Mirthful Mike Makes Monday Meetings More Metal…


Mirthful Mike here.

Since Rich is away this week, I’ll be taking over the Monday Meeting.

Since I’ve committed to making things “More Metal”, here is me in my King Diamond costume waaay back in 2001. As you can see, I went with classic 80s King Diamond rather than the later versions. Justin was dressed up as Morrissey and I think Chad went as Fred Durst…

On a sidenote, I’ll be taking my wife to see King Diamond and Exodus for our anniversary this year. I missed Exodus last year as some stupid horse circus backed up traffic and made me an hour late for the show.

Okay, enough shenanigans… time to get to it.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve had a number of commenters asking about the various things that Art Direction entails as it pertains to my weekly bulleted list. So, I figure why not give everyone brief overview of what exactly goes into the Art Direction phase (or why stuff stays in that phase so long).

Keep in mind is that Art Direction covers several points in the process rather than just one. These points break down into the following:

  • Art Notes – As you can probably tell, this is the various art requests from a developer. Art notes can take various forms as sometimes I get a bulleted list of specific scenes while other times I get the unedited text with underlined passages. I will read through the notes, and then decide if the bulleted scene or underlined text works as far making for an exciting scene. If it doesn’t, I’ll modify as needed… usually only means tweaking the scene a little or selecting a more interesting neighboring passage. I very rarely have had to rewrite artnotes completely from scratch or send them back to the developer.
  • Art Budget and Breakdown – Once I have the word counts for each chapter in a book, I will run our equation and figure out how many half page pcs of artwork a chapter requires. Many times I will even take the unedited text and do a roughed in layout to make sure that I buy enough artwork and that it’s properly spread apart so there isn’t a glut at one end and nothing at the other.
  • Contracting – This is when I contact various artists, divide up art notes, put together contracts and tax forms, and email that out. This step tends to overlap the previous one as I’ll fire off emails to three or four artists that usually work on a line while I’m still figuring out how much I’ll need.
  • Production Time – The actual time the artist is working on the piece. As a rule, I try to give an artist a minimum of four weeks for an assignment. I will grant additional time if an artist is working on large number of fulls or is illustrating a large number of splats.
  • Sketch Approval  About ten days before artwork is due, sketches are due. This is the latest drop dead date that artists can get the sketches in and still have time finish the artwork by final deadline. Most artists turn in sketches no later than two weeks into the project and those are usually approved with only minor tweaks. Once they have approval from me, they are clear to commence work on the finals.Assamite

Assamite Ghoul by Kieran Yanner

  • Finals and Approval – Once the final deadline rolls around, the artist will send me their finished artwork… generally as a .tif or .psd file. I will then review the piece and either reqest changes or approve the artwork.

mage-2_2a Deflecting Missiles

M20 How Did You Do That? – Missile Deflection by Michael Gaydos

  • CCP Approval – For licensed game lines such as Vampire or Exalted, the artwork must go onto an additional approval process by CCP. They will decide whether or not the artwork passes muster and if not will request changes be made. Most of the time artwork goes through without a hitch, however there will always be exceptions and changes must be made.

By the time all of this has been done… about a month and a half or more has passed. At this point the project proceeds onto the layout and design phase which we will cover in another blog post in the future.

And now the project Round Up

First Draft
  • Cavaliers of Mars
  • BtP Anthology
  • BtP RMCs
  • VtM RMCs
  • WtA Kinfolk
  • C20
  • VtM Lore of the Bloodlines
  • Dark Eras Companion
  • Pugmire Early Access
  • MtC Anthology
  • CtL anthology
  • Ex Novel (Forbeck)
  • MtAs Book of Secrets
  • WtF The Pack
  • CtL 2e
  • Beckett’s Jyhad Diary
  • MtC Rio
  • WtO Wr20 core
Second Draft
  • Dark Eras expansions
  • Ex Realm
  • Ex Dragon-Blooded
  • Ex Arms of the Chosen
  • VtR Secrets of the Covenants
  • MtAs M20 Anthology
  • WoD Hurt Locker
  • WtA Changing Ways
  • Scarred Lands Player’s Guide: Ghelspad
  • WtA Employee Indoctrination Handbook
  • Sardonyx/Storypath
  • MtAw 2e core
  • PtC 2e core
  • DtD Storyteller’s Guide
  • WtA Shattered Dreams
  • VtM Tal’Mahe’Ra/Black Hand
  • VtM Ghouls
Post-Editing Development
  • WoD nWoD 2e core


In Art Direction

  • V20 Ghouls – I think I have most of the art in… having to contact some guys and getting updates.
  • Dreams of Avarice – Sam’s chugging along.
  • NWoD 2 – Leblanc working on the four fill in pcs.
  • Tal Me Rah – AD’d… won’t see sketches until middle of September.
  • W20 Shattered Dreams – Some finals rolling in.
  • V20 Lore of the Clans Expanded Materials– AD’d.
  • Pentex Employee Indoctrination Manual
  • Demon STG –  AD’d.
  • Awakening Second – Looking over notes and contacting artists.
  • Promethean Second – Looking over it at as well… once I’m done with Awakening.

In Layout

  • Lore of the Clans – roughing in the new stuff while art is in progress.
  • Beast – hitting it with a hammer again this week… working on the final chapter and the appendices.


  • M20 How Do You Do That – It’s with Phil.
  • Ex 3 Anthology – Awaiting updated text file.
  • EX 3 UPDATE FROM RICH: Notes from Devs given to Maria late last week, already OK’d a chapter’s worth of changes.
At Press (on Drivethru… or whatever)
  • VDA20 – At press. Couple of fixes on the interior, but otherwise pretty clean.
  • M20 – Trying to straighten out issues with Standard version.
  • M20 Screen – At the Printer. 
  • Dark Eras – Holding pattern.
  • Wraith 20 – Yep… waiting on artnotes

28 thoughts on “Mirthful Mike Makes Monday Meetings More Metal…”

  1. While I think Rich does a fantastic job, can Mirthful Based Mike fill in a bit more from time to time? Those art previews are sweet! : )

    Also, that’s quite the backlog of books/pdfs waiting to be releasing or in limbo. It’s been kind of quiet, recently. Here’s hoping you guys get some more product out there over the next few months.

  2. You guys are killing me.

    I have this horrible dream that everything I’m waiting for will land in the same week, and my finances will be destroyed.

  3. I’m not sure if anyone can answer this with Rich T on well deserved vacation, but I’m not exactly sure what the exalted update means.

    Is one chapter completely done with no need for additional layout changes or has Maria completed one chapters worth of comments from Friday’s dev notes that were given to her?

    Also, is it possible that we might see a kickstarter update? The last one was in June so eager fans have only had one sentence updates for about two months. Is there anything that could be shared or teased? I’m sure it would be very appreciated.

    Thanks for all the hard work. Can’t wait for the finished product.

    • I too was a bit confused about whether this meant a chapters worth of changes had just been finished, or given and would need to be started.

  4. This is the second place I’ve seen the Storypath system referred to by that name, and I think it’s the first time the name’s been used in a Monday Meeting post.

  5. RE: Issues with normal Mage20 book.

    Just split it up into separate volumes. Maybe into separate Books (as per the internal organisation), or have Book 1+2 combined with Book 4 separate (it’s the biggest).

    • The thing that’s being fixed doesn’t relate to the size of the book at all. There was a color issue with some artwork. This is a pretty routine kind of road bump, and is the reason we do physical proofs before making the book live on DriveThruRPG.

    • Holding Pattern is me basically waiting on things to be wrapped up on the writing/development/editing end so that I can then purchase artwork.

  6. It seems like Wraith20 has been waiting on art notes for a long time. Is it just that the book is quite big and therefore requires lots of art notes (then again, I don’t remember M20 being stuck at that stage for so long), or is there some other delay?

    In general I like and appreciate the notes on artwork progress, but it’d be good to get a bit more detail from time to time if there’s an entry which has been stuck at a particular stage for a good long while without any signs of progress.

    • At the moment, Wraith is only in redlines… so it isn’t far enough along for artnotes to be done yet. Once it gets into the Development stage, things will start rolling on the art end of things.

      • As requested during the ks and sweetly pleaded for now please can we see a full page colour piece depicting the epic battle between Charon and Gorool? Please with plasm on top?

        • Im sorry but when I read your comment the following scene popped up in my head:

          an adorable little girl is sitting at a table doodling in a completely white room, a door is behind you and ajar. she lifts up the page as she finishes it, 2 stick figures, each holding a long silver colored stick are facing towards each other, above each is the name “Charon” or “Gorool” zig zags of yellow orange and red outline the bottom of the page and parts of the top, it appears that Charon, who is facing towards the viewer has penciled in a ” >=) ” face. you stare at the girl, whose name so happens to be “plasm” she replies: “its still a rough draft” she giggles as you just stand there dumbfounded, finally after a few moments she begins to lead you out of the room and waves adorably “hope you enjoyed it, bai bai” and quickly closes the door, which disappears in a puff of smoke.

          for your sanity’s sake I hope it isn’t like this right now.

  7. The NWoD 2nd Edition Core was offered as an add-on PDF for Dark Eras. The backer survey still hasn’t gone out (I bothered Rich and Rose about it a couple times but didn’t want to be too big a pain in the @$$).

    I keep watching the book creep up the development chain. How is it going to be being handled for Dark Eras backers?

    • It’ll be handled like we generally do add-ons. We’ll send out the survey, then send the DriveThru coupon to the e-mail address you give us there.


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