8/29/2017 - |
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
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.
Just a quick update on the books and calendars. All items arrived in the Ookoodook warehouse late last week and they've been packing them up ever since. Many of them will get where they're going before Christmas; many will not (including most international orders). If you ordered the book and/or calendar as a present for someone, I've designed a fold-up card PDF that you can download and print to give to the person to let them know that their package is on the way.
This year's OOTS Holiday Ornaments are now up at CafePress, along with the now-traditional new selection of t-shirt designs. This year's main ornament features Thor enjoying a refreshing nog beverage, while the battle ornament has Haley vs. Sabine. We also have new designs featuring gnomes, steampunk, rainbows, and healing potion endorsements, among others. If you want to see close-ups of all the new designs, I started a thread with all of them on the message board.
Last news update, I said I was going to answer any questions in a day or two, and there didn't end up being as many as I thought there would be, so I didn't. But I will now!
Q: Are the books printed yet?
A: They're being printed right now. I tweeted an image of the book proofs on November 18th, and I approved them the next day. The printer said that it would take three weeks from proof approval for delivery, which would put the books arriving on December 10th. I do know that the Thanksgiving holiday that just passed may mess with that by a day or two, but the upshot is that books should start shipping by the end of that week, which would put them in the hands of all US customers and many international customers before December 24th. Calendar proofs are still on the way, but that should have a much quicker turnaround than three weeks so I expect everything to ship together.
Q: Is the reduced cost shipping option still available?
A: Yes. It will be available until the books arrive in the warehouse.
Q: Will there be tracking on the reduced pre-order shipping option?
A: There will be tracking numbers available in case your package gets lost, yes. But they won't be sent out en masse when the orders are mailed; the Ookoodook staff will have a list that they'll be able to look up with the bulk shipping company, and if your package is overdue you'll be able to contact them and they'll contact the shipper about it. But there won't be real-time internet tracking like you might be used to from USPS. For that, you'll have to select one of the more expensive options.
Q: Will there be books or calendars still available later if I don't pre-order?
A: The book should be in print from now on, yes. For the calendar, we will only be printing about 100-200 extra from what we pre-sell, and when those run out, that will be it.
Q: Can I order the book and ornament (or any of the t-shirts) from the same place to save on shipping?
A: Unfortunately, no. All of the stuff produced by CafePress is made print-on-demand, and needs to be manufactured by them wherever their facilities are, while the books are shipping from the Ookoodook warehouse in Houston, TX. Neither one can ship the other's products.
We've been teasing this all weekend on the Twitter so here goes: The fifth book in the Order of the Stick story is now available for pre-order. Titled Blood Runs in the Family, this is a huge book that covers everything from the point where they first arrive on the Western Continent to the first look inside Durkon's eyes. I've set up a product page that can give you more details on what bonus material the book covers. You should go read it, it's much funnier than this announcement, because I wrote it when I was better rested. The book will also be available through all the regular channels that OOTS books are sold, including your local game shop.
I'm also happy to announce our second OOTS calendar, the 2015 Heroes Calendar. This time, each month will feature a different OOTS hero battling monsters or doing something else suitably heroic. Like the book, this is now available for pre-order; unlike the book, this is an Ookoodook-exclusive. That means you can only order it here. Like last year's calendar, I'm really trying to push the edges of my art style on this one and I'm excited for how well it's turning out.
Also, for the duration of the pre-order, Ookoodook is offering reduced shipping costs on all orders that include one or both of the above items. And we're also repeating the charity donation thing from last year—we'll donate $2.00 for every calendar sold.
OK, that's the big announcement. I expect there to be 734 questions about the book; rather than try in vain to predict them, you can just ask them on the message board or Twitter, and I'll update this News page with some answers in a day or two. Cool?
The folks at Morland Miniatures have asked me to mention that they're releasing a new batch of OOTS miniatures, and this time, there are four different characters—or seven, depending on how you want to count them. First up is O-Chul, then Redcloak (or "Hobgoblin Cleric," depending on how you want to paint him), then a Hobgoblin Warrior (or again, "Goblin Warrior," if you prefer green to orange), and finally The Monster in the Darkness—who comes with a set of his own Demon Roaches. That's a lot of miniatures right there, and some of them even don't draw attention to my lazy palette-swap character designs. You can get them at Morland's website via those links above, but if you're headed to GenCon, you can also pick them up at Morland Miniature's convention booth. I don't have the booth number, sorry, but it should be in the guide booklet. Also, if you happen to be a Kickstarter backer, that super-secret free-domestic-shipping code I gave you waaaay back when the first Roy miniature was still released? It's still valid, so use it.
Also, I apparently never mentioned the last set of miniatures to be released: a stand-alone Xykon and an alternate sculpt of Vaarsuvius with original hair. So if you missed those, you can toss them in now. Oh, and they also wanted me to mention that due to a bunch of production reasons that I don't pretend to really understand, they've been able to permanently lower the price of the giant Xykon on a Zombie Dragon miniature, so that's cool.
So, the Order of the Stick has been appearing quarterly in Gygax Magazine. If you don't know what Gygax Magazine is, it's an ongoing "old school" roleplaying game magazine, in print and PDF, that attempts to capture the feeling of the old Dragon Magazines—specifically, the late 80's, which coincidentally is when I was first discovering them. For three issues, I've provided an all-new one-page OOTS comic to the magazine, sort of continuing the adventures of the alternate versions of the characters that appeared in the actual Dragon Magazine (and then encountered their Fourth Edition counterparts in Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales). Issue #4 of Gygax Magazine is on sale now.
If you're wondering why I haven't managed to announce this before now, it's because I never seem to know when, exactly, a new issue is being released. I know I provide my comic, and then three months later I hear that the issue has been on sale for over a month. I think they make all their announcements on Facebook, or something, but whatever. The point is, it's on sale now—as are subscriptions, if you'd rather not rely on my impeccable track record for timely notifications for some reason.
It's the end of this (very long) story arc, so that means it's time for me to take a break from the regular updates in order to prepare for the next (probably also very long) arc. The main comic here on the site will return on March 31st, with a whole new story far away from the desert and Elan's family and all that. Downside: Less dinosaurs. Sorry. As for what I'll be doing for those six weeks, I wish I could say, "tropical vacation," but no such luck. Here are the highlights:
- Planning the new story. I have the broad strokes outlined, but I need to develop it further before I can start writing dialogue.
- Working on Kickstarter PDFs. I really want to get at least one more long-overdue Kickstarter story out before the end of the break, because this has taken way too long already.
- Finishing crayon drawings. Again for the Kickstarter backers, I've been hard at work on the custom drawings some of you ordered. I'd like to finish a lot more, and get the ones I've already finished mailed out.
- Upgrading the forum. We'll be upgrading the message board software during the next few weeks to a new version with substantial differences. That will require the boards being turned off for a few days while we all work behind-the-scenes. Exact dates and details will be discussed on the message board, so watch for announcements there.
- Getting a root canal. Three visits to the dentist expected. I'm planning on not working those days.
- Other life stuff. A few multi-day tasks I've been putting off since I got back from my injury.
The thing I'm not going to be working on that might be expected is the preparation for the next compilation book, even though this strip (#946) was definitely the last that will be included therein. There's too much other stuff for me to get done right now, and prepping that book will be a lot of extra work. I'd rather spend my limited time away from the regular strip getting old work off my plate than putting new work onto it. As far as when that book might make it to print, I'm aiming toward later this year, though beyond that I'd prefer not to make any (more) commitments I might have trouble keeping.
Anyway, the bottom line is I'll still be around the forums and Twitter during my "break," at least as much as normal. I'll just be working on different stuff than normal. As always, thanks to all the readers that have supported the comic through this section of the story and I hope you enjoy everything I have in store for the next one.