10 days ago
– Sun, Oct 10, 2021 at 12:15:46 AM
Hello everyone Justin here. First off I want to apologize for not getting this update out sooner I was waiting for our shipping partner to get back from China National Day, which is a 7 day holiday from October 1st to 7th.
To get inventory into the country faster our shipping partner advised breaking our shipment into two separate shipments instead of one large one, which we agreed to do. The good news is that the the first shipment cleared customs on the 24th and arrived at the warehouse on the 1st and is currently being processed. The bad news is that the second shipment hasn't cleared customs yet and I was given an updated eta for the rest of our products to arrive on the 15th of October. I'm truly sorry that you have all been waiting much longer for your orders than you planned too, and that you have been left in the dark for longer than you should have been on updates.
I will be keeping everyone updated as I get news on the status of everything as soon as I get the information from here on out.
Spire of Secrets Live!
about 2 months ago
– Tue, Aug 31, 2021 at 08:10:55 PM
Valda’s Spire of Secrets is live on Kickstarter! Click here and go check it out!
This is the definitive expansion for 5e. It’s the Player’s Handbook 2 or Xanathar’s, but bigger and better. Spire of Secrets is nearly 400 pages, with 10 new base classes, 150+ subclasses, 130+ spells, and much more. And it’s ALL completely compatible with Dark Matter, top to bottom.
Back it today!
Valda’s Spire of Secrets — Launching August 31st
2 months ago
– Fri, Aug 13, 2021 at 11:35:30 PM
As promised in our last update, it’s time to talk turkey on our next book, Valda’s Spire of Secrets (for you non-Americans, that means I’m gonna get real granular about what’s in it.) I might be hedging towards delusions of grandeur, but now that it’s done, I think this is the greatest D&D 5e expansion ever made.
Click here and tap the “Notify me at Launch” button.
Tl;dr: Valda’s Spire of Secrets
- 10 revolutionary new base classes
- 5 inventive new races
- 150+ subclasses for every class
- Works with EVERY campaign setting
- An arsenal of exotic weapons and magic items
- 130+ new spells
- Much, much more
- Kickstarter August 31st
Valda’s Spire of Secrets is a 380-page expansion for 5E packed to the brim with new ways to play. The 10 brand new base classes are only the tip of the iceberg: the book comes with 150+ new subclasses for every class, brand new feats and races, and much more.
Spire of Secrets works with any setting and any adventure, including and especially Dark Matter. Think about it like an expansion for the core rules—it’s not a new edition or a campaign setting. However, it finally puts into print all those base classes that showed up in Dark Matter! Core elements of that setting, like the Gunslinger class, can now stand side-by-side with the core 5e classes.
Each class has its own unique themes and inventive mechanics, but they are all wholly in tune with core 5e design. And they’ve been rigorously playtested over the last 5 years, to ensure they’re balanced, fun, and easy to learn. Let’s sprint through them, shall we?
Alchemist. Using half-science, half-magic concoctions, alchemists brew up explosives and transmutative potions on the fly. Play an alchemist if you want to experiment with a wide array of scientific discoveries and lethal bombs!
Captain. Brave commanders and savvy tacticians, captains control a second character in the form of a cohort and enhance their allies in combat with dice-fueled maneuvers. Play a captain if you want to lead your allies to victory!
Craftsman. Master artisans and inventors, craftsmen can forge masterwork equipment and devise entirely new weapons on the fly. Play a craftsman if you want to experiment with a comprehensive array of weapon properties to invent entirely new weapons and armor.
Gunslinger. Narrowed eyes, smoking barrels. Gunslingers live on the edge, brandishing a special resource called risk dice to keep them alive by the skin of their teeth. Play a gunslinger if you enjoy scoring powerful critical hits and having an entire arsenal of guns at your disposal.
Investigator. Inspired by characters like Van Helsing and John Constantine, investigators are supernatural researchers and monster hunters who use precise strikes and tomes brimming with rituals to banish occult threats. Play an investigator if you want access to boundless utility options and the ability to go toe-to-toe with a vampire or werewolf.
Martyr. Chosen by the gods to complete a task, martyrs are set upon a harsh, predestined path, requiring constant sacrifice. Martyrs use their hit points to fuel their divine abilities, but supernaturally resist death's embrace. Play a martyr if you want to experience the push and pull of sacrificing hit points for massive damage, only to heal moments later.
Necromancer. Practitioners of necromancy are an eccentric breed who seek out forbidden spells and unquestionably evil rituals to master the grim magic of death. With a small army of undead thralls, necromancers overrun their foes while slinging spells with critical accuracy. Play a necromancer to balance ethics against ambition and manage multiple monsters at the table.
Warden. Wardens are iron-willed protectors that refuse to give an inch. To that end, they use their Mark ability to single out enemies for combat, and use their Grasp ability to prevent escape. Play a warden if you want to be a tough-to-kill warrior with a focus on crowd control.
Warmage. The undisputed masters of cantrips, warmages turn the most humble spells into deadly weapons via an array of tricks. Play a warmage if you want to be a high-damage spellcaster with deep customization and few spells to learn.
Witch. Afflicted by a sinister curse, witches can spin dark magic into hexes, which they use to disable foes. They are also accompanied by their familiars, loyal magical companions which they use to deal the killing blow. Play a witch if you want to cripple your enemies and cackle while doing so.
What Else is in the Book?
This book is absolutely massive. Let’s flip through some of the other chapters in rapid succession:
Races. Spire of Secrets comes with five brand new races, plus even more Near Human variants to complement the set presented in Dark Matter. We're even doing miniatures for all of the new races! Have you ever wanted to play a teddy bear person or a mousefolk? Now you can!
Subclasses. Spire has 6 subclasses for each and every base class in core. Yes, you too can play a Spider Man rogue or a warlock whose patron is literally the GM.
Customization. This chapter has 50+ new Feats, plus a new character option called Aux Levels, which are one-level classes that let you get really creative with your character builds. It also has a set of free Starter Feats which the GM can allow at 1st level, opening up the game to types of characters never playable before.
Equipment. Arsenals of exotic weapons, guns throughout the ages, switch weapons (think Bloodborne), and suits of exotic armor. It’s enough to keep a craftsman busy for ages! Then the chapter caps off with a HUGE selection of magic items, including random loot tables.
Spells. Just a few (read: 130+) new spells! Have you wanted a competent set of Chronomancy spells? What about a set of spells that you can use in settings with guns? This book has more magic than you can shake a stick at, plus all the spell lists you need to play them properly.
There’s even more content in the book's lengthy appendices, but that’s a subject for another day.
- - -
I'm extremely excited for this book, and I hope you are too. Though I wish you already had Dark Matter in your hands, Valda's Spire of Secrets is going to be an incredible new addition to 5e that is hard to pass up.
If you have any questions, I'd love to answer them in the comments below!
Shipping Update and a Short Postmortem
2 months ago
– Mon, Aug 09, 2021 at 09:07:07 PM
I finally have an update for you on shipping information, and it’s not terribly good.
Tl;DR: We are receiving the freight of all Dark Matter stuff on September 24th, after which it will take some time to ship out to you individually.
In this post, I’ll do a brief postmortem on where this delay came from and how we’re proceeding. But before all that, I want to apologize. This delay was avoidable, and it’s ultimately my fault. I’m doing everything in my power to get to you everything you purchased as fast as possible and ensure delays like this never happen again.
A Little Background
Mage Hand Press is mostly just two people and a handful of extraordinary talented artists. I do the writing, editing, team management, product design, and graphic design, and my partner Justin handles the social media, coordination with media folks like streamers and YouTubers, and logistics for conventions. In short, we wear a lot of hats.
For Kickstarters like this one, we split the complicated business of getting you physical products into two halves, manufacturing and distribution, with myself handling the former and Justin handling the latter. Neither of us are experts in these areas, but we’re been fortunate enough to work with some superb companies along the way.
Some of you might be interested to see exactly how this timeline rolled out. Since this is a short biopsy, it will also help to lay everything out in chronological order.
April: The project was finished and ready to go to manufacturing. This means that all the tinkering -- adjusting box sizes, changing page numbers, fixing strange file problems -- was over and we just had to do one final proof.
May: We got our final manufacturing proofs in, and things looked off. Some of the colors were way too dark, others were too red. The book was entirely readable, and some parts looked even better with the higher contrast, but we’ve printed this book before: we know how it should look. In short order, I sent a list of changes back to the manufacturer, who got into a fight with the factory. Apparently, the factory was 100% ready to print and unwilling to make any changes. This argument went back and forth, but I ultimately won out: they made some adjustments and sent me another set of proofs. Every step here took much longer than you might guess: the factory had to take us off the manufacturing queue and put us back on, so it was June when I finally got some adjusted manufacturing proofs and we were back on track for manufacturing.
This was a big delay, it was entirely my fault, and I’d do it again. Making a fine product is my top priority, and I’ll always accept delays in manufacturing if it means you get a better product in your hands.
June: Manufacturing resolved and the task changed hands from me to Justin. It was time to get the books across the ocean, to our warehouse, and then out to you. In the meantime, I placed my focus entirely on finishing our next book -- we’ll talk more about that at the end.
July: June came and went. Justin was “on it” and the books were “getting shipped.” No concrete delays, but no concrete estimates either. I knew that the state of shipping from China to the US was fraught this year, so I gave Justin room to do his job.
When the end of July arrived without concrete dates, I started to get worried. It was approaching eight weeks and I had paid a princely sum to ship our books, but the word from Justin hadn’t changed. No concrete dates.
August: We finally got a concrete date on our shipment: they’re shipping from China now, at the beginning of August for an estimated arrival in the states on September 24th.
What Went Wrong?
In short, complications came up with arranging shipments and Justin failed to reach out for help.
It’s time to acknowledge that this is a full time job for me and a part time one for Justin. He works full time, comes home, and slaves away at some of the least fun stuff required to run this business: twitter, marketing strategy, legal stuff. To be as generous as possible, the complexities of arranging international freight shipping, combined with the language barrier, our products taking up two shipping containers, and the late hours of Chinese emails (business hours and all that), tripped him up substantially.
To fix this going forward, we’re bringing new people on the team to manage the workload and hiring a logistics expert for distribution.
I accept full responsibility for this delay. I should have pushed for more concrete details on the distribution side and ensured there was more transparency between our spheres of labor. Furthermore, I should have made sure -- made as sure as humanly possible -- that the information I passed along to you was watertight. The timelines I passed along were based on quotes, not actual shipping estimates, which means that I gave you wrong information. I endeavor to only make promises and estimates that I’m confident in, so this whole distribution thing sits very badly with me.
Your books will be in your hands in October or November, depending on how long it takes for all the packages to leave our warehouse. There is no magic spell to accelerate container ships or freight trains.
However, I have not sat idle in the last six months. I have a titanic new book on the horizon, Valda’s Spire of Secrets, a 380-page titan of a D&D expansion that works with every campaign setting (especially Dark Matter.) In light of this shipping delay, I considered stomping on the brakes and pushing it back until everyone has their Dark Matter books completely in their hands -- until early next year, if necessary. However, a good friend and Kickstarter expert has convinced me otherwise. Our upcoming Kickstarter launches on the 31st of this month, and I’ll be telling you more about it soon.
I want to thank you for your patience and apologize again for the delay. You deserve better communication and better service, and our tiny company will BE better at those things going forward. I can’t wait until you get this book in your hands and you can see everything else we’ve been working on. Expect more updates soon.
Roll20 is Done!
3 months ago
– Fri, Jul 09, 2021 at 07:39:01 PM
Short update: The parade of delays is finally over and your Roll20 code is live in BackerKit! If you ordered the Roll20 module, go to https://dark-matter.backerkit.com/ to get your code and redeem it at https://marketplace.roll20.net/coupon/