Sunday, 28 December 2014

Squarehex Review of 2014

This post is a short review of my gaming business activity for the year. 

In 2014 I ran 5 Kickstarter campaigns. They were all successful, with some making several times the amount set as a funding goal. Kickstarter has helped me build a range of printed pads and notebooks that I am immensely proud of. I cannot think of any better way to fund and market such niche products. All of my Kickstarter projects are carefully planned in advance. I usually set aside about 15% of the funding as a contingency pot for the project, which if not used up then becomes my profit. In the planning stage I look at a vast array of funding outcomes from 100% all the way up to 2000% (20 times the funding goal). My golden rule for Kickstarter is: Only start a new project after all the rewards from the previous one have been posted.

This year I also ran my first pre-order for print run of Isometric Mapping Pads. Although it was not as successful as an equivalent Kickstarter, the pre-orders still accounted for around 30% of the print run. It also allowed a much faster turnaround than a Kickstarter making it ideal for smaller projects.

2014 Kickstarters
  • A4 Numbered Hex Pad
  • A4 & A5 Grid Pads
  • A2 Battlepad
  • A6 Gamer's Notebook
  • A5 Gamer's Notebook

I've taken stands at 6 UK conventions this year. Attending the shows is a great way to reach new customers. They can be hard work, but having done quite a few of them now, I'm finding the preparations for them a lot easier. They are also made a lot easier thanks to the help of my wife, who's assisted me at all of this year's shows. One thing I have found is that it is almost impossible to guess what will and won't sell at a show. We've sold out of an item at one show, and then stocked up for the next one and sold none of that item. Selecting what to take to shows is a very careful balance of what will fit in our small hatchback and what can be merchandised on a 2 metre stand. We tend to overload both the car and the stand.

2014 Shows
  • UK Games Expo
  • Continnum
  • Concrete Cow
  • Dragon Daze
  • Derby World Wargames
  • Dragonmeet

The Squarehex website is something that I would like to have developed further this year. For now though it remains just a basic shop front open to customers from all around the globe. It features all the products created from past Kickstarters and a small selection of games and accessories.

Squarehex as a business started in Spring 2013. Before that I had published issues of Oubliette (first issue was 2010) but that was very much a hobby activity. With Squarehex I planned to run it as a business, but one without any financial pressure to meet a given level of revenue or profit. My hope was that in the first year the business would make enough money to cover the its internet and storage costs. It achieved this with ease and this year it looks set to do better again. The growth of the business has also meant that the stock has moved from a 75 sq' storage unit to a 160 sq' unit.

Whilst the scale of the business is modest, I've still made sure that it is run correctly. For every Kickstarter I keep full accounts detailing income and expenditure along with profit and loss. Every project is also carefully planned and budgeted for. I want to make sure that the business is sustainable, and know from watching other Kickstarters that one poorly planned project can be lethal to a business in the gaming industry.

So that was this year, if I get a chance I'll post a follow-up article in the New Year detailing my plans for 2015. Thank you to everyone that has backed my projects, bought things from the webstore, or from our stand at a show this year. Also look out for the Squarehex January Sale which starts on New Year's Eve.

Monday, 1 December 2014

A5 Gamer's Notebooks Kickstarter is Live!

Following on from my last project to print A6 Gamer's Notebooks, I've now launched a new campaign to fund an A5 version.

The project launched last night and is already 50% funded. Here's a link to it:

Friday, 14 November 2014

Squarehex Free Shipping Weekend

This weekend (actually from now until I wake up on Monday) I'm offering FREE UK shipping on all Squarehex orders over £15. I've also added a few more RPG books and a selection of popular board and card games to the site. To get the free shipping simply enter FREESHIPPING1 at the checkout.
Overseas customers that spend over £15 before shipping will get a manual £2.90 postage refund against their orders and don't need to enter the code.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Gamer's Notebooks Now 20% More Pages

The Gamer's Notebook Kickstarter has just a few hours left to run. In the last 24 hours it hit a major Stretch Goal which adds 10 extra pages to the notebooks making them even better value. The campaign ends at midnight.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Gamer's Notebook Last Day

The Gamer's Notebook Kickstarter has got just 33 hours left to run. It is currently sitting at 438% of the original goal, and less than £100 away from the Extra Pages Stretch Goal. These would make ideal Christmas presents for gaming friends and cost from just £2 (when you buy 10) each with UK delivery. The campaign also includes our very cool "Pencil+1" as an add-on and free with many of the reward levels.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A2 Battlepads now on Sale

The A2 Battlepads from my last Kickstarter have now been added to the site. They can be bought as a single pad of 12 sheets for £6 or in a 2-pack for £10. I've also added the matching Planner Notepads which cost £1 each and come with a sheet of Battlepad joining stickers. The Battlepads are set as UK delivery only due to their size, but Overseas backers are welcome to contact me directly for a shipping quote.

Here's the links to the new listings:

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Draft Mansion Floor Plan

I decided my little adventure (The Fella in the Cella) needed a ground floor mansion floor plan. A quick Google lots of images, so here is one I selected and tweaked a little to suit my purpose. For dungeon maps I often draw them in pen with little or no drafting, but when it comes to building plans with lots of windows and doors, a finished version in pencil is the only way to go. I'll get on with an inked version tonight and try and get it done before I have too many drinks.

Friday, 10 October 2014

B/X Hit Point String Generator

I was toying with putting a Squarehex advert on the back cover of might current little side project, but when I thought of this I decided to move the ad to the inside back cover.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pool of the Titans

This is another map from my current side project. The "Titans" that live in this pool are the sort that bite you, crush you, and then swallow you whole. If you get caught by the lizardfolk that live nearby, chances are you'll end up decked out like a Christmas tree and tied to one of the posts in the bottom right area of the map. The map is drawn on an A6 grid sheet from my Gamer's Notebook Kickstarter campaign.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Fella in the Cellar

This map is from a little project I'm working on this week to promote my Gamer's Notebook Kickstarter. It's drawn on an A6 size sheet (just like the ones that will be in the notebook). Tonight I'll write the notes that go with it on the facing lined page. If I get time they'll be more to follow. The map is by me, and Marg drew the goblin.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Pencil +1 New Magic Item

Little is known about the origins of these strange artifacts. They appear as normal writing instruments, apart from the fact that they are entirely black. Even the wood they are turned from is black to the core.
These are actually one of the Stretch Goals that has unlocked from my Gamer's Notebook Kickstarter campaign.
At £1,800 I will set my Dark Elves the task of producing hundreds of these magic pencils. Each will be marked to avoid getting them mixed up with lesser writing devices. The pencils will be finished in matt black paint and have black lead, a black eraser and a black metal ferrule. I considered printing on them in black as well, but that is a bit too Spinal Tap. Therefore, Pencil +1 will be printed on them in red or orange. 

Backers pledging for 2 or 3 pads will get 1 pencil added to their reward free of charge. 
Backers pledging for 5+ pads or a Bag/Box of Tricks will get 2 pencils added to their reward free of charge.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Gamer's Notebook Campaign is Live!

I've just launched my new campaign to fund a print run of custom designed, hardback notebooks for gamers.

The notebooks will be a compact A6 size (105mm x 148mm) with wiro-binding, thick recycled card covers, and 50 sheets of custom printed paper.

The sheets in the notebooks will be litho-printed in grey on both sides. One side will have a 6mm grid, and the other side will have lines for notes. This will make them an ideal tool for writing game notes and ideas wherever you may be. The notebooks would also make perfect campaign diaries, in which players can collate maps and other essential notes as a game progresses.
The front covers of the notebooks will be left blank allowing you to write your name, campaign title, etc. The back cover will have a logo printed on it at the bottom.

These notebooks would make great Christmas gifts for your gaming friends, and if you opt for a pack of 10, they work out at just £2 each including UK delivery.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

25% off Savage Worlds Charcater Sheets

Until the end of September I'm offering a 25% discount on all Savage Worlds Character Sheet Pads, Cards, and the Explorer Edition Rulebook.

The products included are:

Savage Worlds A5 Character Sheet Pad
Normally £1.90 Price with discount £1.43

Savage Worlds Character Sheet Pad (pack of 4 pads)

Normally £5.90 Price with discount £4.43

Normally £1.90 Price with discount £1.43

Normally £6.90 Price with discount £5.18

To get these prices simply enter the code SavageSeptember (the box for entering the code appears after you sign into Paypal, it applies the discount and then sends you back to the site to confirm the order).

This Saturday Squarehex will have a stand at Dragondaze in Newport. If you mention this offer I'll honour the discount at the show. The mini Savage Worlds Character Sheet Cards are always popular at shows, but they can be difficult to spot on the stand. To help highlight them I've made a super-sized A3 version.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Isometric Pads are in!

My stock of A4 Isometric paper pads arrived today. About 20% of the print run is already sold thanks to the 99p preorder offer. I'll be posting out all the preorders over the next 2 days. If anyone would still like to grab some pads at the 99p price, I'll leave it running for a few more days before the normal price of £2.00 each kicks in.

Here's a link to the product page:

Pads of white paper are very difficult to photograph (especially with a compact camera). However, this close-up shot hopefully shows off the advantages of lithographic printing. The vertical lines appear lighter because they are dotted. They still work as useful guides when drawing, but are less obtrusive on a finished map.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Hall of Fire Cover

Work on my Hall of Fire adventure continues to make steady progress. The map is almost finished, and I've written the first thousand words or so of the text. I've also mocked up a cover that incorporates a Fire Giant which Marg drew for me.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

More Hall of Fire Map Progress

I've done a little more work on the Hall of Fire map today. There are still a few more 3d objects to add and a couple of other features. After that it will just need a key and it will be done. I say done but what it really needs is a few thousand words to make it fit for for purpose. I'd better get writing.

This map and now adventure are to help promote the 99p pre-order offer I'm running on pads of Isometric printed paper. The offer runs until 26th August and may be found here:

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Hall of Fire Work in Progress

I did a little more work on this map today. I now have an inked version ready for scanning, and a few 3d elements that need scanning and then reducing before I add them. Once the map's finished the real work begins writing it up as a B/X adventure.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Hall of Fire

I doodled an isometric map earlier today in the park. It's just a rough pencil drawing for now but I added some grey shading to make it a little clearer. It's effectively a rethink on a Fire Giant lair taking inspiration from G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King.  If I get time tomorrow, I'll produce a neater version in ink and see how it looks once I've scanned it.

I'm running a pre-order at the moment for A4 pads of isometric paper. Until 26th August they are just 99p each. Since I launched the pre-order offer a couple of days ago, I've had a great response and over 10% of the total print run of 250 pads is now sold.

The pre-order page is at:

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Isometric Pad Preorder Offer

The next Squarehex pad of printed mapping paper will be an Isometric Graph Pad. The regular price will be £2.00 for a 30 sheet A4 pad. However, buy them before August 26th and you can get them for just 99p each.  Flat rate shipping in the UK is £2.90.  You may order as many other items as you like along with your preorder but they will only ship when the preordered items are ready. Overseas orders are welcome. Overseas shipping is calculated on the site, but I manually check all overseas orders and refund the difference if it is more than £1 greater than the actual cost.

The sheets in this pad will be litho-printed in light grey, landscape format, and glued to a card backboard. I've used dotted lines for the vertical lines so they are less intrusive. The sides of the triangles are all 7mm which means drawing maps isn't too cramped.

Here's a link to the preorder page:

I'll still be back with another new Kickstarter in the near future, but I wanted to try out a preorder to see what response it gets.  The main advantages it has over a Kickstarter are the faster turnaround (Kickstarter makes you wait over 2 weeks to get the funds after a campaign), and avoiding the 10-12% fees of a Kickstarter.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Battlepad Map - Bridge

This Battlepad map features a river and a wooden bridge. It's a very simple map to draw, but would be great for a quick skirmish game. It's shown here with a Lizardman raiding party about to clash with the local militia. 

The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The campaign has already met its goal and closes Today in less than 4 hours!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Battlepad Map - Mountain Mine

This Battlepad map features a mountain path that leads to a small mine. while drawing it I imagined it to be run by a tough, mean gang of seven dwarves. 

The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The campaign has already met its goal and closes on Monday 30th June so there's just over 24 hours to go!

A2 Battlepad - Mountain Mine

A5 Pencil Plan - Mountain Mine

Friday, 27 June 2014

Battlepad Map - Borderlands Farmstead

This Battlepad map features a Borderlands Farmstead. 

The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The campaign has already met its goal and closes on Monday 30th June.

A2 Battlepad Farmstead

A5 Map Version

Battlepad Map - Dungeon Toll Point

This Battlepad map features a small section of an underground road. The road is blocked in the centre of the map by a cave-in. The only way to get through is by paying a toll to the Hobgoblin unit that have control of the passageway though. The Hobgoblins are highly organised and keep a series of strong steel gates in the area locked until they receive payment. 

The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The campaign has already met its goal and closes on Monday 30th June.

A2 Battlepad Version

A5 Map Version in Pen

A5 Map Version Scanned with Grey Fill

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


I've been taking my daughter to the park a couple of times a week while the UK enjoys what is shaping up to be its best summer in quite a few years. As she plays, I sit quite happily on a bench and scribble gaming notes, ideas, and maps. Some days I come home with very little, but today I was rather pleased with my efforts.  I'll get a few of these worked up in pen and also do some A2 versions over the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, in Kickstarter land the Battlepad project has reached its goal and the 1st Stretch Goal. There's still 5 days to go, so it should easily make the 2nd Stretch Goal (less than £50 to go as I type).

Monday, 23 June 2014

Battlepad Maps PDF

I've released a PayWhatYouWant PDF on to support the A2 Battlepad Kickstarter. Battlepad Maps is a collection of 12 hand-drawn fantasy maps. Two versions of each map are included, one blank, and one with title, scale and numbering added. The maps are ideal for dropping into an existing campaign, and may easily be extended or altered to suit your requirements. Each map is drawn on a 23x16 grid to match theA2 Battlepad sheets.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Battlepad Floorplans - DMG Sample Dungeon

Today's map isn't actually a map but a set of floorplans cut from a couple of A2 battlepad sheets. The dungeon is the sample one from page 95 of the Dungeon Masters Guide. I cut the floorplans just to show another use of the Battlepad sheets. Using them this way is great for creating large dungeons.  The portion of the dungeon shown here is almost 4'x4' so drawing it on a standard Battlemat or even a larger Megamat presents problems. 

The sheets used for the floorplans are currently being funded on Kickstarter.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Battlepad Map - 3D Tower

I drew 2D floorplans for a tower earlier this evening, and then remembered I had some black foamboard off cuts lying around. A short while later, and with the addition of a few lego support columns, my plans were transformed into a 3D version.

The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter.

Battlepad Map - Dunder Road #1

This Battlepad map features a small section of an underground road with many interesting locations. A group of goblins and their pet wolves reside on one side, and, in the caves on the other side, 3 trolls each have a cave. The goblins stay out of the trolls way as much as possible, but will wake them to deal with intruders, and then pay them with a barrel of ale. The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter.

Battle Pad Kickstarter link

Monday, 16 June 2014

Battlepad Planner Notepads

I've added some small (99x210mm) Planner Notepads to the Battlepad Kickstarter. Planner notepads are small (99x210mm) notepads that will be custom printed with a 16x23 grid and lines for notes. This makes them idea for drawing Battlepad maps in small scale in preparation for a game. The Planner Notepads are available as add-ons or by themselves (see new pledge levels on the Kickstarter page).

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Battlepad Map - Church

This Battlepad map features a church with an uninvited visitor. The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter.

Battle Pad Kickstarter link

Battlepad Map - Forest Ruins

This Battlepad map features a ruined temple in a forest setting. The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter.

Battle Pad Kickstarter link

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Battlepad Map - Orc Dungeon

This Battlepad map features a very old school Orc Dungeon. The sheet used for the map is currently being funded on Kickstarter.

Battle Pad Kickstarter link