All output files delivered

Final PDF files have been delivered to Robert for the book block, the hardback cover, and the downloadable version. The first two files will go, or are going, to the printer this weekend, if I understand correctly.

A final ZIP-compressed archive of source files will be delivered once the physical book is approved for the first print run and the downloadable book is posted.

—Dave Bryant, Catspaw DTP Services

Book block delivered

In publishing parlance, the book block is the entirety of a book’s interior, front to back. The term arises from the fact that, after they are printed, stacked, and trimmed, a set of interior pages looks like, and is treated as, a block before and as it is sent to the bindery department.

Roan’s book block has been frozen after final review, and I’ve sent the source files and print-quality PDF files to Robert. All that remains now is to set up the cover flat, the front cover, back cover, and spine as one poster-like Adobe® Illustrator® file. A few elements remain for that—most importantly a template showing the exact dimensions of a hardback cover for a 260-page US letter-size book. That requires at least the preliminaries of setting up the print job.

We’re close now.

—Dave Bryant, Catspaw DTP Services

Final stages

The Roan rulebook currently is in final review. Page count as it will go to press is 260. The book’s organizational structure has evolved considerably over the course of writing, design, and lay-out; here’s how it stands now:

Front matter includes a title page, copyright and simple credits page, a prefatory bit of background material, a table of contents, and an introduction.

The Ponies of Roan describes the various tribes living in Roan and lays out the rules for creating characters.

Rules of Play contains the game’s rules, including the magic unique to the game world.

Equipment and Vehicles details weapons, gear, and transportation for use in the game.

Non-Player Characters provides examples of ponies players and game-masters can use as written or as inspiration for their own characters; some are provided by Kickstarter backers.

Peoples and History gives context to the world in which the game is set, including background on the nation of Roan and on other major countries and species.

Creatures lists dozens of exotic animals and intelligent beings, with game statistics and considerable descriptive text.

Locations goes into more detail on several places or regions where adventures or whole games can be set, some provided by Kickstarter backers. One was devised by an experienced professional in the RPG field.

Credits and Thanks acknowledges all the contributors to Roan—writers, artists, backers, and anyone else who’s helped the project along.

—Dave Bryant, Catspaw DTP Services

Down to the wire

This will be a very short post. Robert and I, and a few artists, are working hard to get the final bits of the rulebook finished and ready for print. As with any project, there are last-minute complications and realizations. (“Um, hey, did anyone remember to notify x that we need y?” “Oh. Yeah. Let me get on that right now.”)

Currently page count is right on 250, including front matter—the pages at the beginning that get numbered with those funny lower-case Roman numerals. That total probably will go up a little more as the last few pages are added. I literally have lost count of the illustrations, but there are lots, from a whole passel of artists. Last but not least, I’m pleased with the design I’ve developed to present all that text and art.

See you soon!

—Dave Bryant, Catspaw DTP Services

Sample pages

Work on the rulebook is close to completion. A few sections are yet to be finished, but many of the pages are ready, barring last-minute tweaks—and every project has its share of those.

In the last post I selected a handful of Baron’s sketches generated for the project. This time I thought I’d display a similar sampling of (nominally) completed pages from throughout the rulebook to provide an impression of what the final result will look like.


Part I, “The Ponies of Roan”, introduces the various pony tribes or races that live in the nation of Roan and contains the rules for creating pony characters along with examples. Page 2 is drawn from the first section, told partly as a monologue from a kelpie named Clear Skies and partly in game terms.


Part II, “Roan Rules of Play”, covers all the mechanics needed for the game. Page 42 is drawn from the basic task-resolution rules, including a concept unique to the Ubiquity system licensed for Roan, “Style Points”.


Part III, “The World of Roan”, is by far the biggest part of the book because it has the biggest task—presenting all the setting and background information needed to get a reasonably complete picture of the game world and everything in it. Page 88 deals with water vehicles, both general types and examples of specific models, that can be found in a world with 1920s–1940s technology.


Page 104 begins a several-page description of the mirages, a species of magical mimics with a culture inspired by Persia. This is just one of several additional species that are included thanks to the generous support of Kickstarter contributors, which was enough for the project to meet all its stretch goals.


Page 135 presents descriptive text and game statistics for creek men, one of dozens of creatures unique to Roan, or inspired by real myths and legends, included for the edification of players and game-masters. Some are benign, some don’t care very much, some are hostile, and a few are actively malevolent.

With page count closing in on 200, these are just a drop in the bucket! As one might imagine, I’m proud of the design and lay-out work I’ve done on this book, and I’m pleased to show folks this little glimpse into what we’ll be printing and shipping.

—Dave Bryant, Catspaw DTP Services

Sample artwork

For your delectation, here are a few images of art Baron has generated for Roan. Some—but not all—of them will appear in the rulebook, so this is something of a behind-the-scenes peek as well as an advance glimpse. The images display a wide variety of subjects and show some of the thought Baron has put into supporting the world-building going into the setting and background of Roan.


The air medusa is a creature of the middle and high troposphere. Though generally inoffensive, it can be dangerous if it decides it is being threatened. Airships and aircraft alike usually try to steer clear of these animals, but if an air medusa suddenly emerges from a cloud, that might prove impossible.

Baron drew the air medusa during one of his biweekly Picarto streams.


Speaking of airships and aircraft: Aviation is perhaps Baron’s greatest love. This is only one of several pages of airships, airplanes, autogyros, and other mechanical marvels of the air he’s generated for Roan. Most of them reflect the level of technology—roughly 1920s to 1940s—of the Roan setting, but a few more advanced designs sneaked onto other pages.

The bomber at the top features prominently in the rulebook’s cover art.


Firearms are perhaps Baron’s second-greatest love. Again, this is a single representative of a whole sheaf of pages, in this case dealing with the technological challenges of designing weapons operable and maintainable by creatures without opposable thumbs. It’s fiendishly tricky, but it can be done.

For proof, there’s a young competition shooter nicknamed “Nubs” who was born without hands—only the tiny vestiges of a digit or two on each arm (hence the nickname). Search for that nickname on Youtube; there are quite a few clips of him in action.


Powder Keg’s motto is “There are two kinds of problems in the world: Those that can be solved with explosives, and those that cannot. I am better at solving the first.”

Baron excels at tossing out vivid, well-realized characters at the drop of a hat. For a forthcoming double-page-size image, he needed a set of archetypical pulp-adventure characters appropriate to the Roan setting. They proved so appealing they may well appear somewhere as non-player characters!


Petina Pony is the owner and operator of the pleasure airship Heavenly Bawdy, which travels around Roan as a sort of cruise liner crossed with a riverboat casino—among other things. She also is slightly megalomaniacal and is rubbing her hooves together, pleased to be taking over a few more pages in the rulebook.

So there you have it: A small selection of images by Baron Engel that will appear in the Roan rulebook or have influenced this pulp-adventure world of ponies and other creatures!

—Dave Bryant, Catspaw DTP Services

Audience participation time!

Here’s a chance to contribute more little bits of content to the rulebook.

A part of the book’s front matter will be a mock-up of a souvenir mini-magazine, written and designed as if it really were a publication in the Roan universe. While discussing some of the possibilities with Robert, an inspiration came to me.

Anyone who’s read comic books or magazines from the old days (for which read the 1970s and before; yes, I’m a graybeard) has seen those peculiar and often unintentionally hilarious mini-advertisements that used to fill the back pages and inside covers. They were set in small type, crowded together by the dozens, and occasionally graced—if that’s the word—with small, blobby, amateurish illustrations. But they had a unique charm redolent of a bygone era.

What if, I proposed to Robert, we fill the mock-magazine’s “inside back cover” with zillions of those little advertisements?

He responded enthusiastically, and so I bring to you this chance to submit your own serious, silly, and satirical mock-advertisements. They can be bits of world-building, plot hooks, character hooks, red herrings, jokes, or just plain weirdness. Personal ads, mail-order solicitations, self-help offers, recruitment come-ons—the sky’s the limit.

As always, we reserve the right to accept or refuse any submission, and to edit or rewrite to fit the style and space available. Go thou and brainstorm!

—Dave Bryant, graphic designer

A New Country Heard From

Once again, it’s been quite a while since the last update. We aim to remedy that now and in the future.

When everyone is busier than one-armed paper-hangers working on the reason the site exists, it’s difficult to spare any time for other activities, even those relating to the project itself. To address the inherent difficulty, Baron Engel and I, Dave Bryant, have been brought on board to take some of the burden off Robert, who is typing as fast as he can on the Roan rulebook.

Baron is one of the illustrators for the project and has provided advice and support in the areas of world-building, art direction, and promotion. I’m the professional graphic designer and typesetter who’s been laying out the book in Adobe® InDesign®. When shiny new copies emerge from the print house, they’ll be the product not only of our efforts, but those of many other writers, artists, and supporters—financial or otherwise.

Current Events

The three of us attended Babscon in Burlingame (a city on the Peninsula just south of San Francisco Airport) the weekend of 21–24 April and had a grand time. Not only that, but Baron enjoyed brisk sales in the art show and at the dealer’s table we tended throughout the convention, and Robert sold two dozen or more pre-orders for the rulebook in hardcover, PDF, or both.

As we announced to attendees who visited our table, the book is roughly three-quarters finished. Our goal is to go to press in late May 2016, with fulfillment of orders happening in June. Robert and Baron will be at Bronycon and intend to have stacks of books with them for sale.

Future Posts

We’ll try to have a new post up on this Web site on a weekly basis—Wednesday if possible. One of the three of us will dash off some sort of update, even a short one, with new information or images. I will provide a few sample pages to show everyone what the overall design looks like. Baron will share some of his illustrations and world-building sketches. Robert will issue important bulletins. (“Hello Mr. and Mrs. Roan and all the ships at sea! Flash!”)

—Dave Bryant, Catspaw DTP Services