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About this blog

Details and updates on my projects.

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Firstly, I was somewhat surprised, but very happy, to know that some people read the last entry I posted :) Thankyou.

So, for anyone who isn't aware, Shelldry is a game in the world of the mistborn series. It is mentioned a couple of times at most, but from when it is mentioned we can gather that it is some form of gambling card game. Partly to play with my MAG groups and partly just for the fun of it I decided to create a version of shelldry. It isn't complete yet so everything here is subject to change. The rules have gone through several iterations and the card backs have been designed so some significant progress has been made on it. I currently hope to complete it within the next fortnight.

I wanted the game to be heavily set in the mistborn world, as a result it is based around the 10 allomantic metals that were known in the time of the final empire and their relative value and connections to eachother.

I know that both skaa and nobles play Shelldry and many skaa wouldn't know about allomancy. However I decided for this that it was perfectly possible that the nobility created the game and that the skaa adopted it even though most don't understand the significance of the metals and sets. :)

How to Play

The game is played with a set of 34 cards, 4 copies of each of the physical and mental metals, 1 gold and 1 atium. The game is, in basics, vaguely similar to Texas Hold'em poker. As such the best sets are of 4 and the different values of hands are based on metal pairs.

The hands, in increasing value:

-no set

-2 of a kind (eg, 2 iron)

-metal/alloy pair (eg. iron and steel)

-2 * 2 of a kind. (eg 2 iron and 2 brass)

-metal/alloy pair and a 2 of a kind (eg. iron, steel, and 2 brass)

-3 of a kind

-2 of the same metal/alloy pair (eg, 2 iron, 2 steel)

-4 of a kind

-2 pairs, one from mental, one from physical (eg, iron, steel, zinc, brass)

-full set, physical or mental (aka, iron, steel, tin, pewter OR zinc, brass, copper, bronze)

-gold and atium pair. (Special case)

Atium and gold act differently to the others. A gold/atium pair wins the pot (explained later) and ends the game, but neither gold nor atium is involved in any other set. Instead, atium and gold act as tiebreakers. If you and another opponent both have the same value set, for example if you both have a metal/alloy pair, and you have atium, you win the tie. On the flipside if you have gold, you lose the tie. This reflects atium and gold's allomantic values ;) (Or at least how valuable they are considered by most mistborn, to all you gold lovers out there.)

In Shelldry there are two distinct pools of clips/boxings. There is the current betting pool which contains all the bets from the current round and there is the pot. The pot gradually increases in size throughout the game and nothing is taken out of it till the end.

How each round works:

-Each player is dealt 2 cards, then, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player has to choose to stick with their cards, or to pay the minimum bet (lets say 1 clip for now) into the pot to discard them face-down and draw 2 replacement cards.

-Each player is dealt a third card.

-Each player (in turn) chooses an amount to bet of at least the minimum bet, they do not have to match previous bets. These bets stay in front of the player and are collectively called the "betting pool".

-A final card is flipped face up in the centre of the table. Each player can make sets from the cards in their hand and this card.

-Each player (in turn) chooses one of 3 options:

1. Fold, and take back half their bet rounded down. The remainder stays in the betting pool.

2. Stand. (No changes to their bet.)

3. Double Down. Provided the player has enough clips/boxings remaining they can double their bet, increasing the betting pool.

-All players who didn't fold reveal their hands and the player with the best set wins the round. They take back their bet and an equal amount from the betting pool. If there is not enough in the betting pool to match their bet they take however much there is. They do not take from the pot to make the difference.

-Any remaining clips/boxings in the betting pool are added to the pot.

-The cards are shuffled, the player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer and a new round begins.

In the case of a tie, if one of the players has atium, they win the tie. If one has gold, they lose it. If that doesn't resolve a tie a player who formed their set completely from their hand wins the tie.

If that still doesn't determine a victor the round is a tie and the players who are tied take back their bets and then split the remainder of the betting pool evenly between them, with the caveat that each player, like normal, cannot receive more than they bet. Any clips/boxings that they would otherwise receive from the split are added to the pot as is any extra that cannot be evenly split between the tied players.

-The game ends when a player reveals a gold/atium pair during scoring (including the case where they have one of them in hand and the other is the centre card), that player wins the round and takes the pot.

Rounds in Shelldry should go a little faster than normal poker rounds while still allowing for some bluffing and psychological play.

Gold and atium make for an interesting risk-taking dynamic. If you get gold on the initial draw do you hold on to it in the hopes that atium will come up, sacrificing your chance to get a set of 4, reducing your chance of a decent set AND causing you to lose ties? Very risky. Atium is a safer, though still risky, choice as while it makes you win ties, it still prevents you from getting a set of 4 and reduces your chance of gaining a good set. A player who starts with one in their hand has to decide if the potential reward is worth the risk ;)

An option for resolving things if the game has to end before an atium/gold pair surfaces is to deal a final round with no betting. The winner of that round takes the pot, split the pot if there is a tie.

The most recent modifications to these rules are yet to be tested so changes may well still occur.

The Cards

The easiest way to play is simply to take a standard deck of cards, take out all of the cards for the numbers 1 through 8, 1 jack card and 1 king card. Then:

1/ace = iron

2 = steel

3 = tin

4 = pewter

5 = zinc

6 = brass

7 = copper

8 = bronze

Jack = gold

King = atium

This is what I have been using during testing, however while this is functional it would be much nicer to have proper cards, so I have been working on designing them.

I figured it would be cool to have a table of the 10 then known allomantic metals on the back of the cards, both for visual use and as an easy reference chart. Partly due to this the cards I have designed thus far will be round, however as I know that round cards are much harder to print properly and cut out I also plan to put the table on to the back of more regular sized cards for those who prefer them. Circular cards are cooler for this, but normal cards are far more practical ;)

I then ran into a problem in that there isn't any table for just the 10 metals known during the final empire. This is where a friend of mine, nard, (he has an account on steel ministry but not here) helped me out. He took the table from "The Hero of ages"


He then used photoshop to cut off the bottom part, then took the top part and copied it down to make a full circle. He then covered over all the unwanted symbols and most of the inner lines to create something looking like this:


At the time he then just roughly sketched in the remaining symbols. Coming back to working on the card-back now I decided that the sketched in symbols really wouldn't do the trick. Instead I traced out the gold and atium symbols from the full allomantic chart, shrunk them to the size I wanted and used them. Atium initially gave me a bit of trouble as it was too dark a grey and kept blending in with the background. I ended up adjusting the contrast and brightness to make it a much whiter colour that stands out better on the card (and is actually closer to how I always imagined atium anyway ;) ).

That left the internal metal symbols. I could take them from the initial chart but they would be white and would look strange and asymmetrical on this new chart. I considered doing as I had with gold and atium and taking them from the full allomantic chart. However, I rather liked how the existing symbols fit with the background and how they contrasted with the new atium and gold symbols. In the end I took the symbols from the Hero of ages chart and simply inverted the colours on them then adjusted the brightness/contrast as necessary and stuck them in. I am quite pleased with the final result.


Closing Thoughts

Creating shelldry has been a lot of fun. I will hopefully finalize the rules and create the cards in the next two weeks before I go back to Uni. When I do I'll share it in the Creator's corner and upload the files for the cards so anyone who wishes to can print them off. I worry that the gameplay may be slightly suboptimal due to my desire to base it so much on the allomantic metals but I think I managed a decent balance in the end. I don't actually gamble real money with this and I wouldn't recommend anyone doing so , it is just for fun :) The most I do is sometimes I play it with my MAG players where they are using their ingame (regenerating) resources to try to temporarily get more or to gain secrets from the "informant" they are gambling with :)

As an aside.

I will be starting another campaign of the MAG over on steelministry.com hopefully in the next 2 weeks. It will be a multiple crew "cops and robbers" type campaign where there is a skaa crew (or perhaps 2 separate crews depending on the number of players I get) who are trying to pull a certain job, and a ministry crew trying to hunt them down. I have enough players to run it already, but I am looking for a couple more, so if you are interested just toss me a pm or create an account on steelministry and chime in to say you are interested.

Thankyou for reading, and if you have any thoughts, comments, criticisms or ideas please feel free to comment and let me know :)


Steel Alphabet Font

I am working on multiple mistborn fan projects and I will post updates and details of them here as I go. I don't know if anyone will actually read this but I think it will be helpful to me to keep a blog of what I am doing and may help me be more consistent with the work I put in.

I currently have four mistborn projects:

-The Steel Alphabet Font (which will be the focus of this post)

-A version of Shelldry (More on that soon)

-A character generator for the Mistborn Adventure Game (More on that soon too)

-And one other that is in very early design and I will post more about when there is something to post about it ;)

This particular post will cover how I made the steel alphabet font.


I had always really liked the allomantic symbols though I wasn't originally aware that they were an actual alphabet. When I got my copy of the MAG I noticed the writing on the cover page of the treatise mettalurgic but initially I didn't have the time or energy to investigate it further. Later as I was becoming more invested in Mistborn and the cosmere I saw this thread and the desire to read and write steel alphabet became much stronger. Knowing that due to my poor handwriting anything I wrote in steel alphabet would be abysmal I decided to make a font for it.

Having never attempted to create a font before I had no idea how easy or difficult it would actually be. I spent some time searching for a good free font creator, my efforts were somewhat hampered firstly by the complexity and shape of the allomantic symbols which made some font editors unsuitable. Secondly I needed a font editor where I wouldn't be too seriously hampered by my own lack of artistic skill and thirdly I needed a font editor with a good set of tutorials. Eventually I settled on FontForge. It had the capabilities I needed and a set of solid tutorials.


To get started I took the chart of the allomantic symbols from mistborn 1 from Isaac's website and cut out each symbol into a separate bmp file. I then went through each symbol, using the symbol as a background for it's respective letter. I then carefully traced around each one using font forge's point tracing system.

The first few symbols took me a long time and many deleted lines to accomplish, but as I got more experience I was able to trace the symbols faster and with a better quality. I ended up going back and redoing my early tracings as I wasn't satisfied with them. They still aren't perfect, but well enough.

A tracing of duralumin ('s' in the steel alphabet) with the background visible


And the tracing without the background


I hit my first major problem with the tracing when I reached the symbols which had enclosed areas, such as copper, gold and bendalloy. My standard method for tracing wouldn't work with these as the enclosed areas would be filled in with black. After some research and experimentation with different tools and methods I managed to create the symbols using the cutting tool. I did the full outline of the symbol, passing through the enclosed section and ignoring the part of the spikes that would close it off. I would then use the cutting tool to cut the appropriate places on the curves into a couple of separate segments, delete the middle section and then link up the cuts to create the beam of the spike, leaving an enclosed section. If that sounds confusing don't worry, it confused me too and I muddled it more than once.

Once I had traced all the symbols to make all the glyphs I needed (the characters in a font are refered to as glyphs) I adjusted the left side bearing and the right side bearing of the glyphs (the space left to either side when a glyph is typed) so that the spacing between the symbols when using the font would be approximately equal. Then came what I have to say was my least favourite part of creating the font, kerning.

Kerning is the process of taking each and every pair of glyphs in the font and adjusting the space between them. This is done so that the glyphs fit well together with no overlapping parts or strangely large gaps. An example of this is if you type a capital 'T' followed by an 'o', the 'o' will actually be positioned slightly under the 'T' so as not to leave a gap. This is easier to see in a larger size so here are To and Th for comparison:

To Th

Kerning turned out to be quite important for the steel alphabet as some of the characters have long spikes jutting out to one side or the other. In some cases, depending on the spacing of the pair, this could leave the spike overlapping with the next symbol, or with a large gap in-between them that looked very strange.

A couple of good examples of where this kerning is useful are the pairs:





Once the kerning was complete there was nothing left to do but to tell font forge to actually create the font and then post it for others to enjoy.

Closing thoughts

I enjoyed making the font and learned a lot about the process of making fonts from doing so. I elected to create it for the steel alphabet as it was during the final empire as I personally like those symbols the best but also because some of the others, notably the symbols in "Hero of Ages" would have been notably harder to do. It certainly isn't a professionally developed font, their are numerous flaws and imperfections with it, but by and large I am happy with the result.

In future posts I will be talking about the projects I am currently working on, I'll leave you with a sentence saying "Brandon Sanderson is awesome." in the font.


Thanks for reading!

A very late edit for anyone who stumbles across this now. You can download the font here: http://steelministry.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=501&p=7410#p7410 A site update broke old attachments on that forum at one point, but I've uploaded a new copy of the file.)