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Saddle-stitched printing going away

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Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

I learned last night that Lightning Source, the company DriveThruRPG uses to do its print on demand printing, is discontinuing their offering of saddle stitch binding begining March 1, 2021.  They have decided that it is not economically viable for them to continue to provide this option.  This is the binding format we've been using for the Frontier Explorer since we started that gives us the old-school staples in the middle look and allows us to occasionally put pages in the middle you can pull out of the printed magazine.

So what does this mean?

First, if you just get the magazine digitally, there will be zero impact.

Second, going forward, all print versions of new issues of the Frontier Explorer will be perfect bound (like a paperback novel/hardback book).  That's the only option we will have.  Starting with issue 31 (coming out next week) we will be building the magazine for that format.  The truth is we haven't taken advantage of the saddle stitched binding for several years; we very rarely have anything that requires a two page spread.  So while this will impact my production of each issue slightly, it won't really affect your use of the printed version if you get them other than it might be a bit harder to get them to lay flat.  For those few back issues that did have a center spread, it will unfortuantely no longer be usable as we had originally intended.

Third, I'm going to try to get the print files updated for all of the back issues to the new format.  The existing files won't work.  If you try to order them, Lightning Source will supposedly reject the order.  It's not clear yet exactly how that will work.  And to be fair, it's actually just the cover files that I need to update, the interior files are fine.  Luckily, the issues are almost all the same size so it should be a fairly straightforward process (and fairly quick) to make the new files.  The trick will be if DTRPG makes me buy new print proofs for every back issue.  With 30 back issues plus the two technical manuals, that will cost a small chunk of change (~$200-250) and take some time.  I'm going to try to get this all done before March 1st, but if I don't, some back issues of the magazine will not be available with a POD option for a while.

Fourth, I may revisit the magazine size.  We have always kept it at 48 pages maximum since going any large pushed us out of saddle-stitched and into perfect bound.  Since we are going there anyway, we no longer have that size limit.  I don't think I'll raise the page count, as that means more editing work for each issue, but it also means that I don't have quite the hard cap and if I go a bit over, it's not the end of the world.  We'll see where this takes us over the course of the coming issues.

The bottom line is that if you want print copies in the saddle-stitched binding, you have until Feb 28th to get your order in.  And I'd recommend getting it in a bit earilier than that as I don't know how they will handle the transition.  I assume they'll accept orders up to that date and fulfill them into March (it takes up to 2 weeks after you place the order for it to get printed and ship), but who knows. In any case, the winds of change are blowing and there isn't anything we can do about it, we just need to roll with it and move forward.

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Frontier Explorer - Issue 30 Now Available

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Hello Explorers!

Welcome to issue 30 of the Frontier Explorer!  You can get it here on the website or over at DriveThruRPG. This issue introduces two new authors RJ McDonough and Oscar Rios.  RJ talks about the “Art of the Crossover” and bringing outside resources into your game while Oscar gives us a couple of new equipment articles, one on needler weapons and a second on restraints.

This issue brings back our “Frontier in Miniature” series looking at miniatures for use in your game.  This time, Tom Verreault kit-bashes some computers and transmitter arrays as terrain pieces.  We already have a couple more miniature articles in the queue so you can expect to see more of these in the future.  We are also continuing the “An Alternate Frontier” series by Richard Farris with a look at gyrojet weapons.

I thought we would be wrapping up the “Things That Go Boom!” series by Joseph Cabadas in this issue but while I was doing the editing,  he submitted another that you can look for in the next issue.

Rounding out the issue we have a pair of spaceship articles by Richard “Shadow Shack” Rose, a short adventure, some new species, and a look at food trucks in the Frontier by Tom Verreault, and a look at handling random creature encounters and an article on protective gear by Joseph Cabadas.  Finally, we have our regular Jurak Hangna article by Eric Winsor and the comics by Scott Mulder.

The full article list is:

  • Scouting Yacht
  • Surplus Assault Scout Hull
  • A Death in Port
  • To Boldy Expand the Frontier
  • The Art of The Crossover
  • Handling Random Creature
  • Encounters
  • Emitter Arrays & Comm Dishes
  • Anakalypto
  • Titan Rising: 2299 #23
  • Disarming Things That Go Boom!
  • Gyrojet Weapons – “Hissers”
  • Pimp My Needler
  • New Protective Equipment
  • Personal Restraints
  • Food Trucks in The Frontier
  • Escape Run Comic #8

Grab your copy, sit back, and enjoy. And as always, keep exploring!

 

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Issue 29 Now Available

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Hello Explorers!

Welcome to issue 29 of the Frontier Explorer. You can grab it here on the

website or at DriveThruRPG. We kick off the issue with a new ship by a new author, Shawn Starky, detailing a small hull size 4 freighter. We are also introducing a new series, “An Alternate Frontier,” by another new author, Richard “GreyMyst” Farris. The first article, Electrochemical Slugthrowers, looks basic projectile weap-ons and provides a variety of new models.  Future articles will look at other weapons and develop his version of an alternate Frontier.

We again have two more installments of the “Things that go Boom!” series, which should wrap up with a final article next issue.  This time we’re looking at dropped ordinance – bombs.

We round out the issue with our usual comics, another article from Jurak Hangna, a look at the Battle of Zebulon, a book review, and a new bit of equipment from the Minzi Marketplace.

 The full article list is:

  • Pah’Thas – Hull Size 4 Freighter
  • Things that go Boom 7 – Looking at Dropped Weapons
  • Knight Hawk Scenarios: Battle of Zebulon
  • Percival's Legacy!
  • Titian Rising: 2299
  • In the Minzii Marketplace: Inertia Umbrella
  • Electrochemical Slugthrowers – Sluggers
  • Book Review: Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide
  • Things that go Boom 8 – More Bombs, Targeting, and Aerial Drop Systems

Grab your copy, sit back, and enjoy. And as always, keep exploring!

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Issue 28 Now Available

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Hello Explorers!

Issue 28 of the Frontier Explorer is now available. You can grab it here on the magazine website or at DriveThruRPG. In this issue we have a grab back of articles including more installments of the Things That Go Boom! series, this time on landmines, a new, optional ruleset for combat and actions, a look back at an old Star Frontiers Choose Your Own Adventure book, and a review of a White Star module.

A fun item is this issue is our Create a Character Codex by Aaron O’Brian. This table lets you roll a few dice and get a quick random character concept. Aaron and Brian Phongluangtham went to town drawing a bunch of characters generated from the codex when Aaron first posted. Several of their images are featured with the codex in this issue.

We round out the issue with a look at whips, our regular Jurak Hangna article, and our comics. The full article list is:

  • New Combat Rules and Action Economy
  • Things That Go Boom! 5: Don’t Step on Landmines
  • Evaluating Villains of Volturnus for Canonicity
  • Create a Character Codex
  • Titan Rising: 2299 – Episode 21
  • Peril at the Pod Auction
  • Two Seconds With a Slurker
  • Things That Go Boom! 6: More on Landmines
  • Whip it Good!
  • Escape Plan #6

Grab your copy, sit back, and enjoy. And as always, keep exploring!

 

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Issue 27 Now Available

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Hello Explorers!

Welcome to issue 27 of the Frontier Explorer.  You can grab it here on the website or from DriveThruRPG. Our new author in this issue is Jerry Boucher, who also drew the absolutely amazing cover image for the issue.  The cover is a callback, albeit from the sathar side, of the classic Elmore painting that graces the cover of the original rules.  His article looks at the construction and use of the sathar weapons.

In addition to Jerry’s article, we have the continuation of the Thing’s That Go Boom series with a look at the demolitions skill and the various explosives available in the Frontier.  We also continue our support for Traveller with an adventure for that game system that has its roots in a sample adventure in the Star Frontiers rules.

We round out the issue with a visit by Jurak Hangna to Lossend for a safari, information on remote weapons systems, some vruskian melee weapons, a look at Spacefleet’s organization, paper minis for the core four PC races, and our usual comics.

The full article list is:

  • Reorganizing Space Fleet
  • Sathar Weapons
  • Things that go Boom Part 3: Expanding the Demolitions Skill
  • Jurak’s Timeon Safari Grazelle Hunt
  • The Hepplewhite Disaster
  • Titian Rising: 2299 #20
  • How Does It Work?  Remote Weapon Systems
  • Brass Balls for a Vrusk
  • Things that go Boom! Part 4: More Explosives in the Frontier
  • Player Character Color Minis
  • Escape Run #5

Grab your copy, sit back, and enjoy.  And as always, keep exploring!

 

Tom Stephens's picture

Issue 26 Now Available

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Hello Explorers!

Issue 26 of the Frontier Explorer is now available.  You can grab it here on the website for from DriveThruRPG.  This is a more typical grab-bag issue with no particular theme, although it definitely leans heavily to the weapons and equipment direction.  We have articles by two new authors this issue: Nick Landry and John Blaylock, with articles on portable power sources and energy weapons, respectively.  I think we can expect to see more articles from them in the future.

We are also starting a run of articles, under the heading of “Things that go Boom!”, by Joseph Cabadas.  This issue contains the first two articles, about grenades and missiles.  This series will run with a couple of articles in each issue for the next year or so.  I believe there are currently eight articles total in the publication queue and he’s working on a ninth.  So you can expect a lot of explosions in the future.

Another first for this issue is articles for the Traveller game system.  Richard “Shadow Shack” Rose has picked up the game again recently and takes us on a trip down memory lane from when he was a player in the 80’s and also provides an introductory article on the various career options during character generation in that game system for those of us who have never played the game.

We round out the issue with a couple of “How does it work?” articles on Yazirian gliding (that got bumped from last issue due to space constraints) and exoskeletons, a fluff article detailing a phonetic alphabet for the Frontier, our usual Jurak Hangna article, and deck plans for a pirate frigate.

The full article list is:

  • They Call Dralasites Delta Bravos
  • How Does it Work? Yazirian Gliding
  • Introduction to Traveller: Character Service Branches
  • The Volturnian Bowler
  • Introduction to Traveller: Chargen!
  • Things That Go Boom! Grenades
  • Portable Power in The Frontier
  • Titan Rising: 2299 #19
  • Rafflurs and KE Lasers in Alpha Dawn
  • Things That Go Boom! Part2: Looking at Missiles and Rockets
  • How Does it Work? Exoskeletons
  • Black Condor Class Pirate Frigate
  • Grymz Guide Intermission comic

Grab your copy, sit back, and enjoy.  And as always, keep exploring!

Tom Stephens's picture

Issue 25 Now Available

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Hello Explorers!

And welcome to issue 25 of the Frontier Explorer – The Summer of Sathar.  When we put out the call for articles in issue 24, we had so many sathar submissions that we decided to do another issue dedicated to the arch enemy in the Star Frontiers setting.  This issue contains articles covering topics such as sathar biology, vehicles, robots, weapons, creatures, and social structure.  We also have our regular comics and Jurak Hangna creature article.

Our cover image is by Brian Phongluangtham, who also did a bunch of images for the interior of the magazine as well.  The idea for that image came out of a discussion on our Discord server and he did an amazing job.

This issue’s full article list is:

  • Book Review: Polaris Rising
  • More on Satharoid Biology
  • The Fiendish Plot of Sathar Clan X
  • Examining Sathar Robots
  • Sathar Ships in the Frontier
  • Looking at Sathar Vehicles
  • Stalked by Death
  • Variant Quickdeaths
  • Titan Rising: 2299 #18
  • The Sculgo
  • Its Name is Sathar!
  • Whiteheaded Treebouncer
  • Sathar Swarm Tactics
  • Escape Plan #4

Grab your copy (either here on the site or on DriveThruRPG), sit back, and enjoy.  And as always, keep exploring!

- Tom Stephens

 

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Issue 24 Now Available

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Hello Explorers!

Welcome to issue 24 of the Frontier Explorer.  Now that Spacefleet has cleared out the recent sathar incursion, we can start publishing again.

This issue picks up right where we left off including some articles that were ready to go but didn’t make it into issue 23.  All of the usual articles (Jurak Hangna, comics, etc) are here along with articles about derlict spaceships, and some not so derelict ones along with an small mini adventure in our Warriors of White Light 2 series.

The biggest change is that we’ve moved to a new layout and design for the magazine’s cover, logo, and interior.  Let us know what you think about the changes and any suggestions or ideas you might have to make it even better.

This issue continues and strengthens our support for the FrontierSpace RPG in addition to Star Frontiers. Issue 23 had a conversion of the Star Frontier races to FrontierSpace. This issue contains the details of a star system from the FrontierSpace frontier sector as well as stats in the Jurak Hangna creature article for use in that system.

The full article list for this issue is:

  • Frontier News
  • Dark Shadow's Revenge
  • Duergan's Star System
  • Of Lost Ships and Derelicts
  • Exploring a Deserted Spaceship
  • Meet the Crew of the SS Knight Owl
  • Titan Rising: 2299 #17
  • Kdikit Blue Biters
  • Ghostship of the Terran Queen
  • Escape Run #3

Grab your copy today and as always, keep exploring!

(or get it from DriveThruRPG)

Tom Stephens's picture

We're Back!

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The TL;DR. version is that the Frontier Explorer will resume publication in April, one year after the next issue was supposed to come out.  For the long version, read on.

It's been almost a year since WotC contacted me and asked me to suspend work on the fan magazines and remove the remastered products and reprinted Dragon magazine articles.  Since that was all completed in March 2018, there has been radio silence from WotC as they have been busy dealing with other fires and Star Frontiers has been low on their priority list.  That radio silence ended in January.

At that point I informed them of my intention to start the magazine back up and laid out my plans to do so.  I asked them to let me know if there were any issues with my plan and since I haven't heard back from them, I'm considering us good to go.  It's possible they will change their minds but I don't actually see any problems going forward.

So the remaining questions are: "What is going to happen?" and "What can I do to help?"  Here is what I'm planning on doing and ways you can help out if you are interested.

What's going to happen?

First, I've reopened the submission queue.  Our big, gold "Submit New Content" button is back.  The magazine lives and dies on submissions.  If you want to help with the magazine, consider submitting articles, game reports, news items, art, or other material for publication.  I don't think we'll have a problem filling the next issue but we will always need content for future issues.  And as part of this relaunch I'm explicitly widening the scope of the magazine.  It will probably always be heavily slanted towards Star Frontiers.  That is the game near and dear to my and my cofounder (and primary contributor), Tom Verrealt's, heart.  But I want to get submissions from other game systems as well, espeically FrontierSpace.  If you have material that would apply to sci-fi games, regardless of system, consider sharing.

Next, I'll be relisting the magazine issues on DriveThruRPG (and so have restored the link to there in the sidebar as well).  I never deleted them, just made them private so that will be easy to restore and will probably be done by the end of the day.

Nex, I'm planning on updates to the magazine layout.  I don't know if it will happen for the next issue (#24) but I'd like to redesign the layout of the magazine.  I'm not sure how, or to what extent yet, but it's something I'll be looking at as we get the next issue put together.  

As we start things back up, I'm planning on some updates to the website. Right now the site is not mobile friendly and I'd like to fix that at the very least.  I also want to rework some of the pages such as those that display the images, maps, and individual download descriptions. That will be a work in progress over the coming months so you can expect to see changes as we go along. 

Finally, I'd like to get all of the back issues on-line.  Many of the early issues of the magazine are also available in HTML format here on the site.  I want to work on getting the rest of the issues up as well.  And make sure the new articles go up as well.  This is mainly just hours spent creating the pages.  Maybe with a bit of reorganization and reformatting as well. 

What can you do to help?

Production of the magazine takes a lot of work.  There is a reason it is only at most 45 pages of content published every 3 months.  We can always use some help.  If you want to help support the magazine, there are a number of ways you can do so.

First and foremost, download, read, and share each issue, and talk about it on social media.  Help us get the word out and build our readership numbers.  Knowing that people are enjoying our work and talking about it is always a boost to morale.

Second, submit content.  I can't stress this enough.  If we don't have content, we don't have a magazine.  Not everyone feels like they have something to share and that's fine.  But if you do, we'd like to get your ideas out to the community and we'll help you develop the article so it's ready to go.  And remember, anything sci-fi RPG related is fair game, regardless of system.  We do have to respect trademarks and copyrights and while I'm not a lawyer, I do have a degree in library science as have worked as a librarian and am very familiar with the rules and laws.

Closely related to content submission, is editing.  We can always use more help in reviewing and editing content before it's published.  The more people that look at an article, the more errors and misunderstandings are fixed.  Let us know if you want to join the editing staff.

If there are any of the other projects and updates mentioned in the previous section that you would like to be involved in, please let me know.  If you are a graphics designer and would be interested in working on that part of the project, let's talk and can see what we can come up with.  If you are a web developer and want to help with the site upgrade, the site is built on Drupal and I'd be glad for some help.  Or if you're just willing to cut, paste, and format the old articles in the the on-line format, there's plenty of work there as well.

Finally, you can always support the magazine financially.  Web hosting, software, and other tools that we use to create and maintain the magazine and its website are not free.  Having financial resources allows us to do more and do it better.  If you want to help support the magazine financially, there are a number of ways you can do so:

  • For single, one-time donations, just use the Donate button to the left.  That will take you to PayPal where you can make a donation of any amount that you feel comfortable with.
  • All of the issues of the magazine both new and old, are (or will be) listed on DriveThruRPG as "pay-what-you-want" products.  You are more than welcome to download them for free either here on the site or at DTRPG but if you want to give us a "tip" for a specific issue, you can do it that way.
  • Finally, if you want to support each issue on a recurring basis, consider supporting our Patreon campaign. If you become a patron of the magazine, in addition to providing us with support, you get early access to the finished magazine issues, articles as they are completed before publication, and can provide input on articles to publish depending on your support level.  At the highest support level you even get a physical printed copy of the magazine.

Also, anyone who supports the magazine get listed on the Site Supporter page here and certain levels of Patreon support get listed in each issue of the magazine.

So that's the plan at the moment. I'm sure things will evolve as we get into the process so stay tuned for more information in the future.

Tom Stephens's picture

A New Can Of Worms - Session 14

In this session, the PCs fight off the assault on the archeology site by a Galactic Task Force mercenary band and witness a startling display of power from over 50 km away.

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