Layout Greavings

Hi everybody,

I thought I pass along the current state of affairs with our journey to a printed book. Tedious, to say the least. Last night, I received yet another rejection of the print files from RPGNow. The cover has now been accepted – which is a good thing. Unfortunately, the latest info that was passed along by the system will result in a rather unexpected work-over.

To sum it up, these changes had to be done in the first two reviews:

  • Change the color to 240% CMYK ink limit for all graphics.
    No biggie. Spend some time recoloring and reformatting and this can be done in a reasonable amount of time. As a side effect, the graphics will also appear brighter in the finished product.
  • Recalculate bleed areas
    The bleed areas for LS need to be “exactly” and I really do mean “exactly” 3mm (0.125″) or they will not process the book files. Again, no biggie. This can be corrected rather quickly and the next export (after half an hour or so) will show the expected results.




  • Remove any graphics between content area and page border
    This is bad! LS refuses prints that have content outside the safe area. Even if I am willing to take the risk of clipping effects, the printer will not go through with the run. This means significant changes to the layout that is currently used in the PDF. The following changes will have to be implemented for the printed book:

    • Page number icons move up by 1″, thereby forcing changes to the page layouts. There is now less room for content, so some pages that carry a lot of information will need to be rearranged. In a few cases this means inserting a new page which propagates changes to all upcoming content.
    • Decorative corners will need to be dropped as they occupy the space between content area and page border.
    • The same goes for page tabs
      Those nifty little tabs that tell you where you are when quickly browsing the book are a no-go. Same goes for the hints that appear on some pages.

After successfully completing print runs with other companies, I must say that Lightning Source – the official printer for RPGNow – has the most restrictive policies regarding document conformity. When I can understand that over ink is an issue that arises with certain printing techniques, it is not really understandable why they would refuse decorative content which is expected to display some planned clipping in the final product. But here goes nothing….

In order to keep the document bases in line, the above outlined changes will also take effect in the PDF-files once the preflight goes through at the printer. After all, a printed book is the objective here! And I am still 100% certain that once it’s done, it is going to be a really nice book to have.


Back to the cutting room !

Color Coded Templates

While the wait continues for the Lightning Source (woefully not lightning fast) file validation for the printed book, there was some time to return to the gaming table and update a whole bunch of cards. Some critters and forces that I had been using for play testing sessions were printed on older templates and some now even had wrong values.

Let’s remember that Bladestorm Second Edition does away with unit savings, so all the unit cards now have a higher total point cost.

After all the new cards were printed and laminated, I turned to mark the finished cards with a little colored sticker in the top right corner to distinguish different kinds of forces. Naturally, my seemingly endless source of stickers was finally depleted. That sparked an idea that had been rolling around for some time. Now that we have these nifty forms, why not make them color coded in the first place? Said and done!

New templates with a RED, GREEN and BLUE tinted background can be downloaded at RPGNow!

Bladestorm Combatant, Unit and Vehicle Templates RED

Bladestorm Combatant, Unit and Vehicle Templates GREEN

Bladestorm Combatant, Unit and Vehicle Templates BLUE




Print-On-Demand underway

Thumbs up! The release went by smoothly albeit some nudges here and there with file names and category selections. Shortly after the files were available, work has started on the printed version of Second Edition. The spiral bound book I am showing off in the release thread has only been a “localized” test. A pre-alpha so to say. I had to reformat the source files to DIN A4 and sent them to an internet print service. Finally a way to hold the finished work in hands. Their print results are top notch but it also posted me with some troubles that would arise once I setup the printing title with RPGNow.

Some picture areas of the book were quite dark. This is a common effect when printing something that has been prepared in RGB colors. Printers use the CMYK color profile and converting from RGB to CMYK will result in a darkening effect. To some extent you can plan ahead and expect this effect with a brighter toned picture. Unfortunately, there is another effect called “overink”.

Today’s number is “240”!

240% is the total amount of ink RPGNow – or better, their printer Lightning Source – demand to be present in a preflight document. Since the colors CYAN, MAGENTA, YELLOW and black  (KEY-plate) get layered during printing, having too much ink in one spot may blur or result in smudges. The common color profiles bring 300% to the table and colors look rich, you don’t care. Once you apply a color filter you can identify those areas which are subject to an “overink” effect. The trick is now to desaturate the black colors while trying to stay as true as possible to the original image. That happened.

It took a couple of long nights to reformat the print sources and do a bunch of conversions. With all requirements in place, exporting the preflight document now takes up to half an hour on a quad core. The finished pdf is clocking in at 250MB!

With the initial conversions out of the way, I am happy to announce that the files are now off to the printer for validation. How long that will take, I cannot tell. The internets knows of anything from two to three weeks for files to process. Even then, it might get rejected and further changes might be required. For now, we’re good.

I will keep you posted 😉


Bladestorm Second Edition Released

After months of planning, lots of work and seemingly endless rewrites and corrections, I am proud and happy to announce the official release of Bladestorm Second Edition. The new Rulesbook as well as tools and game aides are available for purchase and as free downloads at RPGNow.

1. Core Book
Bladestorm Rulesbook Second Edition

2. Tools
Bladestorm Calculator (Heavily expanded and now a free product)

3. Game Aides
Archetype PictureCards

Profession Cards

Combatant and Unit Templates (English)

Kämpfer und Einheitenvorlagen (German)

If you are not sure what kind of game you are getting into, you can always grab a copy of the Quick-Start Rules which introduce the mechanics of the game and include a quick entry level scenario. With the Bladestorm Calculator now being a free product, you can also setup melee encounters between any type of adversaries. If you want to get more – and there is A LOT – the complete Rulesbook is the definite way to exciting tabletop battles!

Now there is one more thing…

With the original electronic publication completed, we are now looking at the next step forward. Following a phase of little nudges here and there (some typos may be found even though we stayed as vigilant as the auto correction) we are planning to bring Bladestorm Second Edition to you also as a Print-On-Demand publication. To my great pleasure, mail today arrived in perfect timing.


The production files have passed their first test run at the printer and are looking simply awesome! BS2E actually turned out to be quite a big book. Now if you’re a looking for the right hardware to go along with your digital files, stay tuned…there is more to come!


Release Countdown – 1 Day

Friday!! Not as in “Friday Night Firefight” but Friday nonetheless and we have less than 24 hours until lift off. The last days went by smoothly with everything in place and ready for the release. By Murphy’s law or any theater or performance experience that should worry me. So, unless something goes haywire in the very last minute we should be good to go.

Right now, the Downloads area of the website is still empty. Once the files have gone online, I will post links there. Of course, any future material that we wish to share on an official basis will also find it’s home there and/or on RPGNow.

Yup! That leaves me with nothing  else to do but wish you a great last day of the week !!!


Release Countdown – 2 Days

Look out!! The weekend is on the horizon! It’s Thursday and only two days to go until the launch of Second Edition.


So far, I’ve been talking about the logistics of the release … and they are very important. But in today’s post I want to talk about some actual game content that has changed in the new release. Yesterday, I was asked if the actual Bladestorms – the swirling masses of weapons and debris that lend the game its original title – were going to change or getting dropped from the game altogether. I’ve heard numerous times in the past year that the rules that work them into the system were poorly received.

But like it or not, the Bladestorms are very much an integral part of Folenn. I believe just doing away with them would not do the spirit of the game justice. They are canon throughout all Shadow World Master Atlases ever put out by Terry K. Amthor and yes, they do play a role for Folenn.

This role has changed a bit with the new release. In the Campaign Scenarios of BS2E, Bladestorms are a source for fallen treasures and artifacts from battles long gone. These treasures – in part dating back to the Soul Slayer Armies – can be anything from a candle stick to a mighty sword of ogre decapitation (aka slaying weapons). Word of these unclaimed treasures has spread throughout Folenn and beyond to Jaiman and Emer. Today, treasure hunters and mavericks come to the wild continent in search of these mighty artifacts.

There are ten new scenarios that explore locations up and down the western coast, where adventure parties can fight over these treasures (and there are some really tricky situations waiting). Bladestorms can happen, but their rules have been trimmed down quite a lot. Once they appear, they will still end the battle in a matter of turns, however the different storm types and especially the magic spells that summon them (which were never part of any Rolemaster realm of magic), were dropped. Got a Bladestorm incoming? Better get your party out of there!

Release Countdown – 3 Days

Good morning everybody! The product and support material files have been uploaded or await their upload and pruning RPGNow has concluded. Right now we are in the process of getting the publisher blurb (what a great word) finalized and distributed. Thanks go out to ICE who will do some cross-referencing for us. Also, I never did a press release before so learning the mechanics behind that is a nice treat =)

All in all, we’re looking good and parts are falling in their designated places. It does feel like putting a big digital puzzle together.

Once we cross the line into October 14th, the new material will go live automatically and people who have previously downloaded support material will be notified about the availability of updated files. Gotta love the internets.

Go-Go-Go 3 Days!!!


Release Countdown – 4 Days

Let the days roll in! Can you believe it’s already Tuesday? This has been another late night. If you have been sticking around RPGNow and checked the MX product portfolio lately, you might have by chance discovered that all supportive material except the Quick-Start Rules has vanished.

Interestingly enough the titles were still available for search for a while until the RPGNow database had updated itself and declared them gone for good 😉

We pulled the files because they have been around since day one and are now way overdue for an overhaul. Right now we are in the process of assembling new pdf-packages. The material will be back together with the release of the new Rulesbook. Four days to go!!


Look out for:

  • Brand new English and German pdf-templates for combatants, units and *new* vehicles
  • Profession Cards that can be assigned to any combatant to declare a hero with special abilities
  • Profession Archetypes that can be played right out-of-the-box
  • A completely remodeled and expanded Bladestorm Calculator

Let’s get to work!

Release Countdown – 5 Days

After months of work and the tabletop way of test-driven-development, I proudly announce the beginning of release week and the countdown to Bladestorm Second Edition. We will use this week to get the last gremlins worked out of all accompanying material and setup the logistics with our publisher RPGNow.

The official release date is October 14th 2016.

While more information becomes available I will make sure to post the latest tidbits here and on our new homepage:


New Website Operational


Welcome everybody! You have just arrived at the new official Metal Express website for the Bladestorm tabletop game.

As we are fast approaching  the release of Bladestorm Second Edition, MX is proud to present a brand new website dedicated to bring all information together in one place. While we continue to grow the site and we will make sure that all information shared here will also be mirrored at our facebook-page:

Last but not least, we have a new forum up and running. So come on in and share your adventures.  The doors are open!

Any questions? Ask the team =)