Tales From the Magician's Skull is a printed fantasy magazine dedicated to presenting all-new sword-and-sorcery fiction by the finest modern crafters in the genre. These stories are the real thing, crammed with sword-swinging action, dark sorceries, dread, and ferocious monsters -- and they hurtle forward at a headlong pace.
Issue #1 is complete and ready for printing. It is brimming with 72 pages and contains 7 stories, each featuring a full page black-and-white illustration. When appropriate to the tale, maps to terrifying tombs and sinister lairs are included as well. Each story has been written, edited, illustrated, and laid out in classic pulp magazine format. A bonus section translates elements from each story - creatures, magic items, and more - into Dungeon Crawl Classics game terms.
Issue #1 features fiction by James Enge, John C. Hocking, Howard Andrew Jones, Aeryn Rudel, Bill Ward, C. L. Werner, and Chris Willrich. The magazine is edited by Howard Andrew Jones and published by Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games, with layout by Lester B. Portly.
Each story is lovingly illustrated by industry stalwarts, and issue #1 features art by Jennell Jaquays, Doug Kovacs, Willam McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Ian Miller, Russ Nicholson, and Stefan Poag.
This Kickstarter funds the print publication of the first and second issues. Depending on pledge level, backers will receive their issues shipped to them in physical form. There is also an option for PDF delivery.
Issue #2 will be published in mid-2018 and is currently in production.
Here are the stories in the first issue:
What Lies in Ice, by Chris Willrich
It seemed a simple matter – all they had to do was outrun the iceberg. Except that the iceberg followed after, from time to time sending severed hands scrabbling onto their deck to choke the life from them. If they were to survive, Gaunt and Bone and their comrades would have to brave the depths of the iceberg, where the tower of a power-mad wizard had been entombed for millennia.
It would require all the razor-honed skills at their disposal to infiltrate the ice and confront the horrific sentience that yet survived. And some of them wouldn’t be getting out alive…
The Guild of Silent Men, by James Enge
They came for Morlock at dusk, for aid with a grim and terrible problem. A guildsman had killed his opponent then slain himself with multiple knife wounds, his face frozen in a rictus of horror.
Others might have judged the case open and closed, but Morlock soon began to suspect other hands had been involved. Worse, the deeper his investigation went, the more he was certain he himself was in deadly peril.
Beneath the Bay of Black Waters, by Bill Ward
When Commissioner Shan and General Bao set out to destroy the cutthroats behind the addictive and deadly Black Pearls, they knew they’d be challenged at every turn. But they could never have known the terrible discoveries that lay before them, or guessed at what lurked beneath the waves. Soon they were locked in a savage fight for the soul of their city, two men in retreat with a bedraggled guard force against hordes upon hordes of creatures from the deep…
Beyond the Block, by Aeryn Rudel
Matthias had but one morning left him, and it would end with a blow from the headman’s axe. He’d fought to free his sister and dethrone a sorcerous tyrant, but he was outnumbered and alone.
And then his sister’s agents offered him a choice. They couldn’t get him past the guards, but they knew a way he could seek his vengeance. So long as he didn’t mind waiting until after his date with the chopping block…
Crypt of Stars, by Howard Andrew Jones
The Dervan Empire pecked at the sun blasted rocks with an army of slaves, determined to recover the fabled wealth of Volanus. Secure in their power, they worried only about delays. Even if they’d known that the last great general of Volanus was alive and free, why should they fear Hanuvar Cabera? He had no armies left him. What could a single man hope to accomplish against an entire garrison?
But then they had never reckoned with the secrets held within the crypt of stars.
There Was an Old Fat Spider, by C. L. Werner
Karl didn’t want much – just enough coin to purchase a bed each night, just a little luck so that his animal traps weren’t spoiled. Once he’d been a skilled carver with connections to royalty. Now he was a vagabond trapper. Mocked, bullied, and abused by the townsfolk, even the woman he loved could barely stand the sight of him.
And then a chance encounter led him to a dark, webbed grove, where he found a gruesome ally and began to hatch a sinister plan…
The Crystal Sickle’s Harvest, by John C. Hocking
The King’s Hand was the king’s most feared agent, the grim troubleshooter dispatched when subtlety and speed were paramount. It seemed like his apprentice Benhus might finally be able to prove his worth when the two discovered someone had crept into the royal cemetery.
But they quickly learned that they faced no common grave robbers. For someone had broken into the crypt of the king’s sister, a woman whispered to have mastered the darkest of arts…
This is a small detail, but we think it's important. The early issues of pulp literature occasionally included illustrated maps and diagrams to help the reader understand the fantastic places being explored by pulp heroes.
Tales From the Magician's Skull does the same. Doug Kovacs, famous for his fantastically illustrated maps in the role-playing-game space, has provided illuminated maps to explain some of the stories' locations.
Most of the pledge levels are self-explanatory - either print or PDF editions.
One pledge level in particular is worth additional detail. The Legion of the Skull level is your chance to contribute to the greater community of sword-and-sorcery fans. We invite you to read more about this pledge level here!
Here's all the stuff you get at the Legion of the Skull level:
At a base funding level, this Kickstarter funds the print publication of issues # 1 and #2 of Tales From the Magician's Skull. If funding achieves certain levels, we may be able to invest even further in the product as follows!
STRETCH GOAL CLEARED! If funding exceeds $25,000, we will print issue #1 on textured, tan-colored paper stock that will have a "weathered pulp feel." If you're a collector who owns pulp magazines from the classic era, you'll know the effect we're going for.
Learn More About the Guys Behind This
At Gen Con 2017, publisher Joseph Goodman held his annual seminar "What's New With Goodman Games." Magazine editor Howard Andrew Jones stopped by to discuss this project! This is a great chance to hear the inspirations behind the project and learn more about what you can expect. You can view the video here - Howard appears at about 9:00 in.
Physical copies will be shipped as they are ready. We anticipate issue #1 shipping in January 2018 and issue #2 shipping in July 2018.
When you make your pledge, shipping charges will be applied. They are as follows:
USA: $5 for issue #1, $10 for issue #1 and #2
Canada, UK, and EU: $8 for issue #1, $16 for issues #1 and #2
New Zealand and Australia: $12 for issue #1, $24 for issues #1 and #2
Rest of world: $20 for issue #1, $30 for issues #1 and #2
Tell Me About Issue #2
We have already commissioned cover art, shown below. This cover is by Diesel LaForce, known for his early work on Dungeons & Dragons (including his classic illustrations in B2: The Keep on the Borderlands). We are in the process of lining up a suite of excellent authors with stories just as good as issue #1! You can check out this recent update to read more about what's in issue #2.
What About Future Issues?
We certainly hope to publish more! If these first two issues do well we would anticipate adopting a regular publication schedule.
Game Statistics for DCC RPG
Goodman Games is the publisher of this magazine, and also the published of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game, also called DCC RPG. Tales From the Magician's Skull will include a short appendix at the end of each issue with DCC RPG game statistics for the monsters, non-player characters, and magic items that appear in the stories. The inimitable Terry Olson has provided the DCC RPG stats.
A Closing Word From The Skull
Risks and challenges
Goodman Games has run and fulfilled more than a dozen Kickstarters, and published more than 200 RPG titles. If anything the only risk we anticipate is delays if the stretch goals become more awesome!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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