29 May, 2016

Game Chef International Time Zones

+Stentor Danielson has posted the time limt for this year's Game Chef contest, and curiously it has gone with a staggered effect lining up with different times in different parts of the world.

One week until Game Chef! I hope everyone is excited for this year's competition. Game Chef 2016 will run from June 4 to June 12. Like last year, we're starting it at midnight New Zealand time and ending at midnight Hawaii time to give everyone the maximum amount of time to work on their game. That means the dates are:

New Zealand: June 4, midnight (start of day)
UK: June 3, 1 PM
USA (Eastern): June 3, 8 AM
USA (Pacific): June 3, 5 AM
Hawaii: June 3, 2 AM

New Zealand: June 13, 10 PM
UK: June 13, 11 AM
USA (Eastern): June 13, 6 AM
USA (Pacific): June 13, 3 AM
Hawaii: June 12, midnight (end of day)

It doesn't really give more time to work on games. In fact, if my calculations are right, it gives designers 2 hours less than previous years to work on stuff compared to previous years. But that really doesn't make a whole lot of difference over a nine day contest. I just think it's an odd move.

No idea what I'm going to do for the contest, hopefully the ingredients will inspire me one way or another, and hopefully the theme while give some good direction.

27 May, 2016

Magic and Familiars (Part 2)

For a practitioner of magic to claim their power is purely the result of hard work and natural talent it isn't exactly a lie, but more of a convenient omission of certain facts (whether through deliberate obfuscation, or ignorance), this is somewhat like a rich entrepreneur claiming that their success was purely the result of perseverance and business acumen. Such tales inspire a myth of the practitioner, something that can be exploited in the naive. In truth, there are a number of factors known to contribute to a successful practitioner of magic, and far more suspected factors that seem have a propensity toward effective practice, but not always. The deep metaphysical yearning, sometimes called ennui, is the strongest known factor, but it's appearance seems erratic, almost random, across the population. A second known factor for a practitioner's potential is the acceptance of a specific mystic path, either through the tutelage of a mentor or the reading of a grimoire, though this requires a latent potential before the effects can apply. the secondary factors are an insatiable curiosity, a genetic heritage shared with other mystic practitioners, proximity to other mystic or unexplainable phenomena, or moments of intense trauma.

Perhaps the most consistent factor when it comes to a mystic practitioner is the presence of a familiar. Familiars acts as mystical catalysts, awakening those on the edge of metaphysical slumber, stirring a drive in those feeling dissatisfaction, manifesting phenomena unexplainable by mundane science, bringing change to an otherwise static world. Of course, the problem here is that many familiars go out of their way not to be seen, and in their hubris many practitioners of magic believe their own lies of bootstrapping their way to enlightenment through hard work and natural talent. Some occultists and mystics even go so far as to claim that familiars are awoken by them, but those investigating more than the superficial quickly see through such claims as they would see through the claims of an overly assertive politician.

26 May, 2016

Magic and Familiars (Part 1)

Magic has been a focal topic for scholars, mystics, occultists and theologians for centuries. The theories behind magic have evolved as they have responded to changes in the world, both social and environmental. Texts have been written, proven, gained favour, lost favour, been debunked, and been refound by new generations. Authors have been persecuted by the powers of the day, whether church, scientists, or military. The only commonality among those drawn to the mysteries of the arcane is the fact that they are outsiders. Those who feel their needs satisfied by the status quo do not yearn for deeper mysteries or hidden knowledge to fill a void in their lives, they live oblivious to the strangeness in their midst except for the occasional instinctive urge, flash of deja vu, or remarkable circumstances processed mentally as mere coincidence or happenstance.

If the middle classes are content with their lot in life, reined in by a herd mentality, kept in check by threats from invisible and unknowable gods, fear of demons in the shadows, or dazzled by superficial shows of sportsmanship or reality TV, then the outsiders are those on the fringe. A stereotypical fringe element might be the Wiccan or Freemason communities, but like Christians or other religious groups, there are far more Wiccans and Freemasons who will never touch the true mysteries of magic because they are simply too content with their lives, they don't have the yearning and simply consider their association to be a social dalliance. When it comes to true magic, there are far more practitioners among the homeless and the criminals, who desire far more than mainstream society has reliably offered them. There are probably at least as many practitioners of the mystic arts among the extreme upper classes of the world, consisting of those who yearn for things far beyond what society is capable of offering them. Historically, such outsiders might have been hermits, prophets, religious leaders, visionaries, patronned artists, explorers, anyone who lived apart from society... in modern times they might follow similar paths, or might be RV nomads, eco-warriors, or hackers. Being associated with outsiders, and those who desire something more than that offered by mainstream society, many practitioners of the magical arts would have traditionally been deemed by the authorities as the insane, now they might be deemed extremists or terrorists.

24 May, 2016

Pocketmod familiars

The last post I made gave a brief structure of an 80 page rulebook. That was basically the outline for the familiar game concept I've been toying with over the last couple of weeks (which is in turn an evolution of the quirky rentpunk based die mechanism that formed the basis of my "200 Word RPG Contest" entry). It's quite an expansion to go from 200 words to 80 pages.

I'm not changing the 80 page plan (possibly expanding to 96 pages with a 16 page introductory comic), what I am thinking about now is a stripped back introductory version of the game. A pocketmod version of the rules, with a series of pocketmod pre-generated characters, along with some half pocketmods written up with pre-generated supporting characters, and some locations and quest ideas. Enough to get a one shot happening, maybe a convention game...but basically a teaser and promo for the full 80 page game.

For the moment though, assignments on the issues entwined with Indigenous education need completion. Game design is the reward that comes at the end of the week.

23 May, 2016

Size of rulebook?

I'm thinking 80 pages.

About 4 pages for all that stuff at the front..titles, publishing details, contents

Followed by an 8-page Chapter 1, giving a rough overview of the world, who the characters are, what they're aiming towards, what they tend to do to get there, and what's stopping them.

A 16-page Chapter 2, describing the process of setting up play, defining the realm where the stories will unfold, the characters (main cast and supporting roles) who will be involved in those stories, and the specific places and items that will be important within the stories.

A 30-page Chapter 3, describing how mundane actions are perform (and separately how magical actions are performed), followed by how those actions build up into complete narratives. Since the actions are freeform, but players can define specific actions/spells that have been practiced to gain a more consistent outcome, the last half of this chapter will consist of sample actions and spells that might be picked up by the characters, or used as templates to develop new abilities/spells.

A 14-page Chapter 4, filled with sample supporting cast (NPCs), locations and items ready to slot into any realm where stories might unfold. This chapter is designed to help players and GM get into the action quicker by providing prompts and story fragments that might fill in some gaps or add flavour.

An 8-page Appendix, filled with character sheets (for main cast and supporting), relationship sheets, and other play aides. Finishing off with an index.

The whole thing hand written and illustrated.

I'll probably have to type it up first though, and get feedback from people before I get stuck into the full hand-rendered project.

22 May, 2016


If this doesn't inspire you to make maps with elaborate little flourishes, or turn out maps that are nothing but flourishes, then nothing will.

One more 3000 word essay to write, then I can get back to some personal work like cartography and new game design.

20 May, 2016

Some animated inspiration

This came across my radar today, and I just had to share.

It comes from http://www.panimated.com/, which is the site of Sonja Langskjaer.

Between this animation, and some of the others on the site, there are some great ideas for spiritual/animalistic hi-jinx of the type I'm thinking for the familiar game.