Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Still Not Amused

Though I didn't expect one, I did receive an answer from KLM (see my previous post).  Their answer to my first complaint missed the point entirely. I wasn't asking for an upgrade to business class.  The letter doesn't even mention the object of my second complaint  ...but surely, this passenger ought to remain loyal!  That's when my middle finger rises even higher.  Conclusion: KLM/AF/Delta customer service is both unhelpful and inept.

Here's the response letter:

Mr. Heard,

RE: Case Number XXX

Thank you for your email regarding our upgrade policy.

Please accept my deepest apologies for the unfavorable impression we have given you. It was not our intent in the least, we strive for all of our passengers to have a first rate experience.

With our business class compartment having limited space and our need to be competitive with discounted carriers we have to limit the use of some of our competitive rates to be upgraded to our business class compartment.

I realize this is a disappointment, and trust you will understand our position. We hope you will continue to make KLM your airline of choice.


William W.
Online Customer Support Desk
KLM / Air France / Delta  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I'm Not Amused

Though this has nothing to do with gaming whatsoever, I'm annoyed enough with an airline to release a letter I posted on their complaint page.  As I promised them that I would, I'm therefore passing my comments along to the public.

To Whom It May Concern -- Dec. 15 2016

I've been flying KLM for years now, annually, from the USA to France, for family reasons.  I was very disappointed yesterday when I found out about some of KLM’s current policies. 

First, I discovered I cannot use my Delta SkyMiles (# XXX) for any sort of upgrade because my present ticket is rated as “discount” (purchased on Expedia,) or some such category.  It doesn't change the fact that I spent thousands of dollars with your airline over more than a decade.  As a fidelity “reward” this stinks.

By the way, your customer complaint page only accepts FlyBlue in its frequent flyer field.  I'm sure Delta, your partner company, will appreciate how much you care about its customers.  Your page also assumes that everyone has a cell phone (or wishes to share its number with you--which I do not); the complaint will not be processed further until a number is entered into that field. I dutifully entered a fake number therefore, just so you know.  Please don't call it.  

Second, I was told I could not select my seat at the time of flight reservation unless I paid more than $20 per flight in extra reservation fees.  For me, this adds up to nearly $100.  This is apparently a new policy at KLM and Air France. 

Dear KLM scrooges, you aren't doing loyal customers any favors.  This is shitty service!  I don't expect an answer from you people, nor do I believe you'll change anything.  With all due respect, I'll respond with my own policy, which includes my middle finger and spending my money elsewhere.  This is the last time I fly your airline (or Air France for that matter).  I run a blog that attracted more than 500K pairs of eyes thus far.  You can rest assured I'll post this letter there, free of charge, and tell everyone I know what a smart business your company is running  (. . .you're welcome.)

Thank you KLM.  You're doing a wonderful job.  Maybe in 15-20 years, you'll become an even more irrelevant airline.


Bruce Heard

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Beyond the Skies" Goes Live

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Calidar -- Beyond the Skies
I'm pleased to announce that Beyond the Skies is now available for general sales on DTRPG, in all its hardcover glory!  It's been a long wait, but the final result is something to be proud of.  I hope you will share my sentiment.   (Click here for a peek at the book.)

Click on any of the images to get a copy of the new book.  Though the hardcover book can be purchased without its PDF file, I'd suggest selecting the bundle, which provides the digital copy for free with the printer version.

If you'd like to purchase Calidar's two printed books, In Stranger Skies and Beyond the Skies, there is a discounted bundle for this, including both PDF files.

Click here for the full listing of Calidar titles on DTRPG. Poster maps can be purchased via Facebook (USA only).  Click here for the poster maps.

Have fun, and do send feedback about the new book.  Thanks!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

GrogCast Episode About Calidar

In their own words:  "RPG Legend Bruce Heard joins us for a fascinating look at his roundabout journey from young game translator through running an entire product line for TSR to his current self-publishing projects with the World of Calidar.  As usual, we cover our current game-playing fun, and we also pester Bruce for a few war stories from the glory days of Mystara.  Oh, and Chris might have rolled his tongue back up.  Maybe."

Click HERE or on the image above.

CC1 Kickstarter Fulfillment

A major endeavor is getting completed at last!

Calidar Kickstarter Fulfillment
The "Bannister of Pain" -- lucky the cats didn't knock anything into the stairwell behind...

This past Monday, I e-mailed to most of you your digital copies of CC1 "Beyond the Skies," CST1 "Under the Great Vault," and CST2 "Skies of Fury."  This covers the following backer pledges: Master, First Mate, Captain, and Admiral.  If you haven't seen e-mails from DTRPG, do check your spam box.  If you haven't received anything, contact me privately and let me know (use your Kickstarter account to send messages--that's probably best).  I can easily obtain copies of the download links, which I can e-mail you directly if need be.  Airman and Bosun backer pledges will follow in a few days.

Just a thought -- if you haven't created a DTRPG account yet, it would help in the future if you did.  Once you have an account, it's easy to access all previous downloads and file updates from there. Please do not post any of these documents online as free downloads or for whatever other reason. If you see any on the internet, do let me know. Thank you.


Calidar Kickstarter Fulfillment
Cat Inspector not included...
US Backers:  Your packages have already been mailed to you via USPS.  A few will come from DTRPG instead, as the result of damaged copies received from the printer, and which I've refused to dispatch "as is."  These last few have already been ordered from DTRPG, but will run a bit late (allow for a good ten days before seeing them).  Wisconsin residents have already received their packages (good job USPS!)  or probably will today.  A few more will get them directly from me at GameHole Con in Madison WI, this weekend.

Foreign Backers:  All your copies were ordered from DTRPG last week.  They will ship from the UK.  I've already received notification this morning that many of those orders (if not all of them) are already printed and are being shipped todayKudos to the folks working at the printer in the UK!   In Europe, allow for about a week or two before delivery.  Outside Europe (incl. Canada) allow for more time evidently.  Your autographed copies were dropped off at my local post office Saturday morning.  Your poster maps have also been delivered to the USPS, in many cases separately in a padded envelope (allow at least two weeks for delivery).

Calidar CST2 "Skies of Fury"
Promotional Booklets: If anyone who didn't order either of the promotional modules in their softcover printed version and now wish to do so, please contact me privately to make arrangements (use your Kickstarter accounts for messaging).  These two books, CST1 and CST2, are available exclusively to Calidar backers.  For those of you who are reading this and who haven't backed any Calidar project as of yet, but would like to get their hands on these two books, do not despair.  You can back the next project in the first half of 2017, "Dreams of Aerie," to qualify. 

Final notes:  The softcover versions of CC1 "Beyond the Skies" and CAL1 "In Stranger Skies" will not be offered to the public, at least for the time being.  LSI, the printer, is changing their standard color paper to premium color, which is thicker and more expensive.  The backers' copies still use the standard stock.  I may or may not offer the softcover versions in the future, as they require new setup files, and evidently will come at a higher price tag.  

The public release of CC1 "Beyond the Skies" is going to be delayed until last minute corrections are made to the text.  Backers have already been apprised of this issue via Kickstarter (check your messages there).  Hopefully, general sales will begin mid- to late November 2016.  Sincere apologies for the production hiccup.

Some of you may be eager to post pictures of your treasure troves online.  I'm all in favor of this.  If you decide to post a picture of your autographed page as well, please blur my signature or mask it somehow.  

Thanks again for your support of CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  Your contributions made this project possible.  The next crowdfunding project will come during the first half of 2017, "Dreams of Aerie," which I mentioned earlier on this blog.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Skies of Fury

The printer's proof was finally delivered last evening, CST2 "Skies of Fury," the promotional booklet for CC1 "Beyond the Skies" Kickstarter.  I posted a series of pictures below, but beware: if you plan on being a player rather than a referee (and have not ordered this booklet), you might want to skip this part.  I'm including here some of you who will join my demo game at Gamehole Con in Madison WI, this November.  Seats are still available.

Two adventures are included, one which is entirely new, save to a handful of players for whom I've had the pleasure and privilege of game refereeing at NTRPG Con, last June.  You know who you are.  You will recognize a few things here and there as you cycle through the pictures.  For a closer look, click on an image.  For a full view, right-click on the mouse and select View Image.  The second adventure had originally been written for this blog (removed since), and was featured at VCon two years ago. A special thank you goes to Thorfinn Tait who completed CST2's layout despite real life obligations at home and at work, and managed fantastic work nonetheless. 

Both "Out of the Dark" and "The Black Blood" are written using generic game stats, which are explained in CC1 "Beyond the Skies." Since the book is offered exclusively to Kickstarter backers, there is no chance (at this point at least) that someone won't have CC1's guidelines.  I'll make those available as a file on Facebook's Calidar chat group.  Remind me if I forget.  If you are a backer of CC1 or CAL1 and want to order either CST1 or CST2, please contact me privately--likewise as regards the two poster maps.

I expect to receive another ten boxes via UPS this evening, and a few more Monday.  These are Kickstarter rewards for US backers (CAL1 "In Stranger Skies," CC1 "Beyond the Skies," and CST1 "Under the Great Vault" -- softcover and hardcover copies as appropriate).  Rewards for backers outside the US will ship individually out of the UK (except Admiral Level rewards, which must come from me so I can autograph books).  Since CST2's proof copy is good to go, I've now ordered those as well.  It'll be another 10 days or so before I receive them.  Meanwhile I'll start stuffing and labeling everyone's mailers.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Of Dreams, Mice, & Way Too Much Time

What does a game designer do while waiting for a last component to arrive from the printer before he can fulfill his latest Kickstarter rewards?  But of course: he works on his next project, with the (perhaps false) impression that he has all the time in the world since he really should be doing something else but can't.  So much for "way too much time."  Never mind that next year's project is really only a few months down the road.  Honestly.

Calidar Flying Circus
So, I had this idea in "Beyond the Skies" of a flying circus that traveled the Great Caldera--not the sort that Manfred Von Richthofen would imagine, but rather one a fantasy roleplayer would come up with.  Imagine this:  a huge triple-decked, flying platform with a circus on top (big garishly-colored tent and all), surrounded with fun-houses, food vendors, a ghost train, a roller-coaster, and a great wheel powered by diminutive fellfolk running within cables and crossbars like hamsters in a spinning wheel, all of this surrounded by a ring of multiple-level houses inhabited by the circus people and perched precariously at the very edge of the platform.  (Okay, you can breathe now.)  Add giant masts protruding from the sides, fitted with gargantuan sails and massive ropes to anchor them and the big tent at the center, amid a ballet of levitating barges bringing townsfolk from down below to attend the fabulous exhibition: The Greatest Show on Calidar. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Good News, Bad News

It's been one of those weeks.

The printer's proof for "Beyond the Skies" softcover came in, finally after a string of errors on the side of the printer, but this book had a problem: a white border on the outer edges of the pages, where the parchment background should be bleeding off.  After some checking, this wasn't a printer error.  Instead, a code had been missed flagging the need for the parchment background to extend past the cutting lines. What was worse was that the other two proofs (the hard cover and CST1 "Under the Great Vault") had been produced the same way--it was just luck that their printer's proofs came through looking OK.  Alas, this meant sending updated files back to the printer with the correct setup to ensure future prints won't end up with this dreaded white border.

Calidar softcover book

Monday, September 5, 2016

Meanwhile, a New Project

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been working on the next project in Calidar’s lineup while waiting for the present kickstarter’s final component to become available (CST2 Skies of Fury).  I needed a change of pace in the wake of two long years slogging through the 248 pages of tiny script and a skyship’s load of floor plans for CC1 Beyond the Skies.  Before tackling CAL2, I opted for a standalone adventure connecting directly with CC1.  A shorter endeavor to be sure, it is no less colorful and engrossing as the previous two.  It should become available to the public in 2017.

This gleeful escapade focuses on a flying circus.  Hey, it’s Calidar: everything comes with wings!  If it’s not nailed to the floor, by gosh it’ll soar sky high and, for some, into the Great Vault as well.  I’m sure you get it by now.  By “flying circus” I mean exactly that:  a circus with a big tent, surrounding fun houses including a great wheel and a roller-coaster, and the entire village for the circus folk.  All of this stands on a huge flying platform and is mapped out in excruciating detail, floor by floor, room by room, tent by tent, including the main and lower decks.  The original idea was first introduced as an adventure stub in CC1 Beyond the Skies’ appendix section, coming to you very soon.  For now, the working title is CA1 Dreams of Aerie.

Calidar Flying Circus Top View

Fear not, my friends.  There will be no spoilers revealed in this article.  I’ll show only top views which will be available to players.  Though I’m keeping the plot to myself, CA1 will provide a central story to challenge the heroes, and a series of short forays in and around towns where the traveling circus stops.  
Calidar Flying Circus

A party of adventurers could reside on the vessel as it circles the Great Caldera, visiting its southern climes during the winter season and its cooler reaches in summer.  Heroes could otherwise negotiate passage aboard, paying for their fares as circus workers (or—who knows—rise as illustrious stars).  With overtones of Barnum & Bailey with a zest of Cirque du Freak, the Greatest Show on Calidar is certain to offer unbound color and fascination.

Calidar Flying CircusThe booklet should range 60-80 pages incl. color maps, at least that’s the current ball-park.  The final count should be set by the end of this year when the writing is complete.  "Aeries" shown on the main map are groups of adjoining residences on the circus's main deckThese aeries' will be detailed in the text, with inset floor plans focusing on each house individually and their occupants. The same lavish treatment is to be expected for the fun houses, the main attractions, and the circus's lower deck (a whole new mystery itself).

Calidar Flying CircusCrowd-funding for cover art, internal illustrations, edit, and layout should take place early in 2017 (probably March).  Production will ensue, pointing at a summer release. As always, thank you for your interest and your support of the Calidar series.  Until we meet again, I’ll let you discover a few more screen shots to give you a mental image of what this flying circus looks like from the outside.

Calidar Flying Circus

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Proofs from the Printer

One more book came in from the printer yesterday: CST1 "Under the Great Vault," Calidar's first promotional booklet.  Many of you remember this one in its original PDF form, as a freebie for Kickstarter backers.  It is offered exclusively to crowdfunding supporters who can now purchase this printed version if they omitted to do so during the most recent Kickstarter (2015-2016).

"Under the Great Vault" is a glossy softcover booklet produced with what Lightning Source (DTRPG's printer) calls standard color stock:  a thinner paper than the one used in CAL1 "In Stranger Skies" hardcover book.  It is available here only because I'd included this format as part of my latest Kickstarter, before Lightning Source requested a thicker paper be used instead.  They are honoring my offer--thank you!  Future books of this type will have to use the "premium color stock,"  which is nicer but more expensive.  Lightning Source has a problem with the thinner paper because it tends to misfeed, and therefore they are phasing it out.  I'd never heard of this problem until DTRPG's customer service rep brought it up.  On the other hand, most of my sales so far have concerned the hardcover book with the higher grade paper stock.  In any case, DTRP will graciously replace damaged or misprinted copies. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Peek at Calidar's "Beyond the Skies"

At long last, I finally received the printer's proof.  I'm not sure how to convey how happy I am with the way this new book looks.  I'll let you enjoy the pictures I just shot.  Let me know what you think. There are a few things that need updating for the final print, but for all intents and purposes, this book made its deadline.  Thorfinn and I are still working on the layout for CST2 "Skies of Fury."  Both books are intended to go out at the same time, along with CST1 "Under the Great Vault."  Fulfillment of this project's Kickstarter backers will begin when all these books are ready.  The target date is therefore late August.  General sales will follow in September.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Thank you!

A tip o' the hat to you from the kings and queens, the heroes and villains, and all the creepy critters dwelling in The World Of Calidar. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Part Three: Gary Con VIII Video

The last part of what came through the eye of my camera consists of a collection of random video shorts (some are really, really short).  You can play the whole thing end to end and get a better sense of Gary Con's atmosphere, or hunt for specific parts you may be interested in.  Total time 23 minutes. Here is the list of contents and their timing:

  • Start: Frank Mentzer introducing his D&D game (VIP gaming room)
  • 03:08 Jim Ward speaking at his seminar on freelancing (auditorium)
  • 08:11 Luke Gygax running an AD&D game (open gaming area)
  • 09:10 Jeff Easley at the Gary Con HQ desk
  • 10:01 WWI air combat game (miniatures gaming room)
  • 10:58 Wayne "Von Deekin" Targo & Star Wars Armada game (miniatures gaming room)
  • 12:02 Gondor Civil War game (HMGS gaming area)
  • 12:54 Chronologically--Simon Todd, Lloyd Metcalf, Frank Mentzer, Diesel, Darlene, Jeff Butler, Lisa LaForce, Jeff Easley, Lou Zocchi, Tim Kask, and random crowd shots (Exhibitors' Hall)
  • 14:52 Duke Seifried and Peter Adkison (open gaming hallway)
  • 15:48 TSR party on Saturday evening--lots of former TSR folks here (main lobby lounge)
  • 17:34 Steve Pokorny & David Zeb Cook (VIP gaming room)
  • 17:57 Circus Maximus (miniatures gaming room)
  • 18:22 Ernie Gygax introducing his AD&D game (VIP gaming room)
  • 21:03 Merle Rasmussen and his Top Secret game (VIP gaming room)

That's it for now.  See you next year!


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Part Two: Gary Con VIII Pictures

Already Day Two.  By the time I even paid attention, Days Three and Four came and went in a blur.  I was having way too much fun to take notice (I didn't *want* to).  Good thing I took pictures.  Dashing down hallways and up the stairs, randomly peeking into VIP game rooms, snapping shots here and there, catching a game whenever I could, hugging old friends, scribbling the occasional autograph, or grabbing some food along the way: all in a day's work.  Sleep would wait another day.  Onward!

Another days begins.  Behold dawn from one of the rooms at the Grand Geneva.  It's cold out, well below freezing, and wolves howl in the distance (they missed the convention), but this won't stop hours of hot and furious gaming just a few steps away. Thanks to Wendy Swanson Lord for this image.
Someone caught me in flagrante delicto while I plotted my fiendish move. I didn't "have a bad feeling about this," but the other side sure should've...  I ran Admiral Akbar, and my grinning partner on the right had Leia.  We'd just blown up an imperial corvette and were looking forward to cornering the now-unescorted imperial star destroyer foolishly bearing on us.  Leia was aboard the torpedo attack ship, playing very, very aggressively.  Akbar on the fleet's capital ship, ordered broadside after broadside, while shouting "It's a trap!" (Always wanted to say this...)  The alliance thus hammered their imperial foe, skillfully dodging a Gladiator attack vessel which never got a shot off on our ships.  Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker ambushed and killed Darth Vader and, with the rest of the X-Wings squadron, annihilated the imperial fleet's entire complement of tie-fighters.  A great victory for the alliance!
This is an earlier game.  I was on the imperial side... again.  This time we ran two Gladiator attack vessels and an imperial raider against a Corellian corvette and Mon-Calamari cruiser.  Hmmm... in retrospect this was rather bold of us.
Here's the imperial fleet's initial line up.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Part One: Gary Con VIII Pictures

At last, the convention is underway.  I was going to write an introduction, but then my day went from 6:00am to 11:30pm.  So, here we are, Monday morning already, with a bunch of pictures to format and little time to do so.  I'm glancing with despair at even more from Days Two-to-Four that will need some attention as well.  I'll try to comment as I paste these images into the blog (reformatting them is about as exciting as root canal, but hey, at least they'll all be here for years to come.)  Hope some of the enjoyment I experienced will transpire through what you can see, and that I can share the fun with you.  If not, well then, start planning now to come next year!

Early morning and the registration line is growing.  Good thing that more than half of the attendees were pre-registered!
Breakfast in a blur...
The first game is already over--Wings of Glory. About two fun-filled hours of WWI aerial combat, trying to guess the other guy's moves and ending up in the silliest situations. Wayne "Von Deekin" Targo, the referee, modified the standard rules (for the best) to make the game more detailed, colorful, and exciting. It's still pretty simple. I've been a fan since the first day I tried this. When Gary Con IX comes around, I expect to see full tables. I'll be attending (even though I'm generally not registered for events). It's not Mystara or Calidar, but it flies, therefore... If you're local, be sure to join the Southern Lakes Area Gamers (aka SLAG) for more of this. We meet every 3rd Sundays of the month, at the Pizza Ranch in Elkhorn, WI, for all-day gaming.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Day -1: GaryCon VIII Pictures

Alright, enough with the snow.  The storm tapered off yesterday, at around 2 or 3 pm.  The sun made its reappearance a bit later, and in all its glory at dawn today.  It was a cold and crisp morning.  The thermometer on my deck read 7F (-14C).  It's back up to near-thawing levels by now (enough to work out a sweat if you go for a walk).  The snow is blindingly bright, and the sights around the Grand Geneva breath-taking.  If you're in the Milwaukee or Chicago vicinity and hadn't planned on coming over, treat yourself to a day-trip to Gary Con.  Discover a beautiful resort, hobby games galore, good food, and a scintillating winter wonderland all around nearby Lake Geneva.  How could anyone miss this?  Visitors from as far away as Europe, Hawaii, and Australia made it this year, along with people from all across continental US and Canada.  If you're local, there's really no excuse for missing this yearly event. Here are a few more pictures of the day before Gary Con.  Some of the photos are too large to fit properly here (click on a picture to view a larger image).

"Gary Con"
Grand Geneva
Step in and sit by the fireplace in the lobby.
Grand Geneva
Still a bit nippy for basking under the sun, but the indoor pool is pretty snazzy.
"Gary Con"
Somebody's been busy
"Gary Con"
A few more banners
Gary Con
It must have been these guys.
Gary Con
Or the Convention Meister.
Gary Con
Time to fold piles of T-shirts.
Grand Geneva
One of several VIP rooms
Gary Con
One of the game rooms on the lower level
Grand Geneva
Remember the empty hallway yesterday?  ...not anymore!
Grand Geneva
The dealers room in the making
Grand Geneva
The auditorium.  I plan on running a visual presentation for Calidar in 2017, complete with art, maps, & Q&A
Grand Geneva
One of the gaming rooms upstairs
Grand Geneva
One of several seminar rooms, upstairs
A LEGO diorama displaying Grand Geneva grounds
This picture is from Alex Kammer.  Couldn't resist adding it here.
Grand Geneva
Here a picture from John Reyst.  Nice digs!
Grand Geneva
In my view the best gaming room, upstairs.  Check out the view from the window (see next image)
Grand Geneva, Gary Con, Lake Geneva WI
The best view from the Grand Geneva.  Sorry for the imperfect picture.  That's it for today...