each character appears in, a project that continues many years after he began it. When he passed in 2013, I asked his wife Jodie if there was anything I could do to help out. She told me he would have loved nothing more than to have a walk-on character named Wrecan in OOTS. Now, there is one.