Inscriptions on the Aqualith

A documentation of aquatic ponderings for tabletop roleplaying, after action reports, and product impressions. Dive in with the Consortium: aqualith.media

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A refusal of shorthand

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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I need to confess something. It's likely an unpopular opinion, but this is the internet so I get to have and share it. Sorry. Here we go: I hate the term 'zine'.

Don't get me wrong. I love the concept and the form factor. I prefer the size, it's portability, and affordability. It feels great in your hand and you can take it anywhere or leave them lying around on a coffee table. Spill some coffee on it? No big deal. The one aspect I cannot stand is the name.

I just can't stand the sound of the term, whether or not you pronounce it zeen or rhymes-with-pine. I get that it's been used for decades and spans beyond just tabletop gaming roots. It's got underground history in dozens of entertainment niches I am probably quite unaware of. But the term itself just makes me grit my teeth too much to say it, much less write it. If in conversation, I won't be legalistic or project my prejudice against it's use, but in case you never see or hear me utter it; now you know why!

"But Ryan, it's a great shorthand. It helps me not have to explain what it's about," you might suggest. My counter argument for that is: you're going to explain what it's all about anyway, right? Just call it a magazine.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I tried to keep it digest-able because I know you've got a lot to do today. Let me know how wrong I am in the comments.

Steady tides be with you,
Ryan | Aqualith Media

Photo credit goes to Annie Spratt on Unsplash.
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Today 4:32 pm
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Aqualith Media as a new business venture

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Start it up
Since this past Wednesday, Oct 9th, I have been attending seminars and workshops for Twin Cites Startup Week, hosted by many area businesses in the metro area, learning what I can to adapt to the entrepreneurship business culture. It's been quite rewarding meeting a wide variety of business owners and learning what resources have been available to me.

Those who've been to this blog before know my intentions for tabletop RPG publishing, but may not be aware of putting my design consultancy pursuits also under the banner of Aqualith Media. I imagine this business plan is not exactly common practice, but I have heard crazier. I am pleased to announce this new chapter in my career, at least as a side gig to start.

The goal of this venture is multi-faceted. It's a digital and print design consultancy, allowing me constant improvement of my craft while helping Twin Cities area businesses and beyond. The RPG component allows me to flex my artistic muscles further while putting my own stamp on the tabletop gaming industry. Both channels can and will likely overlap due simply out of curiosity. Just through networking, I have found interest about the tabletop part from the most unlikely of contacts when looking for clients. It has been exciting, to say the least! Below is my working definitions of the Aqualith imprint as a whole, as a consultancy, and as a publisher. As I develop it further, I suspect it will evolve as it has been since the concept first came to me late last year.

Aqualith Media...
is a design service consultancy and publishing imprint producing quality, third-party, digital products easily compatible with some of your favorite tabletop roleplaying game systems.

As a design service consultancy...
You can reach out to me for solutions to both your print and digital design needs. I have over 20 years of experience in graphic design with a keen eye on branding, layout, and digital advertising. Let's hop on a call for a free 20-30 minute consultation and see if I can be of assistance.

As a publishing imprint...
Aqualith produces tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) products, supplementing various systems with a pocket science-fantasy setting ready to be dropped into a handful of your favorite settings with little to no hassle. As the gamemaster or player, you will find compelling options that do not seem to get enough attention in products today: water manipulation, hydrokinesis, and a proper setting,background, and plot hooks to fill in the gaps for your creations. Whether your character chooses to be a curious adventurer dabbling in elemental magic or full on hydromancer for the illustrious Aqualith Consortium, I hope to provide you an ocean full of options, adventure, and most of all... fun! Best of all these digital products aim to be as accessible (A11Y-compliant) as possible on multiple devices. No matter who you are, there's something great in store for you.

Getting carded
One of the highlights for me in the past couple weeks was completing the logo design for Aqualith. My aim was to have them printed and in hand in time for Startup Week. Alas, it was not to be as the printer got backed up, but they should arrive in time to share at the remaining sessions I am attending. I wanted to share what I would hand you if we met in person, which hints at another announcement...
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That's right, the web address of the upcoming home for Aqualith is Aqualith.media. How quaint! How available! Currently it points to the Linktree page I have been using these last few months only until I finish up the actual site,which will also link to my proudest portfolio. You will still be able to access that at ryanheck.info for the time being. Both my business and portfolio sites will link to each other.

That is all for now. Stay tuned for some new portfolio pieces, site news, and details about the first product in the RPG line, Prolegomena.


Steady tides be with you!
Ryan | Aqualith Media
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Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:47 pm
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Aqualith logo reveal

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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At last, my wanderings in the shrouded glade weren't
for naught. The hum from the aquatic motes floating in
the air quieted themselves, as if out of reverence. As I beheld
it for the first time, now partially submerged in the waters below
my feet, a feeling of both calm and uncertainty came over
me. I was meant to be here, drawn here; before the Aqualith itself.


- Excerpt from Prolegomena,
Author unknown



I am pleased to reveal the logomark for Aqualith Media. This is at least the first iteration, sans a finalized lockup with logotype. This is something I can display across the web and business cards for the time being. I would like to do a proper post detailing the making of this logo, as it's been a long time coming. I have not scrutinized or critiqued myself more over branding than with this one. Truly a challenge to get right! I'll detail the torture, the triumphs, and redux that took place over the last what seems nine months of production of this thing.

I'll leave it there and celebrate, as there's much still to do in getting my first couple products out the door. The speed in which that happens is largely due to outside factors I detailed in Renovations, still largely at play. If you at all have the means and see the value in what I am doing here. consider patroning me on Ko-fi. I am so excited for what is to come.

Steady tides be with you!
Ryan | Aqualith Media
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Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:23 pm
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Renovations

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
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Quite a few changes since I last did a blog. The short story is: I bought a house! It's a fixer, so there's lots to do before we can move in (hoping by end of the month).

Some quick highlights: I am now very close to unveiling the first version of the Aqualith logo. I'm trying to get it done sooner than later as my business cards have now run up and I need to design some new ones. I've also getting a little crazy by considering sharing the Aqualith sole-proprietorship with my digital design consulting I'll be doing on the side moving forward. It's largely just to keep future taxes easier for me, but also bridges the gap and promotes both ways. If this is a terrible idea and you've tried it before, let me know!

BGG and it's subsidiaries have gotten a noticeable facelift post-GenCon 2019. I, like most vocal commenters, aren't thrilled about the orange 'head' shape, but the font choice and top nav looks considerably improved. Hoping to see another pass in the shorter term. What are your thoughts?

Two cheers for Paizo in their successful launch of the 2nd Edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. I am looking forward to picking up my PDF copy as soon as I can get time to even read it. It goes for $15, a five dollar increase from the 1st edition, but this is a 640-page tome, so I still think it's a good value. Have you got a chance to play it yet? Share your thoughts if you like.

BATTLETECH: Clan Invasion Kickstarter punched through it's goal in 7 minutes flat, as well as ALL it's announced stretch goals in 20! The thing is a beast and currently around $1.5M with another week and some change to go. If you can fork over the cash, you will be pleased by the quality of plastic miniatures of romping stomping 'Mechs at your disposal. I just bought a house, so buying scale imaginary mechanical suits the size of two houses aren't quite in the budget at the moment.

I've been putting some time into the TEST server of Crowfall the past couple weeks. The game is coming along pretty well. I've not dealt with PVP however as I just am too low level or inexperienced to know exactly where to go. But I'm learning more about the mechanics in the game's current build. It's getting there, slowly but surely.

By the way, I am looking for a full time gig in the Minneapolis area (focus on Western suburbs) BUT also very experienced with working remotely. Get in touch if you're hiring a Graphic or Digital Designer, or got a freelance gig you need some assistance with.

That's all for now. Back to the logo work.

Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Thu Aug 8, 2019 1:29 am
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Stalled plans

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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So last week I rolled out part three of my Con of the North AAR with hopes of my remaining followups, however due to my transitional stage of moving, my notes to properly give those posts due diligence went missing! I know they are still in my current house of residence, I just need to locate them. So that one will be put on pause while I find them. I also have part of my game collection I'm trying to find new homes for and there's prospective owners on a waitlist for that.



Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:54 pm
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Con of the North AAR 3/5 | Volunteering some thoughts

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Back in February, I started a five part after action report detailing my first attendance of Con of the North. I had to put that on pause for a bit while a lot of real life priorities unfortunately took me away from contributing to this blog. That was not to say that work on Aqualith slowed down. Quite the contrary in fact. I am pleased to announce that development and pre-production on my first release has begun. It is too early to give a release window at this state, but I'm blown away at the interest and support I am getting just from casual conversation regarding it. Stay tuned, true belie...er-hydromancers!

Now, lets get this series of AAR's back on a roll. But before I do, I gave Pts 1 and 2 a proper remaster, so do take a look at them again if you forgot or never read them. It's been awhile: Pt 1, Pt 2


Volunteering your time was something strongly suggested in the Con of the North handbook and website, so I thought, why not give back some time, right? It was a great way to meet the leaders and acquaintances. Also, I got to go home with a few more CotN-branded d6's to add to my collection, which is never a bad thing.

Friday night after my Numenera one-shot, I got a bite to eat, then headed to the registration desk in the lobby and just up the stairs from the corridor that lead to Pathfinder Society. For about an hour or so, I got to stand behind the desk and help late Friday arrivals get there folders containing event tickets, badges, and the like. At first a little intimidated that I'd possibly have to work the storefront, thankfully other more qualified volunteers addressed my concerns quickly and I simply got to smile and help direct people to their next game.

Saturday afternoon, directly after my BattleTech grinder, I was given the honorary "pick up tickets" duty for that time slot. So when you go to Con of the North and you signed up for an event ahead of time, your aforementioned envelopes included a ticket for that specific event. This is pretty standard for a lot of conventions from what I understand. GenCon 2009 had something similar, but I've not been back since. When you arrive at the event, the coordinator, gamemaster, referee... whoever is running must retrieve this ticket from you so that the runner of that slot can swing by to pick them up and put them in a container for record keeping. I was that runner. And I went everywhere. This hotel has the weirdest set up. I can clearly tell it was designed over time. To add to the confusion of the place, there's the 2nd floor which runs over the top of the level 1 with the lobby. Then there's the basement or ground floor below it. Except there are two separate ground floors. On the same level. Read that again if you need to. I'll wait.

Yeah, that confusing. I think I got it down by Saturday evening, but I'll likely have to relearn it again. To me, it's the most confusing when you need to search for the restroom. Now that I think about it, for tabletop roleplayers, figuring out the labyrinth that is Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West may just be part of the gaming experience. Regardless, it was cool to wave and give a nod to those I got to play with or volunteer with up to that point. I love small cons for that as you begin to form bonds over the weekend.

Next post in this AAR, we get a little old school.


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Thu May 30, 2019 2:00 pm
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Con of the North AAR 2/5 | Into the #BattleTech grinder

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Previously on Con of the North AAR... Pt 1


Rompin' stompin' mecha! That has been the central focus of a now thirty-five year intellectual property, steeped in lore and unfortunate lawsuits by greedy real estate companies. Yes, real estate companies. But that is now all behind us (for now) as we look onward at the current tabletop version of BattleTech.

When the video game developer and publisher Harebrained Schemes announced a Kickstarter campaign for a new turn-based strategy game set in the original 3025 era of the BattleTech universe, my attention, they got. I have long seen this old game on the game shelves... but didn't give it its proper due. Much of that for my part has been because of complications and handling of the tabletop franchise. I won't go into that as its multifaceted, but I will say it hasn't helped the average tabletop enthusiast's perception these last few years. I much prefer the aesthetic, however, of that universe over Warhammer or the like, so I've kept an eye on it.

But in either case, tabletop wargaming was a genre I avoided because of financial and spacial restrictions. There's ways around it, like with X-Wing Miniatures, but that style of wargaming-lite can still eat your pocket book if you aren't frugal with your budget. And we here at Inscriptions on the Aqualith 100% support you in having an appropriate budget! [/wink]

Oh yeah, this was an AAR, wasn't it?


'Mech SMASH
At Con of the North this year, I had the opportunity to sign up for one (or more) 2 hour blocks to try out either classic or Alpha Strike variants of BattleTech. I went with the former as, while it's more complicated, oft needlessly so, I wanted to get to meet the guys who locally play and gauge where things were around the Twin Cities area.

A Catalyst Game Labs rep, who I unfortunately forgot his name, was managing the table of this eight player 'Mech grudge match. The objective was to pick a light 'Mech and survive. If you died, you'd get a medium, then a heavy, and so on. If you know anything about BattleTech Classic, 2 hours won't get ya far, especially with newbies. So I think we saw maybe two mediums hit the table before the next slot had to start.

I ran with a Stinger, equipped with two medium lasers. He surprisingly held his own and didn't get too beat up, even after a successful Death From Above hit in round 3 which could of crippled it pretty quickly. There was another well placed hit towards the end that did a lot of internal damage, but it still remained standing.

Unfortunately we ran up on time before more than five or six rounds could be done, but it gave me a good taste of the rules. I got lost in the bonuses and penalties, but I have the PDF copy of the BattleMech Manual to consult and study before I play again (whenever that happens).

Aside from asking questions of the game runnner, I had the pleasure to meet Joey, a guy sitting to my left who gladly helped me with the rules. He told me about the local group which mustered on Facebook. I told him that in regards to the group which I would of gladly joined for info's sake, but I ditched Facebook for certain reasons and happily signed up for MeWe instead. He's since joined MeWe and created a mirror group there. I highly suggest joining if you are in the area and want to try the game out.

Next I'll be sharing my take on the con as a whole, with two more AAR's to follow. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:28 pm
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Con of the North AAR 1/5 | #Numenera is weird ya'll

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Over the next series of posts, I present a series where I unpack the highlights of a fun-filled weekend of exploration, and some personal triumph!

For those unitiated, AAR is short for After Action Report. As far as I know, said report can be done anyway you like for reporting your games. Please correct me if wrong, but this will be high level, mostly for time, but I'll definitely be diving in for the finale post regarding my return to Pathfinder Society. Stay tuned later this week for that.

Today, we delve into the weird.


Into the night
On Friday, I joined the second event of my Friday schedule, featuring a Numenera adventure called Falling Into Golden Skies gamemastered by Jenifer Doll. As far as I know, this was her own adventure, but again, correct me if wrong.

This particular adventure focuses on a planetoid, or more accurately a star called the Swarmstar. This is described in the fantastic setting book, Into the Night, which I strongly suggest those running Cypher System games in space to grab, including the upcoming The Stars Are Fire supplement.

Numenera is a setting that I'm not entirely on board with, and I think the devs would be okay with that. I've seen it described as a setting that always cranked up to 11, with the intention that you as the GM can crank the dial back down to where you're comfortable with. That is where I personally am with sci-fantasy. I like pulling it back down to more of a Star Wars-like volume, as it were.

All that said, the descriptions of places and things is impeccable. You cannot knock the setting for not being descriptive enough, yet it leaves enough alone for you to fill gaps for the story you need to tell. So the fact it does get really weird lets the imaginations of gamemasters and players alike to run truly wild. I thought as our adventuring party moved from room to room, Jenifer did a fine job describing each and every POI, making the puzzles and situations we found ourselves in believable enough to not feel confused or too-limited to know how to progress. If she chooses to run it elsewhere or you get a chance to play it, I put my stamp of approval on it. It's quite fun!

Tune in tomorrow morning for pt 2 of my AAR.



Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:52 pm
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Tannenberg is launched!

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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In all the busyness in my life right now, I neglected to notice how quickly the official launch of Tannenberg, the Eastern front focused game from the 1914-1918 WWI Game Series, is today!

Verdun owners should have received a 25% off coupon this morning towards purchase of Tannenberg, and Verdun itself is on sale. I highly recommend them for those FPS players who prefer a more realistic approach to trench warfare. Fair warning: it's brutal as expected from these devs.

This morning, I hopped into a quick match and look forward to making at least a casual effort to hop into either game once a week to stay passably mediocre.


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:24 pm
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PreCon prep

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Hi all,

Had a moment to share a quick update. I am days away from Con of the North so I'm busy prepping possible sale of some old games, dusting off an old Pathfinder Society character for two Saturday games, and insuring I have my transportation to and from secured.

Well over a month ago I had promised a couple unboxings and discussion of some paint selections for The Great War. Its a matter of finding suitable time at this point as I have them all I think, save for a new bottle of sealer.

Once the Con is done with and I report it, I'll get back to that checklist. I also have a new map in Verdun to check out.

In the meantime, development and research of future Aqualith products is coming along. All for now.

Oh and I could still use a recommendation for magnification.


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:39 am
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