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Showing posts from November, 2012

NaGa DeMon: Epilogue

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Well, it's two hours until the end of the month for me.

I've written a game. It wasn't quite the game I intended to write, but it links in with the ideas that have been floating around in my head for the past year. I've played the game a few times, I've talked about it, I've heard feedback reports from other people who've played the game and I've modified the game according to the experiences it has provided so far.

This blog has seen increased traffic over the course of the month.



The degree of increased exposure almost makes me think that there should be a NaGa DeMon every month.

I'm pretty fired up about way to present the game, whether that comes in the form of downloadable pocketmod playbooks, or pre-printed dry-erase pocketmod playbooks that could be used over and over. The containers for such things, possible custom USB sticks containing the pdfs necessary to play, or some kind of tin to house the physical components of the game.



I'm thin…

NaGa DeMon: Day 30 (really early in the morning)

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I can't sleep, so I've created one more scavenger type for Ghost City Raiders.
The Urbanites are people who had power and influence in the old world, they buried themselves in bunkers to remain pure when the cataclysm hit the world...and even now they keep a distance from the lowly survivors who have become impure through their contact with spirits and their lack of old technologies.


This new character is one of the young urbanites, someone who wants to see the world outside for themselves. Some might be slumming it, others might be rebelling against their parents, and a few might be legitimate scholars trying to understand the truth beyond their glass and steel domes.
Chrome Guardian
This character probably has errors in it and needs some more work...it's just after 3 in the morning as I write this. But sometimes you just need to get the ideas out...so here it is.

NaGa DeMon: Day 29

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I've slowed down a bit with a whole heap of other things starting to take priority, but I've managed to throw together another scenario for Ghost City Raiders. This will probably be the last one for the month.

In this scenario, I've decided to play with the way cards are laid out on the table to form the danger zone. It makes sense to me because I've done this sort of thing in the past, but it might be a bit complicated for someone else (and I'm not sure if I've explained myself the best when giving details for the layout).

Ghost Train



While I've been working on this, I've been clarifying a few things on some of the earlier scenarios.

Gold Rush

Hopefully I'll manage to throw together another scavenger (or two) tomorrow.

Anyway...thanks for reading during the month.

Bribing Feedback

Like every game designer, I'd love to have a fanatical core of players who champion my game on various forums, in their local game stores, at conventions or among their regular gaming clubs. Not a huge number of people, but enough people paying attention to my design work and spreading their love for it more than I could do alone.

I've thought about way to do this...but I'm not one of the "hipster elite" on certain forums, I don't live in striking dstance of any major "globally signficant" convention, and it seems that many other designers are struggling just as hard a I am in these difficult financial times.

To these ends, I've offered free games, I've given away physical copies of games at local conventions, I've done game trades with other designers I respect. I've shared my design methodology.

I'm now thinking about upping the ante.It might not be enough to have a few core fanatics, it might be more worthwhile to cast a wider…

NaGa DeMon: Day 28

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Something has struck me over the course of the playtesting sessions (both my own and the feedback I've received from other people)...the notion of variable game length based on the number of players.

It links in well with the themes and the setting of the game, so it makes sense to include this sort of thing. The setting is a desolate and decaying city where the nightmares of a bygone age linger in the shadows striking out at the unwary. The scavenger communities exist on the edges of the ancient ruined cities, if these communities grow too big they attract the presence of quantum manifestations (typically known as spirits), their combined observance collapses quantum probability waves at a level that is felt through the subatomic flux (Powerful spirits used this to their advantage in ancient times, inspiring rituals among mortals that would cause collective belief to collapse quantum probability waves into pre-defined patterns...thus manifesting miracles in the physical world). …

Pocketmod Gunslinging

I've just had an idea for an alternate Pocketmod game following the genre conventions of the wild west. A game of this type would need to change the current combat system in Ghost City Raiders to a more projectile oriented system. That is, gunslinging.

The way things currently stand, the system is designed to handle melee and close contact combat. Firearms is a separate skill. I could change Ghost City Raiders to a more firearm oriented system, but that doesn't fit the genre conventions of that setting.

I'm thinking that the changes to make a gunslinging game wouldn't be much, especially if we kept the idea that a combat stance opens certain attack slots and blocks off defended slots.

In close quarters combat, a melee attack would work using the current system (with each undefended opening allowing the chance to inflict damage on a target). A gunshot at close range might work in much the same way, where an attacker sees the openings provided by their victim...the more …

NaGa DeMon: Day 26

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A few more tokens...

The first is for the spirits that will be encountered during a run through a "ghost city"...

The next three token ideas are for objectives that might be encountered...

...first a safe area, or a campsite among the ruins...

 ...then a key location that might unlock the next part of the scenario...

...or the possibility of some mystic site that could prove significant to the scavengers.
Finally, I'm looking at the idea of creating a specific range of tokens to represent the fatigue levels of the characters (and power points for those characters who possess such things). The next post will be a play report for one of the sessions that has been run, including the lessons that have been gained from the experience.

Game Marketing

I don't usually link to other people's blogs, but with recent thoughts about packaging "Ghost City Raiders", I thought that this blog post by TheBoyd was pertinent...

Boxing a Game

A lot of his comments are things that I've considered already with regard to game packaging. I've touched on them this year with my work on Walkabout, Hell-on-8-Wheels and my recent GCR foray. It's nice to see other people thinking about the same sorts of things.

Ghost City Tokens

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Working off the idea that poker chips or glass beads might take up too much room in a game designed to fit in a tin; it might be a good idea to create some printable sheets with all the tokens necessary for play.

That got me back into graphical mode.


First some character tokens...


Followed by a creature token...

...and then an obstacle token...

I'll probably tinker with these a bit more, and add a variety of other tokens, then format them into a single sheet for easy printing (and laminating if you feel that way inclined.


NaGa DeMon: Day 25

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Now that I know it basically works, I've been thinking about the idea of expanding the Pocketmod playbook concept.

Don't worry, I won't be doing it just yet. There's still a lot of great potential to explore in "Ghost City Raiders".

But now I'm certain that this will be a fun way to develop the miniatures/roleplaying game for the Goblin Labyrinth associated with my Goblin Tarot Cards of 2011. That game won't use cards to lay out a map, instead I'll develop a completely different navigation system for the continental maze. I have some moulds for resin cast hexagonal plates that will be interlocked to create a play environment.

Other genres of play could include cold war spies (sometimes working with one another, sometimes working at cross purposes, and at other times directly working against one another), secretive manipulators of a byzantine city (possible the "Baron Xavier" setting that I've visited in a few games), perhaps somethi…

Another Design Contest

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It's always nice when a new design contest comes up...especially when that design contest has restrictions on it that perfectly match a current project that you're working on.

Tin Ear Game Design Contest

Here are your design constraints, one Large, 8oz tin, 4 1/4in x 3 1/8in x 1in. 

Whatever you can fit into the container is allowable as part of the base game. 

Jump drives are right out! 

You may use any surface of the container to help play or explain your game as well as the materials that you put in the tin. 

Your game may be of any sort. 

Thematic use of the container is encouraged. 

You have till the end of January to complete your entry and post the results here for us all to marvel over. 

The rules are subject to change as I just came up with this off the top of my head!


Josh Mannon


It's always nice when a new design contest comes up...especially when that design contest has restrictions on  This would work perfectly with Ghost City Raiders, probably allowing room for around …

Follow up post to Day 22

I've just struck another idea regarding trait keywords and items.

The Walkabout world is filled with spiritual entities drawn from the dreams and nightmares of humanity.

That means the potential for werewolves, vampires, zombies, etc...

...and if we're going to have these creatures roaming the post apocalyptic cities and wastelands, we'll need methods to deal with them.

The simplest method for this is the traditional weaknesses; silver, wooden stakes, salt, etc...

Adding one or two ingredient keywords to certain items shouldn't add too much complication.

NaGa DeMon: Day 24

I've done a few tests and the "Ghost City Raiders" game seems to be fairly sound. Time to push the envelope a bit when it comes to storytelling.

The basic path to follow would be a cascading set of scenarios, it's the simple railroading method of RPG storytelling.

Scenario 1 (introduction) leads to Scenario 2 (build-up) and then to Scenario 3 (climax).

As an example...(1) the characters find components, (2) the characters combine these components [or fend off attacks from other players while someone else combines the components], (3) the characters test their final products against one another.

This could apply to finding vehicle parts, finding herbs and holistic supplies, healing an important local elder.

Now it's just a case of inserting these concepts into the structures already in place.

NaGa DeMon: Day 23

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So, it's time for a new scenario. This time the scenario is something that brings the character into conflict a bit more directly than those presented previously.

One player acts as a bodyguard to a precocious brat, while the other players make things difficult for him (or try to kill him).



Skybound Escort

Let's consider this a test run for a potential direction that the game might take.

Like most other posts this month...let me know what you think.

NaGa DeMon: Day 22

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One of the things about designing a focused game is that everything needs to feed back in on itself...otherwise it starts to sprawl...and when it starts to sprawl, it starts to lose it's focus.

With the last few characters developed for Ghost City Raiders, I'm starting to see some of that sprawl creeping in.

Don't get me wrong, some games really benefit from a sprawling flow. It allows a variety of play styles, each bringing a depth and richness that a simple focused and streamlined mechanism can't.

I'll point to a couple of examples...

D&D (Sprawling) - There are numerous races and settings, dozens of subsystems that allow specific types of  character to perform tasks that define their niche within the world. Many players consider D&D to be a tool-kit more than a game, taking the aspects they need for the stories they want to tell. The sprawl of D&D is a huge range of options, it takes a player to give those options focus...but the act of focusing D&am…

NaGa DeMon: Day 21

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Time to introduce something a bit more exotic to the world of Ghost City Raiders.

The Mutagenic Spectre

This character isn't so much dangerous, because all of the Raider types are potentially lethal in their own ways, but it does bring a new set of play options to the table. Notably, mutations and a touch of psychic powers.

The character seems pretty well balanced, but allows for some really different play options. The use of the "mutagenic" keyword on various aspects of the character mean that if the Mutagenic spectre does get out of hand as a character type, we can always include a "Purifier" or "Heretic Hunter" who gains a bonus against abilities or items bearing this trait.

NaGa DeMon: Day 20

I'm working on a few new character types for Ghost City Raiders, but a few things are bugging me.

I like games where different characters bring new strategies and play styles to the table.

The miniatures game "Malifaux" does this with certain heroic characters possessing abilities that flip core rule concepts on their heads to make wildly different play experiences...this means that some of the heroes are much harder to wrap your head around when you first start to play them, but it adds a quirky strategic element to play.

The different teams in "Blood Bowl" do this as well, but at a simpler level. One team might have better stats for throwing the ball, and thus they become more strategically adapted toward a throwing game, while another team might have stats (and abilities) that lend themselves to a running game.

I'm a bit worries that my first batch of characters for this game are all a bit vanilla. None of them really flip the game around in any dramatic…

NaGa DeMon: Day 19

A new scenario for Ghost City Raiders.

Mall Run

It's not a whole lot different to the last one. I'll hopefully be throwing together a few more different scenarios in the near future.

A cover for "Hell on Eight Wheels"

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It's been a while since my last update on the roller derby game, "Hell on Eight Wheels".

In my recent creative fury I've come up with a potential cover image for the box.


NaGa DeMon: Day 19

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It's early on day 19. I've barely woken up and I've passed a milestone in my sleep.

Paul Thornton has just played Ghost City Raiders with his wife and has provided me with valuable play-test feedback. This sort of thing rarely happens with my games. Especially during the game development phase.

This valuable feedback has prompted me to revise and clarify a few parts of the text, but it's good to know that the game is basically sound and plays blindly the way I had hoped it to.

Thankyou Paul.

NaGa DeMon: Day 18

There were a few things I really enjoyed about the miniatures game "Confrontation" from Rackham, before they really went downhill with pre-painted plastic miniatures, generally ignoring their fans, and going bankrupt. One was the elegant combat system, another was the way that certain character had specific storylines they could follow. These storylines typically consisted of three or more battle scenarios unique to the character. By engaging in these scenarios, a character could gain advantages and develop into a more advanced version of themselves. It blurred the line between rpg and miniatures battle-game in an interesting way.

I'm thinking about doing something similar for Ghost City Raiders.

In this case, all of the characters have a range of traits. The possession of specific traits will allow specific storyline quests to be followed. For example, a "nomad" might have a series of quests where they find plans for a new vehicle, gather parts and then build …

WW2 Bomber Art Completed.

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For those who are interested, here's the painting I've been working on over the last couple of weeks. I'm not 100% happy with it (so many little changes I could keep making), but sometimes you've just got to know when to stop and move on.

Status among Game Designers

I've been considering status among the design community for a while...How certain game designers can pump out half finished crap and be praised for innovation, while others plug away at truly polished products only to be ignored. Matthijs Holter has set up a thread over on Story-Games to discuss status as it relates to designers within that community.
Paul_T  (I find it fascinating that this thread, of all threads, is bringing out so many observers and lurkers! Why is that?)Matthijs Excellent question! While high-profile posters mostly stay away. ChristopherWeeks Huh.  My first thought was that maybe it's a little embarrassing to acknowledge that you're one of the highest-status people. These are just my theories, and I'm deliberately avoiding the use of specific names of people or games... I think it's the whole notion of the privileged few versus the unprivileged masses. The few have power far beyond their numbers and either don't know how they got their powe…

NaGa DeMon: Day 16b

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Just a quick note to show everyone the updated format for the first Ghost City Raiders scenario

Gold Fever Scenario Update


NaGa DeMon: Day 16

I've been working on a new character booklet layout.

It's almost right. The last thing I see a need to change in the foreseeable future is the insertion of quickly recognizable glyphs for different types of actions and attributes, and a character image on the front page...I've been busy working on study over the past week or so (end of the course, setting up my parts of the exhibition gallery for student works), which has meant my NaGa DeMon work has taken a bit of a back seat.

Over on the NaGa DeMon facebook group, I made an offer to provide illustrations to NaGa DeMon competitors...that holds true, and if you're not on the Facebook group, let me know here if you're interested.

Pocketmod Goblins

This Pocketmod things really seems to be working, and it seems to run a smooth game (I'd love to get some blind playtest feeback, but the local sessions seem to be working pretty well).

I'm thinking that at some stage I might revise the concept slightly and revisit the world of the goblin tarot.

The core rules would comprise a booklet, as would the scenarios (just like the system already established). Heroes would start with a basic booklet, they'd get a second booklet to describe the kinds of ways they can motivate the goblin hordes around them. The whole system would be modified from regular playing cards and would shift toward using the goblin tarot deck as the basis of it's play.

It would be interesting to see how mass combat might occur using this type of system.

Ghost City Raiders - New Character Types

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If you've had a look at my work in progress "Ghost City Raiders", or if you've even been kind enough to download the components...you'll find two basic character types. One is meant to be pretty fast, while the other one is mean in combat.

What other types of characters would you like to see?

Psychics?

Mutants?

Secretive masters of ancient technologies?

Barbaric savages?

Stealthy Assassins?

Dieselpunk tinkerers?

Anything else?

Not everything around here is game design.

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We're also working on some fun art.


Colours haven't turned out as vibrant as I'd hoped in this photo.

NaGa DeMon: Day 11b

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These pages form the new layout for Ghost City Raiders.

I'm working on a few glyphs that will be used to quickly identify things like "Attack", "Defence", "Skill", "Modifier", as well as glyphs for the various attributes.

The front page will have the same general outline without the combat openings at top and bottom, and some kind of illustration depicting a stereotypical character if this type. The back page will be statted up with the character attributes.

I'm thinking about generating up twin versions of each character, one male and one female (with suitable illustrations on each relevant front cover). I'm not sure about the style of illustrations yet.

NaGa DeMon: Day 11

Armistice Day...the 11th of November. Time to talk about non violent stuff.

Actually, on that reasoning I should have talked about explosives on the 5th of November.

There are a few skills in Ghost City Raiders that just didn't feel right.

Notably, "Honour" and "Splendour".

I gave Honour a nebulous ability that gives an "Honourable" trait...but outside a specific scenario where this might be important, it doesn't really do anything. Splendour, which was meant to represent someone beautiful, didn't get a skill write-up at all because I just couldn't think of something good for it.

At work last night, a new idea struck...

Maybe honour can work based off something that you don't do.

If you go into combat against someone, and get an opening (where your attack isn't met by an opponent's defence), you can choose not to exploit that opening for potential damage. If you hold back, rather than testing for damage, you gain an honour chip…

NaGa DeMon: Day 10

I'm not afraid to admit it, some changes need to be made to the system.

Combat. 

At the simplest level, the current set-up for combat seems to favour those who take an offensive stance over those who take a defensive one.

I was working off the theory that the same number of combat openings would be covered in each stance...for example; 4 attack, 2 defence for an offensive stance, 3 each for a balanced stance, 2 attack, 4 defence for a defensive stance. This means you cover the same number of strategic openings no matter what you do, but if you act offensively you have more chances to damage your opponent.

I've considered a few ways to remedy this. With the first option to introduce an energy system into the game...big attack stances have a high energy cost to activate, small attack stances have a low energy cost, and acting defensively costs nothing. Energy points would be accumulated slowly during end-of-turn refresh phase. If you played defensively, you could  build up the po…

NaGa DeMon: Day 8b

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Now we have everything ready to run a playtest.

All you need is four sheets of standard international A4 paper to run off some "pocketmod playbooks", a deck of cards, some paperclips and an assortment of tokens.

Here are the playbooks...

Core Rules
Character 1: the Nomad Brave
Character 2: the Shadow Blade
Scenario 1: Gold Fever

I'll be running a playtest shortly, but if anyone else would like to run through the rules to let me know where it works and where it doesn't, any feedback would be much appreciated.

I'll work on a few more slowly over the month...but for now it's back to work on Walkabout.

(Note: Image not mine. Image not indicative of final artwork for the game...just the first thing that popped up when I did an image search for "Post Apocalyptic Scavenger". For more, have a look here).

NaGa DeMon: Day 8

It's actually pretty early on day 8 here in Oz. But I'm awake and I've finished the second prototype character type for Ghost City Raiders.

I'm envisioning the wandering sword-wielding zombie slayer for this one. Someone who lives by a code of ethics that they've picked up from martial arts movies, or maybe they've actually studied under a sword sensei who in turn learned from someone who survived from the old days.

The first one was more of a mover who gets around the board quickly to accomplish missions, this ones more of an honourable killing machine capable of bringing "great vengeance and furious anger" to the danger zone.

The Shadow Blade

As a side note, here's a full listing of the abilities that I've generated up for the game so far:


Academics (Smarts - boost): +2 to smarts Acrobatics (Speed - action): Test speed. If successful, move to an adjacent location. This action is considered complicated if there is a barrier in the way. Athletics

NaGa DeMon: Day 6

Time to reveal the first scavenger for Ghost City Raiders...

The Nomad Brave

I've pulled the abilities for this character from the range of skills that I've developed for walkabout.

In Walkabout, each heroic character has three defining archetypes (regular folks have two archetypes), the archetypes have six skills associated with them. This gives the average character twelve possible skills some characters might find themselves with less options if the six skills from each archetype include some overlap. When this happens, some other bonus will probably become available.

In the next few days, hopefully another character type, and a scenario. That will be enough to actually play some playtest sessions.

Some better formatting will be applied to the character booklets in the final version, but this current style should be good enough to give an idea of how the game plays out.

Something every wayfarer needs

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In a post apocalyptic world, you need your survival gear to be small and easily portable.

I'm definitely thinking of including a modified version of this in the Wayfarer's survival guide.

Details Here

NaGa DeMon: Day 5

It appears that I made a mistake in the first version of the core pocketmod playbook rules for Ghost City Raiders.

I didn't include the end of turn sequence for refreshment and rejuvenation.

While I was adding this in, I decided to add a bit of formatting to the project.

Ghost City Raiders (version 2)

Some time in the next couple of days I hope to have a couple of sample characters to send raiding in the rusted cities of a fallen world.

NaGa DeMon: Day 4

I've been on a bit of a Pocketmod Kick lately...it seems a few people have, especially on G+.

I've also been trying to get my head into gear for the development of Walkabout, but it's been a slow slog.

As a result, I've decided to kick out a game for NaGa DeMon a bit early...it will be the first part of my Pocketmod Playbook series.

Ghost City Raiders

Hopefully there's enough here to give an inquisitive player the basic gist of the game. I'll be putting together a couple of scenario books and character books for the game over the next week while I work on the other Walkabout materials. I don't know how much of this booklet makes sense without the other playbooks to complete the rule set.

Let me know what you think.

NaGa DeMon: Day 3

So, three days in, and I've had house-guests for the entire month so far.

We were intending to have a Halloween party tonight...but that looks like a bit of a bomb.

So I'm now working away on game design again. I've found an interesting template for a technical manual which will form the basis for the "Guide to Outback Survival". Once I plug the necessary titles in place and generate up a bunch of place-holder paragraphs, the guide expands out to 70 pages or so, and that's before images are put it.

I'm gradually working through the place-holder paragraphs now. Trying to find the inspiration necessary to turn the random strings of "lorem ispum" text into intelligible phrases that make sense for the book. I joked over on the facebook page that I create games by doing the layout first...and this time I've actually done that for the survival guide.

The catch is that the survival guide seems to be turning into more of a "Lonely Planet Guide …

NaGa DeMon: Day 1

After a great start this morning, I didn't realise that my laptop wasn't plugged in and I couldn't get close to a power point (everything had appliances already plugged in). As a result, I let the computer run down, went out into the garden and did some work (assuming that the auto-save functions would allow me to continue work in the afternoon).

When I finally finished work in the garden, tending to home grown potatoes, herbs, lawns, and a few walls that needed some work, it was late afternoon. I found a free power outlet and recommenced work on the game.

Only to find that the auto-saves didn't kick in.

All my work from this morning was gone.

I started again, this time looking at a version history for the Walkabout survival guide, and using this as a method to help construct the table of contents for a pseudo-living document.

I'm working on the notion that the survival guide is set 62 years after the Walkabout world tilts it's axis (where each year of our time…