What Ever Happened to ETU?

-March 9th, 2012

Part of me can’t believe it’s been over year since the last post on this website, but another part of me believes it just fine. I hope to resume an occasional game design journal here, if for no other reason than so that you can keep me accountable. However, I can’t really resume posting without addressing the elephant (or chupacabra) in the room. What happened to ETU?

Loyal 12 to Midnight fans will remember that we were working on a giant campaign book for the Savage Worlds system, based on Pinebox’s very own East Texas University (ETU). The actual name of the book is Degrees of Horror. In it, wet-behind-the-ears freshman are introduced to a world where ghosts and monsters prey upon the ignorant, but even heroes have to take final exams.

So what happened? My writing partner Ed and I worked on the book literally for years. Over time, it became apparent that the company 12 to Midnight was losing steam and that Degrees of Horror might be our very last book. Consequently, we wanted it to be our very best. We held (almost) nothing back. We poured nearly every cool idea we’d had for Pinebox into DoH. By the time we handed it in to Pinnacle in the spring of 2010, Degrees of Horror had become the “everything but the kitchen sink” of campaign books.

The effort to pull the book over the finish line took a lot out of both Ed and I. In a lot of ways, we felt like we’d just finished a marathon. Both of us are married with children and, unlike many of your other favorite game publishers, we both have full time jobs as well. The writing on 12 to Midnight books always came AFTER a full day (or week) of work. After nine years in business, we were all exhausted. Turning in Degrees of Horror felt like an enormous weight had been lifted.

Roughly six months later, the edits started coming back to us from Pinnacle. Our editor had a huge task. We’d given them “everything but the kitchen sink” when all they needed was a game about college students learning how to grow from victims to heroes. The majority of the edits come down to helping us distill the book back to its essence.

So here we are. It has been more than a year since the edits started rolling in. We started off strong (frankly just wanting to put the book behind us) then slowed down again. Without going into all the details, let’s just say life has a habit of getting in the way. Also, it’s a lot easier to pull those late nights in your early 30s than in your 40s. In 2011 weeks went by without either of us opening the files.

I think the turning point came over the Christmas holidays. We started picking up momentum again and I’ve been working on the book fairly regularly. We’re up to chapters 10 and 11 respectively, so we ARE making progress. My new routine is to get up at about 5:15 am and work for an hour before the kids get up. It seems to be working.

So that’s pretty much where things are with Degrees of Horror (aka, “ETU”). We’ve put too much of our lives into this book to not finish it, so it’s not a question of if┬ábut when. I feel good about the progress we’re making, and I know the book is going to be much, much better for the effort.

Next week, I’ll talk about my experience editing the plot points–without actually giving away the plot.

The ENnie-nominated Buried Tales of Pinebox, TexasIf you follow 12 to Midnight on Facebook (and you should!), then you heard last week that Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas has been nominated for an ENnie award. We are pleased and amazed and thankful and humbled that our project was selected as one of the top five products in the Regalia category. Our book is in the company of some truly top notch products and publishers, and we think that speaks a lot to the quality of the fiction in Buried Tales. We owe endless thanks to editor Matt McElroy and all the contributors- Jason L. Blair, Preston P. DuBose, Trey Gorden, Derek Gunn, Jess Hartley, Shane Lacey Hensley, Charles Rice, Monica Valentinelli, David Wellington, Ed Wetterman, J.D. Wiker, and Filamena Young. We also owe thanks to YOU, our fans and readers, for supporting 12 to Midnight and Buried Tales in particular.

Now comes the part where we ask you to support us just a little bit more. Voting is open, so when you head that way to cast your ballets, please think of Buried Tales when you get to lucky number 13! We realize that chances are small for a little indie publisher like 12 to Midnight to win against the heavy-hitters in our category, but if you genuinely like Buried Tales we hope you’ll take a moment to cast your vote. A vote for Buried Tales is a vote for ind(i)ependence!

While we’re at it, let us recommend a few other products for your consideration. The Hellfrost Beastiary by our friends at Triple Ace Games has been nominated in the Best Monster/Adversary category (#8). Mysteries of the Hollow Earth by Exile Games was masterfully edited by Jodi Black and is nominated for Best Supplement (#10). Finally, our friends and new “parent” licensor Pinnacle Entertainment Group has been nominated for the Fan Award for Best Publisher (#21). No one could be more deserving.

Edit: We neglected to mention the talented Jess Hartley (who also just happens to be a Buried Tales contributor) has a nomination in the category of Best Blog (#18) for her One Geek to Another.

Fire Sale

-April 30th, 2010

We haven’t done a very good job of promoting this, but today is the last day of the big 12 to Midnight fire sale. Due to Pinebox’s adoption by Pinnacle, we are discontinuing our d20 System line of Pinebox and fantasy titles. We’re also discontinuing our Savage Worlds line of military horror titles. All those titles are 50% off through today. Grab them before they’re gone!

No tag for this post.

Cover for ETU: Degrees of Horror.Believe it or not, we began working on ETU: Degrees of Horror back in 2007. There were times when we were prolific, and times when we set it aside for several months. Now that the first draft is done and we’re working on revisions and refinement, we wanted to reward our loyal fans for their patience while we worked on this book. This sneak peek covers all of chapter one, much of the character creation chapter, character sheets, a new mechanic for creating inventions, and a pair of adventures you can play. The layout is something special for the teaser, and shouldn’t be taken as representative of the final book. We’re calling this a “beta” because we’re seeking your input on the rules, but be assured this 32 page PDF is just the tip of the iceberg!

ETU: Degrees of Horror sneak peek

Modern Floorplans: Mobile Homes

-August 23rd, 2009

Modern Floorplans: Mobile HomesSo the next game in your modern campaign is coming up pretty soon. Got your maps lined up? You’ve got the mansion for the big boss, you’ve got the diner for the information drop. How about the mobile home for the safe house? You don’t? Well that’s okay, because the ENnie-nominated Fabled Environments has you covered. Their latest floorplan pack features two styles of mobile homes (aka “trailer houses”). The 2 bed / 2 bath single-wide floorplan would make a great layout for a nondescript safe house or hostage standoff site. The 3 bed / 2 bath double-wide trailer features an office with closet, making it a great layout for down-on-their-luck NPCs working from home or even an underground gambling house.
Go ahead and pick up a copy today. Why put it off? At only $1.99, it’s not getting any cheaper! It’s already cheaper than a movie. It’s cheaper than any game book at your table. Heck, it’s cheaper than a set of dice! Get your Modern Floorplans today!