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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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...
External image


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
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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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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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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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Game Day recap

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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It's staggering how quickly your schedule can be upended from underneath you when the whole household gets sick, frigid temperatures and winter weather rears it's head, and job search picks up after not much activity. Either can take up a lot of your time, stunting certain pursuits like this one. But as I've learned over the years, never apologize for delayed blog posts! And so I'll just move right along...


An annual meeting of old friends over printed cardboard

Nearly each year for the last decade or so, friends from my hometown in Evansville, Indiana gather together on New Years Day for a whole day of tabletop. This tends to start at a Chipotle/Quoba style burrito place called Moe's for lunch. We then head over to usually whatever local church's fellowship hall we have connections with and set up our festivities there. It's basically a private con and a great way to relax, catch up with friends I don't see except that day, and start the new year more or less carefree for a day.

I made sure to record plays of each game I played to one day do this very post. The GeekList linked below has the names and my comments about each. Feel free to reply below or under each at your leisure.

Game Day 2019

Back to some Aqualith work for me. Until next time...


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | @aqualithmedia | Find Aqualith on MeWe and join the community
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Tue Jan 29, 2019 2:30 pm
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Divided attention, yet on track

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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I had intended this past Thursday to premiere a new weekly feature but I had to concentrate efforts on non-hobby related tasks. We'll re-focus this week, so look for a new weekly feature called Thirsty Thursday starting, you guess it: Thursday. In the morning to be precise.


Speaking of focus... Cypher System, a game system where the player character's abilities come from their focus, is something that's been been on my mind a lot the past few years as it's my go-to roleplaying game system of choice. I'm not entirely a big fan of Numenera, but I do enjoy a lot of player options and setting components it provides, so I do generally have a lot of those books.

Right now, I'm playing in a play-by-post of The Strange, a Cypher System game, on Discord server. With my current life responsibilities, this fits my schedule the best. We're right now about to translate to a recursion on our own for the firs time. I'll share if we made it and where we end up in a future post!


I say no thank you
The Cypher System-lite roleplaying game with a focus on young players, No Thank You, Evil!, has received it's second printing. I should be receiving my email any day now from Monte Cook Games to let me know it is ready to be shipped. I would suspect we won't get it in time for Christmas, but my kid isn't quite old enough for it anyways so no bother there. She's still all in about wooden trains. But I look forward to getting her into rolling lofty and colorful d6's in the future. It should be as much fun to play as it will be gamemaste...er guide. Like the promised Great War unboxing, I'll be doing one for that as well.


1914-1918 WWI Games Series
I wished the devs of Verdun and Tannenberg came up with a better name for that series as "1914-1918 WWI Game Series" rolls off the tongue so well, don't ya think? [/sarcasm] I joined the community event for Tannenberg I had mentioned in my last post. It was somewhat successful, but not nearly enough players had joined. What I didn't know was that it was on a private Euro server, so the frame rate had a significant drop in the second half of the match, making it pretty unplayable for me. I hope that perhaps more US events take place, but perhaps that should be instigated rather than waiting on to happen. I was unable to attend the Verdun one the following afternoon.


Star Citizen community, best community
I cannot tell you how blessed I am to be a part of such an outstanding community, especially one centered on a PC video game that's still a couple years out from release. Yesterday, I was blessed by the content creator WTFOSAURUS regarding a giveaway I had won a few months back. Due to some delays, he wasn't able to get to me until yesterday and because of that he made the prize even sweeter. It's quite awesome and I look forward to locking in my personal fleet for launch soon. Do let me know in the comments if you plan to play Star Citizen at launch or if you just have questions about the game itself.


Aqualith updates
Finally, while the blog was quiet last week, early development on Aqualith products certainly did not. No new news on when you'll see the first product, but I am laying those foundations down to see what is feasible and realistic concerning the limitations I have on time.

As mentioned at the top, keep your eyes peeled Thursday. Until then...


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan | Twitter | MeWe | meridian.space
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Wed Dec 19, 2018 4:03 pm
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Laying foundations

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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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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An affinity for water

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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In my post on what this Aqualith business is all about, one question that might have come across to you in reading it is: why water magic? That doesn't seem so strong or literally cool as ice magic. Ice is what you mean right?

Plainly, no.

I've been a fan of water-based magic for quite some time, mainly since I began to dive into tabletop RPG's. Though where possible, I've loved exploring it in MMORPG's as well. In both tabletop and video game forms, I've noticed a peculiarity; one might say laziness. You've got the traditional four elemental forms of earth, air/wind, fire, and water. Each of those four tend to be pretty straight forward, except water. More likely than not when water is mentioned, the dev team really implies ice. This is annoying to me.

Why not provide the player an option to choose how their control over water is perceived? What if I wanted my character to do vapor? Consider the damage that focused boiling-hot steam can do to human flesh, and you get the idea. It's irregular for sure, but that's still water. My personal favorite is straight up liquid water.

I get the cost factor for video games. They want an ability to give mages a control spell set, so freezing a target or targets in place or firing ice shards to negate an opponent who's fire-centric is an effective and easy to grasp concept for the player. But let's take the favored approach here, free of the shackles of a graphics budget: and that's tabletop.

With tabletop, you are not limited to the imaginations and budgets of the development team. The visuals in your head are as real, cinematic, gritty, or as animated as you want them to be.

I love the idea of concentrated jet streams cutting practically anything, or the visual of sliding along a surface, producing a slide by producing water in your path, or erecting an impenetrable wall between you and your opponent.

I wish to explore this niche in detail and present it in product form so that players and GM's have yet another option to them that would appear to be lacking in a lot of games today. I'm thrilled to one day be able to share them with you to be used as much or as little in your campaign as you desire.


Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:00 pm
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What is the Aqualith?

Ryan Heck aqualith.media
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Blogs are an interesting beast. They've stood the test of time, even against the behemoth of social media that's to many considered "the internet" for the better part of fifteen years. Short or long form, they've been a way for a user to share their thoughts, usually unfiltered, on any topic of their choosing. But you know that, already. What I'm getting at is that often these blogs tend to have peculiar names, funny/punny names, or very straight forward and mundane names.

Inscriptions on the Aqualith is referential to what I'm at the moment calling a sub-setting for any sort of science fiction, fantasy, or better yet: a sci-fantasy setting for tabletop RPGs. This would include exhaustive, but definitive, lore about an ancient culture of magic users that solely draw their strength and power from a single monolith, hidden deep in the watery glades of their homeland. Now surrounded night and day by a protectorate and constantly studied by scribes and elders, the Aqualith, as it was known to be called, gives those users who know how to harness it, the ability to manipulate water in all it's forms. Since it is a single culture, the pocket setting as I'm calling it now can easily be placed as a module into a setting of the gamemaster's choosing to be used for player characters, non-playable allies, and even nemesis. More on those details in a later post, and possibly PDF products in the future.

We were talking about the title right? Well on this Aqualith are inscriptions in a language foreign to any tongue in the land. Over centuries, scribes eventually were able to decipher their meaning, at least in part. For our world, I hope to be your scribe; unpacking thoughts about not only this stuff about the Aqualith, but the gaming hobby and community I'm personally apart of, and maybe you can share with us your own side of the hobby.

So that is really it. In looking up the word aqualith, I did see a few uses of it in the real world, which are not applicable to the faux-history and culture I'm developing here. So the Aqualithic period of African history or the German form of the mineral, aqualite, have no bearing on my usage here.

Next, I'd like to unpack my proclivity for water magic.

Steady tides be with you!

Ryan
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Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:00 pm
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