Reading and Writing

My game is becoming a cut and shut.


I really need to stop buying games for a while. I’m desperately trying to write my own game and at the same time I keep wanting to read all my new purchases. Pelgrane Press have got me on the hook for Nights Black Agents, Mutant City Blues, Ashen Stars, TimeWatch and loads of supplements. There’s the new and final Next packet. And there’s the 13th Age Bestiary.

They’re all great. They all have something innovative, or at least steal able in them. And that’s the problem. My game keeps wanting to incorporate the best bits of my latest reading.

War Stories started life as a riff on Gamma World mixed with B/X D&D (of all things). Since then it’s morphed and evolved into a DCC clone. Then it got stripped away and given the Owl Hoot Trail treatment. Now I’m revamping it (ha!) off the back of some great stuff…

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Threats and Promises

Remedy this situation, restore spice production, or you will live out your life in a pain amplifier.

Spacing Guild Representative to Emperor Shaddam IV

Conflict in RPGs is king, and identifying conflict is the keystone to successful implementation. Without conflict there is no challenge and no drama.

So of course there’s conflict in a roleplaying game. All of our game subsystems are geared to managing, measuring and resolving conflicts of one kind or another. This can be detailed or simplistic depending on tastes, system familiarity and priorities, but I think it’s fair to say that combat gets a disproportionate amount of attention in most games.

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BHAW – Critters

The critters rules is where BHAW starts to get a little weird. Not new paradigm weird or anything, but I would consider the critters rules among the signature mechanics of BHAW in that with just a Critter Rating, a few Stress Points and variety of Toppings BHAW allows the GM to create a crazy variety of encounters on the fly.

Critters is the generic term of anything in the Atomic Wasteland that might want to stab, shoot or eat you. Outlaw gangers are critters, feral robots are critters, even rival Bounty Hunters might be critters. And of course critters are critters. The fella’s in picture below? You bet they’re critters!


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War Alpha

Feeling good about my progress with War Stories at the moment. I was getting tied up with layout and flavour when I didn’t actually have the core mechanics nailed down. I set to writing up a skeletal rules document this weekend. Having it bare bones helped me to see a few things that were obscured before. I’m now confident of where I’m headed and how to get there.

Recent revelations?

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Intrepid Cartography

I’ve been working on the map examples for Intrepid. I think they have turned out OK so far and since I’m not exactly an expert artist I thought I’d share my process. Very much a “non-expert’s guide for non-experts”.

The Pillars of Earth

Intrepid - Pillars of the Earth

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Marquis of Ferrara the actual thing in actual colour

Holy Indie RPG face stabbing goodness batman! What a couple of weeks it’s been at PCD central. So after playing the cat and mouse game of guess when I’m in, guess when I’m going to deliver your product with the delivery company it’s finally here. That’s right the fully finished ready to be cracked open and played to death copies of Marquis are here!! And oh! my doesn’t it look a thing of beauty? 2013-09-18 19.32.11   So I want to first say congratulations to Rich for all the hard work you’ve put in over the years. You should be really proud of the finished game, it is for winners! It’s a shame we can’t go out a grab a few beers to celebrate but I guess it will have to wait until Indiecon. Missing you brother! Marquis is a massive step for PCD as it marks our second finished game…

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2 GM or not 2 GM

This thread on RPGGeek got me thinking: why don’t some people want to GM? To help me get to grips with this problem- and it clearly is a problem, as there are folks out there (I don’t think Pete’s the only one) resorting to running games they want to play because no-one else will- I’d like to pose the following questions to the Collective:

  1. What made you start GMing?
  2. What do you think stops a lot of folks from GMing?
  3. Do you think GMing a game helps one to get more of a handle on that game?
  4. Do you think GMing experience is a pre-requisite for becoming a game designer?

Skills, and why I struggle with them


When I started in RPGs, there were really no skills, not as we know them. Well, there were what the thief got in AD&D, but you’d have to be crazy to rely on those. Seriously? Pick pockets at less than 15%? I never really noticed the lack of a skills system in play until just about every game published thereafter contained one. Sometimes they were a call to ‘realism’ with pages and pages of the things, and in the case of Rolemaster I’m just talking about the character sheet. Sometimes they were pithier, but still, a laundry list of things you could now do with your PC.

My personal sweet spot for the skills list has topped out at about 15 or so in the past, but actually I’m increasingly looking to get that down to sub 10 where possible. Better, lose skills entirely and put the onus back on…

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Knee Deep to date

Really gratified (and somewhat surprised) to see that my Adventure Environment for 13th Age has been downloaded nearly 600 times since release early this year. Given that I got it out there six months before the game itself became publicly available, I’m kind of expecting it to keep going now a wider audience is there.

Obligatory link.

Now, it is free, and under the fair use/fan policy I’m going to keep it that way, but I wonder how many I would have shifted if I had charged for it? My guess is that I’d lose 80% of that number if I’d charged even a pound. On a Pay What You Want basis? Who knows.

War Stories

My game is called War Stories for now. Only because I can’t think of anything that alliterates with Sten guns. It’s a straight ahead WW2 game, with the rather unique twist in that it contains absolutely no zombies at all.

The central conceit is this. D&D came from Chainmail, a fantasy miniatures wargame. D&D is (still) essentially a wargame at it’s heart, but with all the cool RP stuff layered on top of that. It has people who fight, people who are skilled, people who support, and people who control the situation.

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