Slow start (and a Tarot Simulation)

Another year with a slow start for the blog, basically because I've been preparing to move house next week, rehearsing for a local community theatre production, and putting the final touches on the playtest character generation document for Familiar. It's probably going to be another of those years where I end up chasing my tail, only to end up in flux at the end of it... we'll see.

As for the game design stuff...

The majority of the character generation system for Familiar relies on a five-card tarot spread, but I realise that not everyone has access to a deck of tarot cards. To make things easier, I'm currently looking through online Tarot spread generators, and the closest I've found to what I'm after is here. It's a Celtic Cross spread rather than a five card spread, so I'm trying to find something better...but I'm having a bit of trouble in this regard. There are plenty of Tarot phone apps, so maybe a person could use one of these instead. Ther…

Finding Inspiration

One of the key elements of familiar is that the characters can derive mystical inspiration from all sorts of unexpected sources.

One of the other elements is that inspiration and mystical insight comes from assorted texts from all over the world.

Why not combine the two ideas?

Why not allow some characters to develop insight from sources that most people would simply ignore?

Here's a example of something I've been devising...
Alissandre Ramirez (1973), Harbour Rose Publishing)
This pulp romance novel from the early 1970s was ignored by many in the mystic community for decades. A product of it’s time, it tells the story of an abused mistress and a neglected wife who join forces against the successful advertising executive at the centre of their two lives. Willing to do whatever it takes to teach him a lesson, they suffer injuries and humiliation before delivering justice in the final chapters. It was only the transcendence of several suburban housewives that led occult groups to …

Welcome 2020

A new year brings a chance to work on new projects, or at least bring fresh ideas, while reflecting on what may or may not have worked in the past.

(Yes, even though half the country is on fire, Sydney still had fireworks)
It also brings the opportunity to think about things that have been learned over the year. Something interesting came to my attention yesterday.

In 2019, I had my first year as a teacher. During this time, I mat some great students in a rural community who haven't had the some opportunities that city kids get. Many of these kids have great potential, and many of them are really smart, some of them are gamers. One of the kids who I've come to know pretty well lives on a farm of 150 acres, his parents are often away, problems with government bureaucracy and climate change have led them to not have enough water to irrigate crops, so he has basically been living thirty kilometres out of town with no transport to get into town, looking after the surviving animals …

Making it accessible

I think I need to write a comic-form RPG again. I tried it a while ago with one of my iterations of Walkabout, but it was getting a bit confusing because there were a lot of elements of the game that still weren't quite right. The current project, Familiar, feels like it might be a good fit for this idea... that might be next year's big concept.

The Balance

Balance plays a part in so many games. It might be the balance between characters to ensure that one player's opportunities in the story don't overshadow those of other players. It might be the balance between game elements and story elements. It might be the balance of maintaining interest in the narrative compared to the drive to continually improve the character.

At the moment, the balance I'm considering is far more vague, and potentially controversial, but it's one of the core elements of the game, so it's one of the elements that I have to make sure is right.

Familiar is intended to be a game about people who see the injustice in the world, who feel the desire to change things for the better, and who are capable of manipulating reality to achieve their goals. It's a game about people who care about the world around them, but who have been marginalised by society in a way that limit their ability to do anthing about it. In this setting, the familiars resto…

Almost ready to Playtest

I've reached the point where the character generation system is pretty much able to produce starting characters. That means I can make some starting characters who will be compatible with the system going forward, and those characters can be used by people who want to understand and play with the system.

Since the majority of the game works reasonably well in the format of "The Law", the main things that need testing are the magic system, and a system where characters gain power from encountering the situations that they want to see changed in the world.

That's where I'll be heading next.


I've made it to Silver on one of my products at DrivethruRPG, which is nice. I've got a decent range of games sitting at Bronze level too.

Maybe this whole game design thing is working after all.

In unrelated news, there will be a few less posts on the blog over the new years period as I move house again. I've just finished up a year as a woodwork/metalwork teacher on the border of NSW and Victoria, and am now heading a few hours northeast to a little town near Griffith (here's a map for those unfamiliar with the area).

I'm still going to be working away on the Familiar project when I get the chance, but the updates won't be coming through every day or two like they have been.