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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Minnetonka
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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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Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:32 pm
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Aqualith Media as a new business venture

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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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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Con of the North AAR 2/5 | Into the #BattleTech grinder

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Minnetonka
Minnesota
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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
Follow Aqualith Media: Twitter | MeWe | Ko-fi | Linktree
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Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:28 pm
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Plus minus

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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Microbadge: TULIP: CalvinistMicrobadge: WW1 WargamerMicrobadge: Cypher System fanMicrobadge: Water elementMicrobadge: Cooperative worldbuilding fan
For those who actually used Google+, and if you're a tabletop RPGer at all, that's a high probability that you were a part of at least a handful of groups, listen up.

G+ is being retired in case you didn't know, and they'll be pulling the plug April 2nd. After that you will not have access to any data found there. If you'd like to back things up, here's the directions on how to do so:

https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1045788

Tenkar's Tavern rightly pointed out another problematic aspect to this shutdown: blog comments, as Google states,

If you’ve used Google+ for comments on your own or other sites, this feature will be removed from Blogger by February 4th and other sites by March 7th. All your Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted starting April 2, 2019.

What do you think? Is a site you own affected by these changes?


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | Find Aqualith on MeWe and join the community
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Sat Feb 2, 2019 10:23 pm
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Laying foundations

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
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My trip to see family for Thanksgiving was great. Since then, I've been going full speed balancing the job hunt, seeing friends and relatives, as well as getting a little gaming in here and there.

Quick paints update
I believe I've selected some paints for The Great War, however I'd like to make that a separate post once I iron out some details. And I know I stated I'd have an unboxing, but in the meantime, I invite you to check out some of the others readily available and linked on BGG. I do not plan to duplicate others' work, and I have some ideas on how to put a different spin on mine to keep it fresh. Stay tuned there!

Over the top
But not all is stalled with my appreciation for WWI gaming. I did get a match in of Verdun yesterday. If anyone out there also plays and would be interested in getting a squad together for it or it's half-sequel Tannenberg, do hit me up on Steam. Playing solo has always been challenging, especially in such a squad multiplayer game as it is.

Acquired The Hero's Journey
During DriveThruRPG's Black Friday sales, I snagged a number of water magic based products that I hope to review and research for my own products. But one prime product that I'd been holding out on is The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying by Barrel Rider Games. I know that it's creator James Spahn has been hard at work with some other projects, though I know he's got plans to support his love letter to original D&D. This is a beautiful entry into OSR gaming. I'll spell all that out later in it's own forthcoming post. My read of it has been quite fun so far.

Let's get social
Onto some business. Today I spent a good amount of time updating the Twitter account, updating the avatar and header image, as well as interacting with some of the tabletop community and updating the header on my new MeWe group. You are welcome to join that, especially if you're already on MeWe as part of the diaspora out of Google+. I'll be putting my focus on those two outside of this blog for the time being. Speaking of Diaspora, I do have a presence there, but I have not been convinced as of late that it would be worth expending energy there. I really wanted it to be awesome, but it just never panned out. Convince me otherwise.

Aqualith branding
In addition to the social media updates, I did some groundwork for a proper logo for Aqualith and it's subsidiary logo lockups. I've got about seven variations, but I can't reveal them yet or else spoil them. And most are very subject to change and not pan out, so I'm playing it safe. But I'd still like to open develop on this blog as much as possible, if you'll allow.

Quench your thirst each Thursday
One of those seven projects may just start next Thursday. This is my first regularly scheduled post, so we'll see how it pans out.

That's all for today. I need to tackle some things outside the blog the next few days unfortunately not gaming related, but do join MeWe or follow on Twitter to keep in touch in the mean time. As always...


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | meridian.space
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Thu Dec 6, 2018 4:00 am
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The Great War - On paints

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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Here's an impromptu blog and request for feedback. My family is asking me for Christmas wishlist, so part of that is the painting supplies for my upcoming projects in the new year.

As mentioned in a prior blog, I plan to go about painting my armies of The Great War by PSC Games and French Army Expansion. That said, the current edition includes soft plastic 15mm soldiers. While this size and even type of plastic isn't ideal for extensive painting, I'm up for the challenge and want to see it happen anyways.

What I want to know from those who've done this with these kinds of games or plastic is: what brands/types of paint/washes should I look into getting? Feel free to go into as much detail in your response below as you wish. I'd love for someone else to find this post helpful.


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | meridian.space
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Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:00 pm
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Salutations & expectations

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
United States
Minnetonka
Minnesota
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Microbadge: TULIP: CalvinistMicrobadge: WW1 WargamerMicrobadge: Cypher System fanMicrobadge: Water elementMicrobadge: Cooperative worldbuilding fan
I say hey...
Hi! My name is Ryan and I like to play all sorts of games. My primary gaming interest in this time of my life are roleplaying games, specifically ones with the opportunity for world-building and rules that can be modified easily for your campaign's needs. At the moment, my personal favorite to fit that is the Cypher System by Monte Cook Games, as well as varying degrees of involvement in the OSR and Pathfinder communities. At the moment, I cannot have a regular in-person or even virtual tabletop campaign, so play-by-post, specifically through Discord, has been my go-to for still having my fix. I'm currently in one ongoing Cypher System game.

Additionally, I've recently gotten the itch to check out historical wargaming. Maybe it's a sign of age?

My family, including my delightful wife who longsuffers my hobby, and adorable daughter (read: toddler roleplayer-to-be) currently live in the Twin Cities area without any set gaming groups as yet, but I am working to make that a thing whether at a game store or through friends at church. We are devout Christians and I'll happily extrapolate that in a future post, or you are free to message me with questions.

...what's going on?
* I have been told by local game store Lodestone Coffee & Games that the copies of The Great War Centenary Edition and The Great War: French Army Expansion I special-ordered are on the way!
* I backed the second printing of Monte Cook Games' No Thank You, Evil! earlier this year and hoping to see that delivered before end of year or early the next.
* I am attending the first annual Bold North Conference in Saint Paul this weekend. This will be my first reformed theology-centered conference I'll attend in person. I suspect it'll be pretty low-key in presentation, but rich in content.
*Star Citizen's Alpha 3.3 patch release to live? Not definite, but the recent updates on the release roadmap suggests it'll be ready soon. I'm a day one Golden Ticket backer of that project and I'll happily unpack that at at later date.

What to expect
Inevitably, some slice of life posts, but centered on all aspects of gaming.

I've got a few ideas to produce some very affordable RPG products to distribute on DriveThruRPG as a 3rd party self-publisher! No idea when, but I hope to document this journey. And my wife is also interested in contributing to it as well. It will also be a fun way to stretch my design muscles outside of the regular 40 hour work week grind.

As mentioned above regarding The Great War by PSC Games, I plan to paint the miniatures! And I'll be showcasing my process as well as showing an unboxing video when the time comes, as well as impressions about the rules and scenarios.

Rule of 'law'
Here's a rule that might possibly break some people's brains: On this blog and the Twitter account I've established that ties into it, I will use the Edit button liberally. Whether it's for annoying typos I find later, or to correct a thought I had after the fact, I'll do it. I do not so much mind corrective-history when it comes to my own stuff here. If there's a potential problematic portion of a post that I've edited, I'll retain a note to list what I changed and why as a footnote to that post. I'd like to think of this blog as not so much progressive in a time sense, but retroactive and referential, somewhat like a wiki. So expect links and callbacks to previous posts in-frequently where there wasn't one the first time you read it.

All the things
My primary hub of info for all gaming can be found in one place, as I found it perplexing to drill down all the usernames and handles across all the various sites and games imaginable. At the moment it's very lacking in a graphical theme, which pains me as a designer, but I'll get to it when I get to it. In the mean time, check it out and feel free to add me if you like. I do have some ads there which I wouldn't bother with if I didn't think they were worthwhile products.

Schedule?
I'll post these up in the mornings, probably every few days, sometimes consecutively. Some will go long, others shorter, to which I'll split out into a series. Either way, your best case scenario is to subscribe. I hope this will amount to something and worthwhile to myself and to you, the reader. Game on, and...


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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2 Comments
Fri Nov 9, 2018 2:00 pm
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