Happy Holidays and a Contest Winner!

Our winner:  Marcella Connor!

Our winner: Marcella Connor!

First and most importantly, we at Blackfall Press sincerely wish each and every one of you a happy holiday.  We’re not picky about what you celebrate:  Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Diwali, Hanukkah, Yule, or Festivus for the rest of us…  But, in the end, this time of year is always about spending those cold dark nights with the ones you love most.  Eat too much, laugh too hard, and sleep too late–enjoy a well-earned rest in preparation for another new year just around the corner.  Trust us:  we have a ton in store!

Of course, today marks the end of our contest, and a winner has emerged!

Congratulations go out to Marcella Connor, who will be gifting the final Chronicle City copy to Shawn Connor.  Marcella, we’ll be in touch with you over the next few days for shipping information and the like.

Thanks again for all who entered!  Happy holidays!




Jessica Jones, Iron Age Noir, and Sawbones

Here at Blackfall Press, we love all things superheroic. And, of course, the Marvel Comics/Netflix series have been no exception.  Daredevil really left quite the impression on us–particularly Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk and Toby Leonard Moore as James Wesley.  When Jessica Jones landed on Netflix, we knew instantly that we’d spend the weekend binge-watching.

So…we did.  Two evenings later, we finished the series and we’re still debating whether we like Daredevil or Jessica Jones better!

You see, both Daredevil and Jessica Jones stand as exemplars of what makes the Iron Age of Comics so great:  flawed heroes struggling with difficult circumstances, nuanced, complex villains, and setting that drips atmosphere from every pore.  Hell’s Kitchen is every much a character in Daredevil as Foggy Nelson or Karen Page, which provides an unparalleled tone among the current television superhero offerings.

Marvel Comics/Netflix's "Jessica Jones"  (Image is copyright the original IP holders)

Marvel Comics/Netflix’s “Jessica Jones”
(Image is copyright the original IP holders)

It’s that atmosphere in setting that struck me, specifically, in Jessica Jones.  At its core, the comics that inspired Jessica Jones–particularly Brian Michael Bendis’ phenomenal Alias series–have their roots in noir-style private investigation more than spandex-clad superheroics.  Certainly, while classics of Marvel’s stable showed up in Alias, the focus of the series lay in Jessica’s own investigations, which relied more on stake-outs than on super-hearing.  Further, like the hard-drinking private eyes of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, Jessica spends much of her time as a woman apart, holding the world at arm’s length, hoping to keep from harming it…and to keep from having the world harm her any further.

Honestly?  I was pleased most of all that showrunner Melissa Rosenberg chose to uphold the tradition of maintaining Jessica’s inner monologue:  a staple of pulp detective fiction rooted in the first-person perspective.  So many of the great Iron Age comics have utilized this trope, from Rorschach’s journal in Watchmen, to Batman’s brooding narrative in The Dark Knight Returns, to the awe-struck narration of the appearance of The Avengers during Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil.

CSW_10So, where does this leave Cold Steel Wardens?  Well, of course, CSW is no stranger to the private-investigator archetype and our forthcoming Rogues’ Gallery serves as something of a love letter to this pulp-inspired trope.

Allow me to introduce the not-so-humble narrator of CSW: Rogues’ Gallery:  Sawbones.

Sawbones, better known as private investigator Joe Bryson, is one of our convention-favorite characters.  We’ve always billed as something of “the bastard love-child of John Constantine and Kitty Pryde.”  A chain-smoking ex-paramedic, Sawbones put his paramedic and police training to good use, especially when coupled with his ability to phase through inorganic matter. After all, it’s so much easier to find evidence when you can simply walk through a vault wall and take it!

Having worked the mean streets of Smoke City for years, Sawbones has assembled stacks of police reports, psychological profiles, photos, and other evidence into a series of case-files on the various metahumans, mobsters, and menaces that roam New Corinth’s darkest alleys.  Naturally, these pieces of evidence come coupled with Sawbones’ own notes on these  ne’er-do-wells.  The vast majority of Rogues’ Gallery, as such, comes from Sawbones’ perspective–we wanted to build a setting book that a CSW GameMaster can literally hand to their players and say, “Here.  These are the files you find.”

Look for CSW: Rogues’ Gallery to hit Kickstarter this coming spring.  And, as always, keep your eyes peeled here for more info and sneak previews!


AcadeCon Wrap-Up and a Contest!

It’s been a busy few weeks here, friends and neighbors!  New Corinth has been abuzz with all sorts of goings-on and it’s been hectic just to keep on top of all of the projects currently being juggled!

The biggest note on our schedule was, of course, The RPG Academy’s second AcadeCon, held at the scenic Hueston Woods Lodge and Conference Center in Oxford, Ohio.  AcadeCon featured three full days of glorious gaming beneath the Ohio autumn trees, with a number of awesome special guests including Robert Schwalb, Rich Baker, John Wick, and…well, Andy!  After a VIP gathering on Friday night, though, we were ready to throw down some games all Saturday and Sunday!

Here's Jules, about to throw down some CSW at AcadeCon 2015

Here’s Jules, about to throw down some CSW at AcadeCon 2015

Jules spent most of the weekend throwing down Cold Steel Wardens demos, as well as some of her infamous Birds of Prey scenarios.  However, Andy focused his efforts on his latest project:  Dwarven Defenders.  AcadeCon saw the convention playtest debut of DD, with four tables of players taking up hammer and axe to defend the dwarven barrow!  What’s even better, these players fed Andy a ton of great playtest fodder, which he’s since been working into the rules.  Biggest on the deck currently are changes to the Rune deck:  a series of enhancements that Dwarves can add to their Weapons, their Armor, or even their Base attacks!

Dwarven Defenders Playtest at AcadeCon 2015

Dwarven Defenders Playtest at AcadeCon 2015


AcadeCon wraps up our 2015 convention slate and, as the long night of winter descends upon us, Andy’s been making use of his time to get prepped for next year.  As we start looking at conventions throughout the 2016 season, we’ll be bringing a bevy of games:  new CSW scenarios featuring characters from the forthcoming Rogues’ Gallery, playtests of the Deus Vult rule-set, and playtests of Dwarven Defenders.  Keep your eyes peeled here for more details!

However, that’s not all!

You see, Andy has precisely one copy of the Chronicle City run of Cold Steel Wardens left in stock.  And, just in time for the holidays and before CSW heads back into print with our new publisher, he’s going to give away a that piece of Blackfall Press history!

How can you enter to win Andy’s last copy of CSW?  You can’t!  But, you can nominate someone else to win it!  Yes, friends and neighbors:  in honor of the holiday season, Andy will send the last Chronicle City copy of CSW to a gamer of your choice as a holiday present.  He’s even throwing copies of the CSW PDF and the CSW GM Screen Inserts, which are up on DriveThruRPG.  That’s a $70 gaming value into a friend’s stocking!


Give the gift of New Corinth history! Enter our holiday contest today!

Here’s how you can enter!

  • Drop us a comment on the Contact Us page
  • Tweet us @BlackfallPress
  • Post your entry on our Facebook page


In your entry, give us the following info:

  1. Your name
  2. To whom you’d like to send the winning package
  3. Your favorite superhero


We’ll start tallying the entries on Thanksgiving and we’ll keep taking them up until December 18th!  Don’t delay–bring some joy to New Corinth this holiday season!


Four dwarves. One tomb. Countless undead.

Dwarven Defenders (Concept Art--Sonya Green--11-2015)

Thanksgiving’s right around the corner and here’s one thing to be thankful for:  you don’t have to defend your ancestral tomb from barrow-wights!

This is some phenomenal concept art for Dwarven Defenders, done by the wonderful Sonya Green!


AcadeCon, ho!

Just a quick reminder that we’ll be spending this coming weekend at AcadeCon, just outside of Oxford, Ohio, at the Hueston Woods Lodge and Conference Center.

AcadeCon is in its second year and is brought to us by the folks at The RPG Academy, a podcast network focusing solely on RPGs and tabletop games.  I was actually privileged enough to run several sessions of Cold Steel Wardens for the RPG Academy gang, at CincyCon, at GenCon, and for their “The Trials” series of podcasts.

Among the special guests include Robert J. Schwalb (Shadow of the Demon Lord), John Wick (Houses of the Blooded, Play Dirty), Rich Baker (a whole pile of D&D-related properties), and…well, me!

All weekend, I’ll be running both demos of Cold Steel Wardens and playtest sessions of Dwarven Defenders, including full evening sessions that include both our convention scenario, Code Ten-Double Zero (Officer Down) and one of Jules’ infamous Birds of Prey scenarios.

And, if your’e there late at night, I’ll be breaking out a final draft of GameWick Games‘ second game in the Shuffling Horror line:  Roswell 51!

Hope to see you around the table!  With The RPG Academy, you just might learn something!


Happy Halloween! Here’s a Rogue’s Gallery Treat!

hellion1 copy


No tricks here, friends!  Just a treat for you for this Halloween:  a preview glimpse of our forthcoming Cold Steel Wardens book, CSW: Rogues’ Gallery.

Unlike most “monster manual”-type rpg books, Rogues’ Gallery is written from the perspective of an in-game character, the cynical, phasing, private-detective Sawbones.  Do keep in mind, this is preview material and is subject to change, as we’re in development and revision.  Regardless, here’s Sawbones’ view on He11ion!

Street Identity: He11ion (also, Hellion)

Civilian Identity: Simone Kirkman

Sawbones’ Narrative:

The first time I met He11ion, she shot me in the face.  

Granted, I was kind of sneaking up on her, trying to figure out who the pistol-packing looney-toon was that was prowling around St. Ignatius, but she whipped around and unloaded four rounds into my head.

Remember how I said that the whole ‘phasing through bullets’ thing was easier said than done?  Yeah, well…let’s just say that I’m glad that I had all that practice.  Otherwise, yours truly wouldn’t be able to write all this down.

He11ion’s a study in contradictions to be sure.  On the outside, she looks like she belongs in the crowd at a Slipknot concert or working at the Hot Topic in the Miatanka Mall.  Trip pants, ripped up wifebeater tank-top, shoulder holsters, you name it.  But in reality?  She’s every bit the good little Catholic girl that her appearance screams to the contrary.

I won’t get into her past; she’d be pissed if I did, but after we worked together a few times and shared a bottle of Captain Morgan, she opened up a bit.  That girl had a hell of a life as a kid.  It probably fucked her up something fierce, hence the mask, guns, and tendency to wander the streets at 2am, looking for a fight.

He11ion’s quite the pistolero and is fairly good in a scrap, but the church has got its hooks in her something fierce.  She never misses mass at St. Iggy’s, going at least twice a week, plus a weekly trip to Saturday confession.  Her apartment is outright covered in crazy religious books; she calls most of them ‘Apocrypha’–books that were excised from different versions of the Bible over time.  Yeah.  Pretty intense, that.

It all comes down, I suppose, to the pistol she keeps slung across her back.  She calls it the Sangraal, and I’ve never seen a gun like it.  It definitely doesn’t look like the .357s she keeps in the shoulder holsters, and certainly not like anything I ever fired on the academy firing range.

Have you ever seen a gun breathe?

The Sangraal did.  I nearly jumped out of my skin.  It looks like it’s made of metal, though it has this ornate carving across the barrel and stock that would make you think it’s a piece of art and not a real gun.  When He11ion picked it up, the damned thing literally let out a sigh.  Barrel moved and everything.  

Look, I don’t don’t truck much with the crazy, wack-a-doo occult stuff that goes in the NC.  I know there are plenty that do:  cultists and street-preachers and worse.  But on the whole?  I don’t think that there’s one big Creator up there and even if there was, I’d probably give him a piece of my mind about making New Corinth such a shithole for his beloved children.  

He11ion claims that after she ran away from home for the fourth time, she ended up living in an alley near St. Ignatius.  It was February, so she was half-frozen and starving to death, when she claims she was visited by Saint Malachi, glowing with streaming light and holding a burning spear.  Apparently, Saint Malachi thought it’d be a great idea to turn her into an “instrument of Heavenly retribution” and handed her the spear, which turned into her pistol as soon as he passed it over.  

The details are a little sketchy from there–He11ion cites a bunch of Biblical bullshit from her books–but she says that Malachi marked her forehead with the Mark of Wormwood, which allows her to detect “unrepentant sin”.  The Sangraal, meanwhile, fires bullets of flaming brimstone, which have to be harvested from the bodies of unrepentant sinners.  The gun holds 11 rounds:  one for each of the “true apostles of Christ.”  Yeah.  I know.  Creepy.  I’m not touching that mess with a ten foot pole.

Since that day, He11ion’s been floating around New Corinth, mainly in North Arlington, Grey’s Park, and Carriage Hill, taking down whomever needs taken care of.  No idea how, but she’s managed to stay off the news thusfar; that’s got to be a lot harder when your sidearm shoots fireballs!  We’ve worked together on a few cases here and there…and I might have made a drunken pass at her.  Yeah, so sue me–Captain Morgan fucks with my head.  Turns out she’s playing for the other team, actually.  No harm, no foul, though; we’re still on pretty good terms.  

In-Character Document: News Article–Aftermath of He11ion’s Escapades

New Corinth Post-Tribune: March 14th

“Rape Suspect Found Dead; Body Burned”

The Miatanka County Coroner’s office is piecing together a strange case this morning as the body of James Ratliff, 34, of Carriage Hill was found in an alley in the suburbs surrounding Adams College.  Ratliff was burned over 85% of his body, though none of the area surrounding Ratliff showed any signs of fire, burns, or destruction of any sort.

Crime scene investigators were quick to note that the cause of Ratliff’s death was, in fact, the fire itself, which would imply some sort of self-immolation or method of suicide.  However, investigators detected no traces of gasoline, lighter fluid, or other combustible.  Medical examiner Paul Arnleif commented that he had “never seen anything like this.  It’s almost as if he just burst into flame on his own.”  Arnleif added that he believed a full autopsy would provide more answers.

This incident comes just four days after Ratliff was released on bail; Ratliff was arrested three weeks ago as the primary suspect in the rape of Adams College student Gennifer Strickland, who was on her way home from a party off-campus.  Strickland successfully identified Ratliff from a police lineup, and his DNA was a 94% match to that found via a police rape kit.  Ratliff was being held on $40,000 bond, which was paid by an unknown benefactor.

Plot Hooks:

The dead, slain by He11ion’s Sangraal pistol, have begun to come back to life, swearing to continue the crimes perpetrated during their lives.

He11ion has a deep-seated fear that the being that called itself Saint Malachi was not actually an angel or a saint.  Rather, the hellfire pistol is, quite literally, the right hand of the devil itself.

What happens with an artifact like the Sangraal falls into the wrong hands?  Who knows how much damage the Sangraal might cause when the user runs out of the ‘living bullets’ that the gun feeds upon?


AcadeCon Plans and Project Juggling!


As the leaves are falling and the nights grow longer, we’re keeping busy over here at Blackfall Press!

First up, take a look at this awesome new website!  Thanks to one of our associates, BlackfallPress.com has never looked so awesome!  Thanks again to our favorite faerie imp for all the help.  Take a look around and enjoy the new digs!

Also, we’ve got AcadeCon incoming!  AcadeCon is the brainchild of the gang over at The RPG Academy, whom I first met over at CincyCon earlier this year.  The RPG Academy guys are huge fans of Cold Steel Wardens:  I ran them through one of my exclusive adventures, On Gossamer Wings, as part of their RPG Academy podcast.  Take a listen, if you haven’t heard it already!

So, what are we doing at AcadeCon?  Well, firstly, Jules will be running a whole series of CSW demos all weekend, so if you’re attending and haven’t yet tried Cold Steel Wardens, your seats will be waiting!  Andy, however, will be doing something a little bit different.  He’ll be running demo sessions of his new board game prototype, Dwarven Defenders!


Oh, yes, friends and neighbors.  Andy’s keyboard has been ablaze with new projects over the past few months, not the least of which has been the aforementioned Dwarven Defenders.  So, what has he been working on so fervently?

  • Cold Steel Wardens Studio 2 re-release.  Andy’s made some minor changes (mainly in terms of readability and ease of use, but a few bits of errata), which are now in the hands of our layout designers.  After that, it’ll be sent off to the gang at Studio 2 for publication and the subsequent print run.
  • CSW: Rogues’ Gallery.  Andy’s got the draft of this done and it’s now in the hands of his lovely and talented development team.  Keep your eyes peeled for news on the upcoming Kickstarter for this one in early 2016.
  • Dwarven Defenders.  A board game, rather than an rpg, Dwarven Defenders casts players in the role of stalwart dwarves attempting to defend their ancestral tomb from the machinations of the necromancer Jaegren Lern.  A combination of a dungeon crawler (in the vein of Descent or Castle Ravenloft) and online tower defense games, players must carve runes, scavenge relics, and build temple defenses by day, in the hopes to stave off Jaegren Lern’s undead hordes.  It’s a one vs. many game that carries 3-7 players and plays between 60 and 120 minutes.
  • Deus Vult: Occult Horror in 1135 Jerusalem.  Andy’s next rpg project, Deus Vult whisks players away to the Holy City of Jersualem at the foundation of the Crusader Kingdoms.  However, even as the Levant faces the man-made horror of war and religious hatred, yet darker demons lurk in the night.  Jerusalem’s sacred walls are home to horrors sealed away in ancient catacombs, eldritch tomes meant for no man’s eyes, and foul occult rituals chanted by moonlight,  Andy’s still writing the rules for this one, but expects to have a full rule-set by the end of the year and hopes to have it ready for playtest during the 2016 convention cycle.


Keep your eyes peeled here, friends, for all the news on these upcoming projects as well as where you can try these games out!



Important News: CSW, Chronicle City, and The Future

Hey, gang–Andy here!

First off, welcome to the Blackfall Press website!  It’s been a long-time coming, so I’m happy to present the official home of Blackfall Press on the web.  Check out the site, enjoy the art gallery, and grab a download or two.  We’re still under construction, so don’t mind any broken links or the like–we’ll get it all sorted out soon!

However, this transition comes with a bit of important news.

As you may know, when we announced our Kickstarter for Cold Steel Wardens, we were pleased to announce that CSW would be produced via a print/publisher partnership with Chronicle City.  I was quite excited for this union, for I was sure that it would ensure a quality print run of CSW from a trusted veteran of the rpg market.

However, as time has passed, it became increasingly apparent that Chronicle City was unable or unwilling to fulfill their end of the contract.  Contact with the heads at Chronicle City grew sporadic at best and a North American print run was never attempted on their end.  Following this past GenCon, the lack of support reached a head and we decided to sever our contract with Chronicle City.

We realize that many of you are still aching to grab a hard copy of Cold Steel Wardens; you might be wondering when, if ever, that might happen.

Lucky for you, I have some great news.  Blackfall Press has just signed a new print/partnership with Studio 2 Publishing.  You might know Studio 2 as the publishers of a little game called Savage Worlds…  We are incredibly excited about this agreement and plan to move ahead with new publication and distribution channels as soon as we make some minor formatting changes to the CSW PDF.  We are not currently planning a “2.0” version of CSW–any changes we make will be to simply make some clarifications, fix typos, and take care of other errata.

Note that you can still purchase the PDF version of CSW via DriveThruRPG–in fact, it’ll automatically update when the new PDF is released–as well as the CSW GM Screen Inserts.  Further, as we mentioned in our last post, CSW is part of the Indie Bundle of Holding+3 until October 14th!

It’s an exciting time for the Cold Steel Wardens universe.  We can’t wait to show you all what’s in store!


Champion City Comic-Con

Haven’t tried CSW yet? Love comics?
We’ll be at Champion City Comic-Con (C-4) this Saturday, running demo sessions of “Cold Steel Wardens”. Come save Alex Morrison from kidnappers, investigate break-ins at Genelogic Systems, or take down heroin-smugglers in one of our demo scenarios!
We’ll have a handful of hard-copies on sale, as well as the crochet creations from This Nerdy Home!