Of Playtests, Holidays, and Lost Time

Its been quite a while since I’ve updated this page or released a PDF. For those of you following the Minotaur, I know how frustrating that can be. Unfortunately, life has just been in the way over the past few months, but with the new year, I am hoping to get back on schedule.

As it turns out, running a playtest and really be a drain on your time and the holidays did not help my productivity over much. I hope all of you had a great Christmas and New Year. But that is all the past, lets talk about what is coming up in 2014. I’ve got some PDFs in the hopper, including a new Rule Zero focusing on Guilds, a new line of Monster Focus, looking at creatures of a type other than undead, and with some luck, a small Campaign Setting.

I’m also excited to announce that I have been working on a card game, one that I hope to publish using DriveThru’s Card Print on Demand service. The game has already gone through a few playtests and it is starting to shape up nicely. Its probably going to be a few months before it is ready, but I am hoping to have it ready for sale in early spring.

I also continue to tinker with rules for my own use of course, and for being so patient with me, I thought I would share a new system that takes the place of Hero Points in my game. Here are the rules for Hero Dice! Enjoy!

Hero Dice

Rules V1.0 – 1/6/14
What you need: A set of 7 polyhedral dice for each player (a different color for each), a set of polyhedral dice for the GM (suggested set of 10), and an opaque cloth bag to serve as the BAG OF HEROES!

Player Rules

Each player receives one set of seven (7) polyhedral dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d%, d12, and d20) of a unique color or style than the other players. These are the player’s dice pool.

Dice can be used to boost rolls or reroll, depending on the type of die used.
- d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12 can be used to add to the result of any d20-based roll or check. The decision to use the die in this way must be made before the results of the roll are revealed.
- d20 can be used to reroll any one d20-based roll or check. The decision to use the die in this way can be made after the results of the roll are revealed, but it must be made before the effects are applied.
- d% die can be used in place of any other die currently in the player’s possession. If a player has no other dice in his possession, this die cannot be used.

Once a die has been used, it is given to the GM and set aside until the end of the game.

GM Rules

At the end of the game, the GM counts up the total number of dice spend during the session and then takes all the dice spent and places them in the BAG OF HEROES!

The GM then draws out a number of dice, at random, from the BAG OF HEROES and returns them to the player with the corresponding dice set. The number of dice drawn is equal to 1/2 the number of dice spent (minimum 1).

In addition to player dice, the BAG OF HEROES also contains Black GM dice. When these are drawn, they are added to the GM’s dice pool. These dice can be spent in the same manner as above, or they can be used to negate a player die of the same type. Black dice count as two (2) dice at the end of the session when determining how many dice are drawn from the BAG OF HEROES.

The GM can also award additional dice at the completion of major points in the story or for particularly fun and engaging play. These bonus dice should be drawn until the entire allotment is made up of player dice. All GM dice should be returned to the bag.

Well, that about wraps up this update. Thanks again for sticking with Minotaur Games. I am looking forward to 2014 and I hope you are too.

Good luck escaping the maze.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Gem Magic Is Here!

RZ Gem Magic CoverAfter weeks of carefully cutting each gem and polishing it to perfection, Rule Zero: Gem Magic is finally here! This mighty 16-page PDF is the largest ever to escape the maze and it is packed full of useful and powerful magic items for you game.

Gem Magic allows you to attach magic gemstones to other magic items to enhance their powers and abilities. Each type of gem has four different grades, from tiny chips to flawless jewels and each grade grants different abilities depending on the item it is attached to. All told, this PDF contains 100 magic gems with 400 possible magic effects! You can learn more on the product page (or check out a sample from last week’s blog).

Gem Magic should be appearing today at the following fine retailers! (The links will be created as the PDF becomes available on each site)

16-page PDF • $4.99 • PaizoDriveThruRPG RPGNow ShopD20

Gem Magic is Coming

RZGM LogoThe wait is nearly over. Its taken me far longer than I originally estimated, but I think you will find the delay well worth it. Rule Zero: Gem Magic will release next week and it is the most ambitious PDF from the Minotaur to date!

This hefty PDF will come it at 16 pages (maybe one or two more depending on art placement) and it will include everything you need to add gem magic to your game, from crafting rules to the gems themselves. These new magic items can be attached to existing items, granting the wearer (or wielder) additional powers depending on the quality and type of the gem and the item to which it is attached. Grand total, there are 25 types of gems in the PDF, each with four different levels of quality. Each individual gem also has four different effects, depending on the item to which the gem is attached. All told, there are 100 new magic items in this PDF (with a total of 400 unique effects)! Take a look at this sample gemstone:

Ruby Shard

Armor: The armor is hot to the touch and any metal parts seem to glow faintly in darkness (as a candle). The wearer gains resist cold 5.
Weapon: The weapon’s metal pieces glow with an inner light (as a candle). The weapon deals 1d4 points of fire damage on a hit. This damage is not doubled on a critical hit. If the weapon is a flaming weapon, this gemstone instead increases the fire damage dealt on a hit to 1d10.
Staff: The staff can be used to cast fireball, consuming 2 charges from the staff.
Other: Once per day, whenever the wearer catches on fire, he can extinguish the fire as a swift action without needing to make a saving throw or other check.

There are 100 entries like this one in the PDF, four for each type of gemstone! I am really excited to get this PDF into your hands. Check back here early next week for the announcement when it becomes available.

Jason Bulmahn
Lost in the Maze, but I found an awesome gem!

A Bundle of Undead

Monster Focus Undead CoverIt is that time of year again, when the weather turns foul, the trees shed their leaves in a sea of gold and brown, and our thoughts turn to the macabre. So too has it turned in the maze and the minotaur has an offer for you! No need to choose between trick or treat, you can have both.

Today I am pleased to release a bundle of Minotaur Games products, just in time for the Halloween season. Every year, I use the month of October to run a special game, filled with screams and nightmares. This year, I want to help you terrify your players!

The Monster Focus Undead Bundle contains five great PDFs from Minotaur Games: Monster Focus: Ghouls, Monster Focus: Liches, Monster Focus: Mummies, Monster Focus: Skeletons, and Monster Focus Zombies! You can pick up all five for the discounted price of just $5.99! That is 40% off the price of buying them individually! But that is not all!

You will also receive a short bonus PDF tying all five of them together into one terrifying event you can unleash on your players: The Soul Harvest. This bonus PDF contains rules for running the soul harvest in your game as a special event for this time of year. Inside you will also find three more adventure hooks using rules from the Monster Focus PDFs.

What’s that you say? You already have the PDFs but you still want to take a look at the bonus PDF? No problem, you can download the bonus PDF for free right HERE! Monster Focus Undead Bonus

All told, this bundle contains a mountain of rules and ideas for your game, including:

  • 21 New Feats
  • 25 New Alchemical Items
  • 24 New Spells
  • 24 New Magic Items
  • 2 New Hazards
  • 3 New Traps
  • 3 New Undead Monsters
  • 13 New Undead Templates
  • 18 Adventure Hooks

So go grab this bundle today! Don’t delay, this PDF bundle will only be available at this price until the end of the October! You can find the Monster Focus: Undead Bundle at the following fine online retailers!

6 PDFs • $5.99 • PaizoDriveThru

Analyzing 6 Months of Business

I just closed out my 6th full month of business with Minotaur Games and I thought I would take a moment to share some of my thoughts and observations. Working as my own publisher has taught me a lot about the 3rd Party business, and on occasion, I like to share some of what I have learned with all of you (just in case you have the mad dream of starting up a small business yourself).

Over the past six months, I have seen relatively steady growth. Nothing phenomenal, but the overall trend-line is positive. Things started off relatively slow in terms of growth. With each PDF, the overall sales numbers, week over week were steady with some promising indicators. Not surprisingly, release weeks were always my big peaks, with the off weeks falling off significantly. Here is what the chart looks like thus far.

6 Month Sales

As you can see, things were pretty even for the first few months. I had some drop off whenever I went three weeks without a new release, and as a result, the following release weeks suffered for it. At the time, I was convinced that I really needed to maintain a 2 weeks cycle if I wanted steady growth (this would later prove to be not entirely true).

Then came the end of the June and the Drive Thru RPG sale. That gigantic spike came almost entirely from that sale. Despite taking a smaller percentage of the price, it was still a phenomenal week. It also coincided with the release of Monster Focus: Liches, which made it an instant hit. Unfortunately, this was also the start of the summer convention season and a trio of freelance projects for me. Combined with the “sale hangover”, the next six weeks would be grim for the Minotaur.

Weathering the summer lull, I thought a lot about my strategy for the fall. I decided to launch a new line, Rule Zero. I wanted to put out some rules that tinkered with system components. I really had no idea how it would be received, but the idea was interesting to me (which is vital to help drive and motivate me to get the work put together). The next big spike was for Rule Zero: Critical Hits, and while it did incredibly well, I was not prepared for the roaring success that would be Rule Zero: Underlings. Sales from that first week approached those of the Drive Thru Sale, which is something I thought to be impossible without a much large line to draw from. To top it off, placing in the #1 spot on the Paizo list of 3rd Party Publishers seemed to really boost sales as well, leading me to have resurgence in the fourth week without a new release to bolster it. As of this post, Underlings has gone on to be my most profitable PDF, exceeding even my first PDF (Monster Focus: Skeletons), which has been out for over six months.

Its been a wild ride and I’ve learned a lot. I am not longer obsessive about my daily numbers, focusing instead on weekly and monthly trends. I am no longer convinced that I have to maintain a two week release schedule, as long as I stay relatively regular and put out PDFs that I have a passion for, the sales will come. Management and maintenance are a lot more work than I thought they would be, from keeping the site up and running to financial records. And finally, the Minotaur has a lot of great fans who help me spread the word, write reviews, and are overall good folks, interested in good games and engaging rules.

Running a 3rd Party Business is a tough job, and I’ve come to have a great deal of respect for my fellow 3rd Party Publishers. Long hours, lots of coffee, and tired fingers go into every one of these products. Go out there and pick up some of your favorites. Sales are the best way to show them that you appreciate their work.

To another great six months. I’ve gotta get back to working on Rule Zero: Gem Magic. There are still a few hours of night left…

Jason Bulmahn
Lost in the Maze