Kiwi Design-ing into the new year…

Just a quick update on my plans for the new year.

Intrepid is probably going to be put up on RPGNow as POD, as I have less than 30 copies left,  it just needs a bit of work on the layout. I’m also hoping to reintroduce the setting cards,  based on Ash’s rather nice cards that made it into the back of the book at the last minute.

London 2051 is looking like it may become a game in 3 parts… a conspiracy scenario,  a heist scenario and something else,  all based on the same narration/movement/scene type rules. Play testing for the conspiracy part has been going well,  it just needs a decent ending.

I’m toying with giving Honour by Day (my treacherous knights game, written for Game Chef) a similar treatment,  we’ll see how the first set goes. I also got Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective for Christmas,  which is giving me ideas, nothing concrete yet.

Finally I really need to put in some more work on the UKRPDC website,  something to let potential customers see what games are available easily.

So, looks like I’ll be busy.

EDIT: The Android WordPress app does a rubbish job of formatting posts 😦

Writing is Lonely

This is my New Year resolutions post.

Writing is a lonely business. Writing requires a lot of self-belief, and a lot of discipline, and some times you run out of both, and that’s OK.

However… I don’t believe I have run out of either. What I have done so far is procrastinate, lose track of the passing weeks, fail to write a proper outline (as opposed to the stacks of index cards I have scattered around the office) and generally fool myself that it’s OK that I haven’t written as much as I would have liked–I’ve been tired, or ill, or travelling a lot for work so all of that has to take precedence over creative work that I do alone in my office after I finish the day job.

Well, it’s not OK, really. I’d like to finish this project, and the next, and the next. Work will only get harder this year.

Now, in my day job, I set goals, milestones, have weekly meetings and reminders. Why am I not doing the same thing for this project? Probably because somewhere in my brain I’ve told myself this is not work, this is creative stuff, this is the antithesis of order and discipline and knuckling down–which is plainly silly, but I’m only human.

So, applying a bit of day-job logic, this should be simple.

1. Set weekly milestones but also weekly progress reports. Compare the progress reports to the milestones, and either up the pace or adjust the milestones to something more realistic, depending on the end goals.

2. Have a proper project plan with a timeline.


Anyway… the good news is that I’m not horrifically blocked, staring at a blank sheet of paper on my typewriter*, I’ve just been my usual lazy self. There is an outline with chapter headings, there is content, there is an actual game. The goal was to have the first draft written by the end of this year, but two week’s slippage is probably tolerable.

The other good news is the difference between writing games instead of fiction; the latter really is solitary, but at least games have a social feedback mechanism built in with playtesting. That’s starting up again in the new year now we have new sofas and guests aren’t forced to sit on spikes.

I’m not sure how I’ll announce my progress. I’ll think of something. I know at least one author who announced his current word count via twitter, although that’s not really my thing. Otherwise the new years resolutions are to have a plan and stick to it, run the game, and read and write daily (as usual).

The two hardest parts of design and writing I’m finding at the moment are (i) what’s my system and (ii) what’s my setting. This may sound absurd since game is basically system + setting, so I’ll elaborate. I have a set of procedures for world building, I have an idea of how players come together to play, and I have an idea of the setting I would like to run in. I haven’t decided on mechanism for randomisation (or if that’s even necessary; I’m in favour of a Karma/Drama approach a la Everway or Amber). As for the world, the game is about players developing and owning the world, so being prescriptive on the game world is sort of contrary to the design goals. But it’s fine. It’s just another decision.

Happy new year!


* Typewriters are awesome. They go click-clack. They don’t get the internet. They’re not so good for making blog posts, though.


BHAW – Pretty, but is it Fate, Part II?

This is a follow-up on my previous  Pretty but is it Fate? 

One of the hardest parts in designing a game is selecting what goes in and what to cut out. Lot of great ideas have to get the chop because ultimately they don’t fit with the rest. And if working with Fate, the range of options you have available to include and discard is quite overwhelming.

One of the signature feature of Fate which has been getting ever-increasing attention is how Aspects can apply to anything or more accurately anything be it a ship, a sword or an entire country can be treated as a character.

In Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands I’ve chosen to take a step back and said, Aspects are cool, but I want them just to be for characters because it’s the characters I am interested in, the rest is furniture.

Every time I invoke an non-character Aspect I am saying “Look cool and dramatic this piece of furniture is” when I could be saying the same about a character instead. Of course you can do both but there is still an opportunity cost. At any one point in the game there are a limited amount of Fate points and a limited amount of spotlight available, who are you going to give it to, the player character or the furniture?

An example that comes up a lot is adding “Out of ammo” as an Aspect on a gun. Personally I find it more interesting if the out of ammo condition is a reflection on the character with an Aspect like “Always unprepared” or “Tight with money” than a property of gun itself. Sure

maybe Mjolnir, Excalibur and Vera warrant an Aspect or two, but to use it on regular equipment just seem wasteful to me.

The other reason behind this design choice is that Aspects to a large extent seem to confuse people new to Fate. I’m very keen that Bounty Hunters of the Atomic Wastelands remain a simple, accessible game. The fewer different uses of Aspects in the game the easier to understand I expect they will be for new players.

Of course, as I mention in my previous blog entry on the subject, veteran Fate players can easily add more involved uses of Aspects without breaking anything.