25 January, 2017


I've been reading through a few Judge Dredd comics... some of the classics... some more recent stuff... the "Judgement on Gotham" Batman crossovers... the "America" story arc...

...in light of current politics (and given that a lot of these stories were written over 20 years ago), the satire is viciously delicious.

Given that I've been reading these comics for detail research regarding my "Arcology Tower" project, almost everything fits in with what I've done and my memories of the overall structure have generally reflected the oeuvre. A few things I'm finding interesting are the finer points... certain character calling knives "stanleys", even to the point of having "laser stanleys" that might be used for cutting into flesh for scarification purposes...the strange cults and gangs who often have names that allude to groups in our world... mysterious relics and arcne technologies that might link this world to other universes (where the Dark Judges originated, where crossovers with other comic companies or elements of 2000AD canon might occur)...

...the whole setting is so rich with flavour elements and works on numerous levels. I'm not sayong it's a perfect setting, there are a few elements that stand out as elements of their time and have become dated as the years have gone by (a notable meme has commented that the crime statistics in the USA are arguably worse than the "dystopia" of Megacity One).

The quoted population vesus the depicted cityscapes feels off too... by at least an order of magnitude.

Still... it was never written for its accuracy, it was written for its satire on the Thatcherist government in the UK in the 1980s, and the current political climate is bringing relevance back to that side of it. I guess it's a bit like Warhammer 40k in that regard, it's just that the fanatics in that part of fandom seem to have lost their senses of humour regarding the whole thing.

21 January, 2017

A free game (of sorts)

Over the years I've had a few fragmentary game ideas that never really went anywhere. Sometimes I come back to them and polish them up enough to present to the outside world.

Here's one of those ideas.

It's a game called Tales. It's pretty open in this incarnation, designed for a group to collaboratively tell stories together, and when you put it that way it sounds like standard RPG fare.

The point of difference here is that instead of an arbitrary randomiser to determine whether a character succeeds in their action, or a direct comparison of skills levels to difficulty degree, a players companions determine whether a character succeeds by playing a card from a hand that is replenished randomly through the course of play. So a player is prompted to create dramatic moments and appeal to the players around them for the chance to gain maximum success potential (of course there's always the chance that those other players won't be able to provide a successful action, it all depends what's in their hands, and what they might be saving successes for).

Some of the ideas derive from my game "The Eighth Sea", but in a seriously stripped back version. But most of the ideas derive from my earlier incarnation of the "Tales" game engine.

Anyway, here it is. 


18 January, 2017

Odd sizes??

How do people feel about "odd" book sizes?

I'm starting the process of compiling my arcology tower maps into a single book (which will probably be 160 pages or so). There will be two versions of this book, one of which will be fully statted out and ready to run as a sandbox game environment, the other will be fully illustrated, but designed to be used as a game prop that is filled in as the tower is explored by the characters (with an optional booklet describing random location/npc generation, and how to tie these random ideas together into a coherent ecosystem/economy).

I'm looking at the DrivethruRPG book sizes, and I'm really tempted to go with 8.5"x8.5", with the optional random generator booklet at 8.5"x5.5". But I can find it annoying to have a row of uniform books on my shelf, with one or two odd ones.

Just wondering about other people's thoughts before I go ahead with this.

16 January, 2017

EttinCon Summer 2017

A photo posted by Michael Wenman (@vulpinoid) on

I've finally managed to get to another EttinCon. I was at the first one in Winter 2015, missed the Summer and Winter ones in 2016, but managed to reach the Summer 2017 edition.

Both times I have attended, I've wanted to participate in some indie gaming goodness, whether that might be of the "storygames", the "OSR", or some other flavour. Both times I've run FUBAR to an enthusiastic group who picked up the game pretty quickly, but didn't get the chance to play anyone else's offerings... actually, at that first EttinCon, I played a few boardgames, but no other RPGs.

It was the first EttinCon I've managed to get Leah along to, and the first game convention I've brought her too since GenCon Oz back in 2009.

For a game session I had in the back of my mind for a week or so, but which I didn't formally put together until the night before, It worked pretty well. It also gave me the right direction for including some supernatural powers into the FUBAR mechanisms of play.

I basically ran with the idea that each of the characters was an angelic being in a mortal shell. They claimed powers from a divine word, and had skills and abilities derived from the memories of their host. The word was left as a vague noun (whether abstract or concrete), and as long as the angel could  justify a way that the noun could be incorporated into an action, they could spend one or more power points to boost the action. Each character started the session with 2 power points, and gained an extra point at the end of each act (where a typical game, such as the one we played, has 3 acts). Each point of power added an automatic success to an already successful action (or added half of it's total in the cae of a partial success). Some played a series of actions with low divine power funnelled into it, one held all of his energy for a massive manifestation during the climax. Every time divine energy was channelled into an action, a distinct die was rolled to see how obvious the use of power was (1-2 everyone sees it as something distinctly unnatural, 3-4 mundane people dismiss it is a coincidence but those with divine power can see the truth, 5-6 the use of power is well concealed). It made the use of supernatural powers a wildcard, and that gave a specific flavour to the game's narrative.

On one hand, this distinction made the manifestation of power different to the mundane actions of the world, and a distinct choice needed to be made when divine energy was drawn upon. On the other hand, forcing the players to accept the result of a single die without allocating it goes against the general mechanisms of FUBAR. I'll need to unpack my thoughts on this.

12 January, 2017

Back to the character string

Late last year I was developing a concept for an online game, where a character is defined by an encoded string of alphanumeric digits.

I've been thinking about it again, and have been working through the necessary components to go through an online character generation process.

Just in case you've been wondering what I've been up to for the last couple of days...

...well, that and getting ready for EttinCon.

04 January, 2017