Tephra: Back on Track July 2, 2015 16:59 9 Comments

TL;DR - Hey everyone, I'm back in charge, the Kickstarter is all caught up, Tephra's debt-free for the first time in three years, and we have a ton of material coming to you soon! Thanks for playing! 

I am proud to be back in charge of Tephra again.

Tephra's had a rough history, but it's primarily the story of a young 20-something's youthful neglect. A few years ago, I had a friend and artist tell me, "Daniel, you are the most professional person I know, for your age." I took that as high praise. Now-a-days, I look back at that and almost feel like it's ironic.

I began working on Tephra when I was 21, nearly 7 years ago. I was a few years into college, had plenty of D&D games going on, and I just liked world-building. Tephra was an extension of that. It was a few months after I started developing Tephra's setting that I decided to start building Tephra as a game. With the help of some dear friends, we made it happen.

In 2010, we started going to public anime conventions to showcase and playtest Tephra. That was a blast and addicting. While never easy, it was always fun getting people's feedback, feeling their excitement, and sharing our growing game with them. We never had much money; the cost of going to those conventions was something that was probably beyond what a few college kids could pull off. But we kept going! We kept pushing forward!

In 2012, the Tephra book was nearly done, and I decided to run a Kickstarter. I didn't need much - only about a few hundred dollars to cover getting an ISB number and some other start-up costs. When we put up the Kickstarter, all we wanted was a $1000. We honestly didn't even really think we'd hit that. (I mean, we wanted to sell our book for $30 to $40, and none of us could afford to buy the very book we wanted to sell.)

But it blasted off. I launched the Kickstarter, sent out over a hundred private messages to people on Facebook, and was in bed around 4am. When I woke up the next day around 10 or 11 (I miss those days of sleeping in), our Kickstarter had already blasted past $1000 and was solidly in the $2000s. By the end of the first 24 hours, we were over $4000.

It was a crazy month, watching that Kickstarter swell and grow like it did. I had no concept of what that money was like, and when I the Kickstarter ended at nearly $23,000, I was dumbstruck. Friends might remember me during that month, constantly trying to rebudget and rebuild the math. I felt like it didn't work (haha, I was right), but I just couldn't get the numbers right. I distinctly remember telling my roommate when it hit $16,000 that "I ha[d] no concept any more of how much money that [was]."

Needless to say, I made some errors with running the Kickstarter.

It took me about 6 months to fulfill the "harder" part of the Kickstarter - I shipped the Playing Guides to all of my US backers. But the custom Adversary Book and the international backers, well, that was more difficult. First, I had no idea what my shipping costs would be and the international backers took me off-guard. Second, the amount of work required to finish that Adversary Book took not only me off-guard, but my entire development staff.

Now, I want to tell you about how we powered-through and overcame all the odds. But that story would be exactly that: a story. Near the end of 2012 I started to lose hope, and midway through 2013 I was getting pretty burnt out.

That's when I moved to Austin. My lease was up in San Marcos and I needed to get away. I moved to Austin and looked for a new job, and I found a great one. It added a great deal of stability to my life and I learned quite a bit about logistics and running a business, skills I desperately wish I had possessed a few years prior.

In early 2014, I resigned. I felt like I had done enough damage to Tephra and I was tired. Things were out of control and I didn't know how to salvage it. I felt like it had gone as far as it could with me at the helm. My friends, Jeffrey and Alex, graciously took over. They held down the fort and tried to grow Tephra, but I was of no help to them. A few months ago, they came to a similar conclusion: they had done as much as they could with Tephra.

It was sad, but it was time to move on.

...or was it?

This last year has helped me grow a lot. I've learned a lot of things from working my day job and I've gained a lot of stability. I feel more grounded than I ever have. So when Jeffrey and Alex let me know that they were calling it quits, I felt excited: now was my chance to take back over and fix everything.

And that's exactly what I've been doing.

Though I work a full-time job and have a great social life, I am on the warpath to get Tephra moving again. What I discovered was a huge swath of content that our teams had developed that was just sitting around. I had stores and stores of writing, specialties, augments, crafts, setting, characters, EVERYTHING... all of this unpublished material just waiting to see the light of day. So that's exactly what I want to do: bring that material to you.

But there was one thing I had to do first: I had to finish the Kickstarter. And I have. Okay, okay, I have a few more people who need their books (I am tweaking the adversary book for them), but everything else is mailed. I am happy to say: it's finally over.

Today is the first day in over 3 years that Cracked Monocle and Tephra are not in severe debt. And I aim to keep it that way.

Now for the growth part.

Get ready to see more and more!


Did the Golden Bandit really just try to steal an entire Clocktower? May 1, 2015 12:45

The Golden Bandit (& other Rangston Adventures) has just released!

We've been working on this little doozy for a while. Rangston's a troubled town in Western Evangless, where the law isn't well enforced and inventors just want to have fun. It's a place where people like the Golden Bandit can pull off heists so spectacular that they involve stealing a whole clocktower. It's a place where cattle barons and Brimstones fight to keep everyone under their thumb.

I've never been happier with an expansion release. Not only is Victor Helton's newest art spot-on, but this adventure also comes fully-packed with a ton of ideas, adventures, and people to use in Rangston. And if that doesn't get you, then how about the full list of background stories and a new craft: Widgets?

But what really tickles my fancy is that this book's creative lead also made a cool tune to go with Rangston. You can check it out on our Soundcloud.

Cheers & Gears

Mementos just got a Lucky Update! April 29, 2015 15:33

One of our classic favorites, Mementos, just got an update!

I've always had a weird love for Mementos. It's unusual. It's not one of the normal ideas; this isn't "crafting a sword" or "building a rifle." This is taking a normal every-day item and "crafting" some lucky or unlucky traits into it. It lets you take your character's lucky signet ring, and suddenly it has all of these reality shaping "powers" that only exist at the table.

But Mementos can also be used for some pretty intense tricks. Let's say you're a beta rifle crafter. Now you can take your beta rifle and make it a memento. Then you can bind it to yourself, so even if you lose it or it gets destroyed, it'll somehow coincidentally wind up in your possession again. Mementos isn't just quirky, it's powerful!

So what's new with Mementos? We've just updated some of the formatting and added 8 new lucky and cursed items for you to use in your game (or just for inspiration). And they cover every level, from the easier trinket to Lord Hazard's Signet Ring - a kingdom-shaping lucky ring.

Mementos is available here for just $1.99, and it's a steal!

Remember: If you buy the file from us, if we ever update the file, we'll update you too. That way you always have the newest file. Game on!

Free Adventure Concept: She's Gonna Blow! April 26, 2015 23:30

Are you running out of freaking awesome adventure ideas? I know my well sure dries up on occasion... so here, have an adventure concept. Don't worry about paying me, this one's on the house:

She's Gonna Blow - Free Concept Adventure! 



Site Tweaks & Character Sheets April 6, 2015 14:00 1 Comment

Have you been over to our Tephra website? It's a pretty hopping place for all things Tephra. Unfortunately, it hasn't been touched much in the last year. But I'm changing that!

I've been going over it, updating things, and making it a more accessible website. I even found some dead links (uh oh!), but they're all alive and working now. 

The craziest thing I discovered was that our character sheets were no where to be found. How has anybody been playing Tephra without character sheets!? Thankfully, you can always find our character sheets in the back of your book. But now you don't have to. Just go on over to this page:

You'll be able to download not only three versions of the character sheet, but also the automaton sheet, a map of Rilausia, and a bunch of fillable cards (for specialties, augments, and crafted items). It's useful stuff!

If anything isn't working, let me know! Send me a message at Daniel@Scheme.Works and I'll take care of it. 

Tephra has a Subreddit! April 3, 2015 11:27

I will admit, I'm not a reddit user. That largely stems from the fact that I barely give myself enough time to check my emails, see what's going on in our forums, or keep abreast of anything happening in the real world. So when I found out that some of our fans had created a Tephra subreddit, I was pretty pleased!

You can probably guess that I have no idea what it takes to make a subreddit. I'm still working on figuring out how to "log-in." But I'm sure that most of you are reddit aficionados (because I read something about reddit being one of the highest-trafficked websites ever), so stop on by and say hello. I'm sure the dedicated souls who built that subreddit will appreciate a bit of company!

You can check out the Tephra subreddit here.

Best Tephra Release EVER! April 1, 2015 21:07 1 Comment

It's April Fools' Day, so obviously that title is hyperbole.... right?

Well, not entirely.

I'm here to celebrate a few things! The biggest and most important is the smashing release of our newest free supplement, the Anti-Graviton Magic 12-ball! This little gizmo will introduce tons of physics-breaking awfulness into your already chaotic Tephra saga. If you didn't know how to ruin everybody's gaming experience before, this thing will surely do it! And the worst thing about it is that, when you read it, you'll start to think, "This thing is kind of legit. Maybe I should use it?" Then, you'll come to your senses and realize, "NOPE!" And you'll be right! 

Now that you've settled down from your excitement over the Magic 12-ball, what other exciting things are going on? 

Well.... what if I told you that we are now selling the Tephra Playing Guide? That's awesome, right!? Wait, you already have that? No no no no, I meant the PDF. Yep, the long-awaited Tephra Playing Guide is now in PDF form. Get it here!

What else could possibly be new? 

I'm glad you asked! 


You've always wanted Aether. I know you have. Well now's your chance: the 5-star awesome Aether system is now available in a surprisingly cheap PDF form. You should grab it here

By now you're wondering, "Daniel, is that all you have to talk about? New product? I'm not made of money, so stop trying to sell me things!" To which I respond: "Why then are you reading a blog on a webstore?" 

But let's put aside my inherent snarkiness and instead gaze over to the top right, where you will see a link labeled "Free Stuff!" in the navigation bar. Yep, that's free stuff. Nope, there's not much there right now. But there will be! For now, though, go enjoy decimating your sanity with the Anti-Graviton Magic 12-ball. And those other cool PDFs we have up for sale.