24 September, 2018

Question...

Would anyone be interested in a step by step tutorial showing how I turn my handwriting into a font? ...or any other glyphs into a font for that matter?

22 September, 2018

Vulpinoid Handwriting Font

I've been promising to create this for years, but now that I'm thinking of handwriting this spirit game I figured it was probably a good time to finally generate up a font of my handwriting. It's not going to be as authentic as actually handwriting the game, but if I make any errors then it's going to be much easier to delete, add, and edit any changes in a word processor rather than manually using liquid paper and re-inking paper. I'll probably still draw titles manually, to ensure a bit more variety in these elements that will be more prominent.

As I write this, I've done upper and lower case letters, I've still got to add in numbers and punctuation. Then I'll tweak things like kerning until the lettering looks like my naturally written handwriting.

It's a feature, not a bug

One of the things that I embedded into The Law was the idea that a character's level automatically adjusted the difficulty of their stories, and while the level was linked to the character's ability to succeed in actions, it was only a part of the overall ability. This means that a player who rushes ahead with their character's level will find that bigger antagonists face off against them, but they just don't have the skills and relevant backup from other stats. Another player who takes the "long game" approach, gradually building their character's other stats and then increasing level only once everything else is finely tuned and optimised will find things easier... bit it will be a much slower game for them.

This isn't highlighted in the rules, but it was deliberate. When I worked in the corporate world, I saw too many people who were elevated beyond their abilities to function effectively. They made a big show, they attracted big clients, but they just couldn't handle the daily activities that made those clients happy. Thus they relied on the people around them, and had to make judgement calls about who would be best able to do this. On the surface, they'd look at people on the same level as them, people who talked a big game but didn't know what they were really doing either. If they looked deeper, they'd see those other people in the office who were kept around because they didn't seek the limelight, and who were incredibly effective at working behind the scenes. Of course then there were the people in the office who had reached the middling levels with an incredible range of skills and contacts at their disposal... everyone within the company knew that they were thd true backbone of the enterprise, often kerping things running smoothly for decades while the young high fliers crashed and burned after a few years when they made one too many mistakes for biting off more than they could chew.

It's hard to do something similar to this with a flat level system, where it's assumed that everything goes up together (even if some parts of the character advance more quickly with each level due to the class specialties).

In The Law, it's assummed that characters will gain some kind of advantage or xp boost every game or two at first, then gradually less as they gain power. They are also specifically capped in their Agency Rank, by not allowing it to be higher than the character's highest attribute die. This means that after their first session, they could easily ascend from a rookie (d4) to a full agent (d6), and in a game or two could boost their rank a second time (to d8), but this incurs the higher difficulties for everyone in the team, so other agents might not be too happy with this. Getting to the higher dice (d10 and d12) will probably require waiting until an attribute is boosted, but if an agent has avoided any attribute reductions due to permanent in-game effects, it could still be feasible to reach such heights after a dozen games or so... it's a pretty rapid development compared to the long slog of D&D campaigns lasting years or even decades, but it has that built in feature that if a character reaches that level of heroic notoriety without the attributes to effect the people around them, or the defences to avoid the incoming effects launched against them, they'll crash hard.

In this new game about the spirit world, I'm not necessary going to limit the equivalent Rank die to never being higher than the highest attribute die, but I suspect that this is how things will work out by default. Characters will still pass the same advancement thresholds that they do in The Law, but they'll only be able to increase their rank once they've completed a story. At the beginning, a story should only take one or two game sessions to resolve, but as a character gains power, the more complicated stories will take longer.

It's the pacing of these later stories that I'm worried about at the moment.

(The following ideas are based on the number of story beats that would need to be hit, as a character moves through their tale) 

I like the triangular number system...

1=1
1+2=3
1+2+3=6
1+2+3+4=10
1+2+3+4+5=15
Etc.

...something like it is already built into the advancement thresholds in The Law.

What I described in earlier posts goes a bit like this. Each level requires a number of story beats equal to the level number before it is completed. The overall number of story beats follows the progression. So, if a character is working through level 1, they haven't achieved a single beat yet...while working through level 2 occurs after that first beat has been resolved, and as the character progresses through their second and third beats...level three follows through beats 4 to 6... etc. But this is feeling like a rapid acceleration from lowly sprite to epic godhood.

In playtesting, I've found that the d4 rank die of starting characters is a bit problematic, but it does mean that characters have an innate desire to mitigate the issues of the low die by working together (which is always a good thing), independence only really becomes viable if you've got a decent rank die, some useful equipment, or a situational advantage (and it helps more if you've got at least two of those). So we need to get characters above that d4 level quickly, but don't necessarily want them ascending to the d10 and d12 quickly.

It might slow things down at higher levels to require triangular progression within levels rather than overall. In such a system, rank 1 would still only require a single beat, level two would require (1+2=) 3 beats, for a cumulative total of 4. Level three would require (1+2+3=) 6 beats, for a cumulative total of 10. Level four would require (1+2+3+4=) 10 beats, for a cumulative total of 20. Level five would require (1+2+3+4+5=) 15 beats, for a cumulative total of 35. If we assume a beat is hit every game or two, then it would take 35-70 games (an average between these games would be 52, which happily coincides with a year of weekly solid game play).

An exponential system could also work here.
1=1
1×2=2
1×2×2=4
1×2×2×2=8
1×2×2×2×2=16
...doubling gives us an faster progression through the numbers until we get to thst last level, when things really decelerate. I think I'm happier with that triangular progreesion within each of the levels.

The only problem I've got nagging at the back of my mind is that it's all feeling a bit abstract and artificial.

So that leaves me thinking about other solutions... but that will be the next post.    


21 September, 2018

Handwritten Games

When I wrote Catacomb Quest, the aim was to create a pocketmod by literally hand wtiting and illustrating the whole thing on an A3 page, then to reduce this sheet to an A4 page. As an idea, it worked reasonably well, but after writing up half of it I made a mistake, and then there was another mistake made towards the end of the manual illustration part of the process. These were all fixed up in post, using Photoshop, but I basically decided that if I were going to do this kind of thing again, I'd draw up the eight pages of the pocketmod separately, or maybe as 4 double-page spreads.

In this current spirit world project, I could re-use spreads that are common across different pocketmods, and if I stuff up a single spread I can just redo it rather than needed to redo the whole pocketmod. Yes, I can just make changes in Photoshop again, but this modular approach feels better for the project.

I think it might also be time to finish developing a font from my handwriting too... maybe that will be today's project.

20 September, 2018

What do characters do?

When I developed The Law there was an automatic driving force within the narrative of the game. This was a game about keeping the peace in a post cyberpunk dystopia. That's a good basic premise, it gives the characters something to do automatically. There are inherent things within the setting for characters to react to, because there is always crime happening, and if the character don't address those crimes then things will either gradually crumble into anarchy around them, or rapidly explode into rioting and revolution. As a GM, you don't need to define scene by scene storylines for players to be led through, but if you want to create cases for characters to investigate it fits within the premise, and you can always punctuate events with street crimes to react to when the pacing needs to be shifted. It's a fairly open world concept, characters can go wherever they want, they can be virtuous protectors of society, or corrupt monsters, but there are always expectations of them to keep a facade of order for the citizenry.


This is one of the reasons why I favoured Werewolf: the Apocalypse over most other games in the classic World of Darkness. There was an inherent drive in the story of an approaching spiritual apocalypse, monsters coming out of the shadows to destroy reality needing to be confronted, because if the player characters didn't confront them, then who would? Vampire: the Masquerade had it a bit, but that was more about personal stories confronting a struggle against a monstrous beast within. I always found it a bit more of an effort to tie together the stories from various characters unless there was a specific arrangement between characters to get involved in one another's stories, or unless some kind of metastory was added into the narrative, like turning the characters into local sheriffs for the Prince (which basically turns the game into the same sort of set up that I used for The Law). Mage: the Ascension was even more open ended, and even more in need of a coherent metastory to avoid spiralling into a lack of structure.

D&D/OSR seems to run to two extremes, either you have defined narrative in the form of scene by scene descriptions and the trope of dungeon exploration, or you have complete sandbox freeform. The idea of giving characters a push toward a direction, but without giving them an explicit path to take seems alien to many games within this paradigm of play. 

Yesterday's post looked at a specific set of story structure fragments for individual characters to follow. Today I'm thinking it might be necessary to create another metastory pocketmod booklet that frames those individual stories in a wider context. Warhammer Fantasy 4th Edition did something similar to what I'm thinking of, when it introduced a concept of party sheets.


In this idea, the party has it's own goals, and a basic mechanism that reinforced the types of stories that would naturally revolve around this type of group.   

So, to keep the game about spirits fairly open ended, but to maintain a degree of focus for the stories, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to develop a few of these booklets, which might have a range of trope scene types for the type of narrative described, along with ideas for goals, potential experience gains, and specific bonuses and penalties that might be commonly encountered. Such stories would probably have to provide a basic grounding, a starting point, rather than act as a restriction on the narrative. These are additional things that the characters can fall back on if they don't have the motivation to pursue something of their own. They would also probably have a few restrictions based on the membership of their group, where some might be limited to groups with certain character types in them, others might be limited to low or high level groups (or might explicitly require a mix). These group stories could be exchanged at any time, as long as the consensus agrees to such a change.

An idea here might be defending a specific territory in the mundane world, this would require characters who are able to interact with the world in some way, and who have some kind of vested interest in the integrity of the location.

Another idea might be acting as messengers of a pantheon of deities, roaming the spirit worlds. Such a story wouldn't require characters capable of worldly interaction.

A third story might be the discovery of an existential threat that could potentially infect, or even wipe out, regions of the spirit realms if not adequately addressed.

Characters may then confront the idea of whether it is better to fulfil the goals of the group, or their personal goals. That's the kind of decision making that really makes a game interesting for me. 

19 September, 2018

Stories of the Spirit World


It interesting that if I divide a character's journey according to their development in a power die from d4 through to d12, there is a rough correspondence to the development of character levels in the old-school BECMI progression. The 'B'eginner levels are where a character starts to understand who they are, and the 'E'xpert levels are where they start to understand how they as person fit into the wider world around them. The 'C'ompanion levels are where they start to become movers and shakers within that world, and the 'M'aster levels are where they gain dominion over the mortal world. The 'I'mmortal level is where characters confront the gods themselves and become so powerful that they transcend the world entirely.  


With that in mind, here's the basic description of the various pocketmods that would contribute to a character's story progression. This varies from "The Law" because that game assumes a basic progression through the ranks of a pseudo-paramilitary police force. In this game about spirits, things are a bit different, but then again, this game is about mysterious spirit realms where magic and paranormal power are far more powerful factors in play. Each story is a fragment of a path, and they can be mixed and matched to describe the development of numerous character types.

Level 1 (d4àd6)
Awakening – The story of a character’s journey from spiritual drone, through instinctive aptitude, and through to full sentience.  
Breaking the cycle – The story of a character who has existed as a minor bit part in a mythical story or archetypal dream, but who gains self-awareness and breaks free to forge their own story.
Flashbacks – The story of a character who has lived a long time, but has only occasionally interacted with the wider world, they accumulate their power by revealing the truth about their life so far (with revelations both positive and negative to explain why they are here).
Minor pact – The story of a character with little power of their own, and on the edge of chaotic oblivion, but who gains strength and stability by forging an alliance with a mortal in the central realm.
My name is… – The story of an amnesiac character who is starting to gain flashbacks of their former existence, until they regain enough of their life to begin moving forward again.
Sidekick – The story of a character who was stuck in a rut, but is broken free by a more powerful spiritual entity.
The first steps – The story of a character who is newly formed in the spiritual realms, coming to grips with the nature of their existence.
This isn’t like I remember it – The story of a character displaced in time or space, someone who had power/prestige/skill in their former life, but now needs to restart their path to power.

Level 2 (d6àd8)
Confronting my fears – The story of a character who lost power due to an incident that has left a long-lasting mark on their psyche, and how they learn to overcome it.
Cult – The story of a character who manipulates the central realm in ways that draw the attention of the mortals, and who learns to draw power from the emotions and beliefs of those mortals.
Lesser Foes – The story of a character who has a number of lesser adversaries across the spirit realms, and what they do to eliminate those foes.
Major Pact – The story of a character who has achieved a level of power, but has learned that making a major pact with a powerful figure in the central realm can be a path to something greater.
On my own – The story of a character linked to another through a pact or as a sidekick, and how they manage to achieve a destiny of their own.
Stability – The story of a character who had gained power too quickly and who had become unstable in the process, and the things they do to regain stability.

Level 3 (d8àd10)
Am I sure this is who I am? – They story of a character who has gained power, but feels the need to change their lifepath from the way they had been heading.
Arhat – The story of a character who has begun to recognize their obligations and ties to the world around them, and who starts the path to transcending dukkha and moving toward nirvana.  
Conqueror – The story of a character who has felt the call of nobility and dominion over those who surround them, and the actions they undertake in order to claim that power.   
Friends and enemies – The story of a character who develops a reputation, and has to deal with those who have been impacted by that reputation.
Greater foes – The story of a character who has made enemies in their journey so far, and who now has to deal with those enemies and their more powerful allies.
Hero’s Journey – The story of a character who is forced into a journey beyond their control, wherein they find and elixir, and return with it to their home.
More than the sum of my parts – The story of a character who has reached the limit of their innate power and who must now move beyond themselves to become something greater.
Sect – The story of a character who has started gaining followers, and how they lead those followers toward a base of power far greater.
Shadow of a nemesis – The story of a character who has drawn the attention of a single antagonist more powerful than themselves, and the ways they gain the power to confront that foe.

Level 4 (d10àd12)
Ascension – The story of a character who has gained mystic power, and begins a journey to deeper enlightenment and intuition into the deeper forces of the universe.
Avatar – The story of a character who has awakened an innate divinity, and must now complete a sacred task to take on their role as a member of a pantheon of celestial beings.
Bodhisattva – The story of a character who eliminated a great number of their worldly bonds, and who must now confront the essence of their inner being to become an enlightened being.
Legendary Tale – The story of a character who must now engage one of the great tales of the world, echoing the story of a mythical god or titan, to gain the legendary powers of that entity.
Religion – The story of a character with a great number of followers, and who begins the process of legitimising the faith of those who follow them.

Level 5 (d12à+)
Force of Nature – The story of a character who has become so powerful that they no longer have a meaningful understanding of what it means to exist as a mortal. This leads to them becoming an entity beyond time and space, an embodiment of a concept.
Godhood – The story of a character who belongs to a pantheon or who has numerous worshippers, where they now begin the process of creating a new realm of their own as the alpha and omega.
Transcendence – The story of a character who has confronted their inner nature, and who now must decide whether to become one with the buddha, or remain as an intermediary and guide to others on the immortal path


Every story element will be broken down into:
Tasks – which are commonly associated with the need to be completed. There will typically be three or four tasks associated with a story, and if a character attempts at least two of them during a session, they gain an experience point.
Risks – which may be associated with actions undertaken as a part of the tasks
Rewards – which may be gained when tasks are completed (these may come in the form of a specific range of abilities, special advantages, or attribute increases)
Thresholds – which are a specific type of task indicating the character’s progress through this story. Stories will generally have a number of thresholds equal to their level, progressing through a threshold typically requires a dedicated scene focusing on the character, and it may take more than one session of play to pass through them all (where it is typically expected that a character will pass no more than two thresholds per session of play). For every threshold passed earns an experience point.  
Resolution – which is a specific type of scene that may be confronted when all the thresholds associated with the story have been resolved (in one way or another). Successfully resolving the story grants an increase to the power die, while failing to resolve the story may have its own ongoing ramifications (at low levels this might simply require trying again, intermediate levels might see a loss of a ability/attribute/advantage, while the most advanced levels might see the instant death of the character).     

Pocketmod Plans

I've toyed with the idea of a game and a setting about spirits existing in quantum realms orbiting the core reality of consensual space a few times. Every time I've been hindered by a few fundamental concepts that have seemed insurmountable.

The first time was before I worked out any of the current stable game systems I'm utilising, then I looked at a game of modern magic revolving around familiars, and the spirits certainly overlapped that paradigm.

Now I'm thinking... "to hell with it, just do it".


It all links back into other projects at the moment, and I'm just felling like I need to spin things a bit while other elements of my life are in flux.

So here's the idea...

A campaign focusing around a bunch of limited duration playbooks. Each playbook written into a pockemod, a standard set of rules written into a single pocketmod, and a bunch of story arcs written into pocketmods.



Playbooks each describe a specific type of spirit, at the moment I can think of 9 types of spirit. Some might end up getting bundled together, some new types might be generated if there are noticeable gaps in play. The aim is that these playbooks define roughly a third of the character with specific mandatory elements, then provide some specific options to define another third, and the remaining third is basically given free rein from a variety of standard options that all characters can choose from. We'd be looking at a base range of attributes, a few skills, and some advantages that specifically reflect the type of spiritual entity portrayed by the book.

  • The Ghost - A character who was once a part of the central realm of existence, they retain a connection to it through their descendants and the legacy they have left behind. They are unable to enter the central realm except through possession and through limited gifts that allow them to manipulate or communicate with it. 
  • The Familiar - A character spawned of magical power, drawn to those in the central realm who are able to instinctively manipulate these energies and who act as catalysts for true magic among those who are willing to make bargains. They traverse the spirit realms looking for new ways to manipulate reality and retain stability as they are inherently unstable beings.
  • The Godling - A character born of the fractured avatar essence of a famous deity, they may be known in legend as a lesser god or demigod, but are more likely forgotten by mythlore, or have simply yet to make their mark. They need the beliefs of the central realm to sustain them, and have a specific sphere of influence related to their celestial parent(s). 
  • The Dreamer - A character who lives in the central realm but may be comatose, or capable of astral projection. Such a character is unable to enter the central realm, because their body already exists there, they have more stability than other character types, but less power also.  
  • The Elemental - A character who exists as a personification of a fundamental force underlying reality. They are somewhat alien in their thought patterns and hardwired into certain instinctive actions due to the elemental force that comprises their essence, but this also grants them significant powers within a specific sphere of influence. 
  • The Fragment - A character of the dream realms who feeds on the phantasms of mortal dreamers, but who is also shaped by those phantasms. Such a character might find it easier to manipulate the central realm by interacting with those who are asleep, hoping that any requests or information are capable to surviving the lucid barrier between sleeping and waking worlds when the dreamer regains consciousness.
  • The Nightmare - Like the fragment, but drawing power from darker emotions. Such a character finds it easier to manipulate the central realm, but is always considered an enemy by those who live there.
  • The Immortal - A character who transcended the mortal state, perhaps through alchemy or some dark pact. They have outlived their natural cycle in the central realm, and whenever they choose to visit the realm their mere presence sets up psychic ripples that alert the guardians of order to their presence. The have little in the way of magical power, but their knowledge and range of skills are incredible. 
  • The Alien - A character who has come from an entirely different collection of spirit worlds. What they consider normal may be very different to what entities from this realm consider normal. They may be completely missing certain abilities that most members of our collective realities consider second nature, but may have powers totally unfathomable to locals.
The Core rules pocketmod would basically be a stripped back version of the rules found in The Law. In fact this whole system idea could be used to create mysterious otherworldly entities capable of being portrayed as characters in that game. 

Story Arc pocketmods would each provide a range of ideas for story elements that would build toward a narrative arc including things that character would need to do within the context of their story, ideas for the types of actions that might be useful to that story, and ways for a character to gain experience within the scope of that story. These would also have specific thresholds to indicate when the story has moved from its introduction to its main body, and then climax, and finally a series of potential end conditions because no story lasts forever. Once a character has completed their story, they may choose to embrace a new story, but for these purposes I'm thinking that there should probably be levels of story (maybe something as simple as "basic"/"intermediate"/"advanced"), and a player will need to pick a higher difficulty of story if they wish to continue with this character. If I'm using the base system from The Law (The SNAFU system), then a character might have to complete a story arc before they are able to increase their hero die.

This all feels like it could work, but I'm worried about how much effort it will be to get the whole thing working smoothly.  


17 September, 2018

The journey awaits


As I sit here playing the waiting game, I have a hundred ideas that I want to start work on, but as I said in my last post, I really don't need to start on new stuff when there is existing stuff that needs to be finished off.

Part of the problem here is that more than 75% of my house is currently packed up for a move where I don't know where I'll be heading, and I don't know when it will occur.

I'm losing readers here at the blog, because I'm not particularly doing much interesting at the moment. People are moving on to other people with more exciting things to observe.

At the moment, I'm just sitting here working on more geomorphs and trying to avoid getting frustrated by bureaucracy. I'm just feeling like I need to do more, but don't know if I should start it out of fear that as soon as I get started, life will have a major shake-up and any new projects will be abandoned until life settles down again.

Anyway...here's some dungeon geomorphs with pipes on them.




Maybe it's time for a little project again, like a pocketmod. Maybe a pocketmod miniatures game?

15 September, 2018

False Starts

Two train trips this week meant two false starts on a new project.

I start things to keep my mind active, because grinding down on existing projects is often monotonous, and frustrating. The problem here is that I realise, once I get a bit into the "new" project that it isn't really new at all. Quite often I'm just retreading the same ground, or fusing together elements of two old projects.

It's like taking a massive journey, walking a few hundred metres from home, going back to the house and then starting another journey the next day. Even if you set out in different directions every day, you don't really get anywherr, but you do develop intimate knowledge of the local area around your house.

I feel like I've developed that intimate knowledge in a specific field of game design, but it doesn't feel like an area that many other people want to play in. It's adjacent to a few different more popular areas, and occasionally another designer will lead their players across my patch, bit their always using it as a stepping stone to somewhere else.

This week's starts looked at a simple miniatures exploration game using the modular dungeon fragments. But once I looked at them, I realised I'd already explored these ideas from various angles. One attempt started looking like a variant clone of Catacomb Quest, another attempt started looking like BYOM, a third version was looking like The Law.  

I started to wonder why I was even bothering with rewriting stuff I'd done previously.

So, instead of rewriting something that is very similar to unfinished projects I've already got on tne backburner, I'm going to add to an existing project and try to get it into a state that I'm happy showing to people. That means nailing down the BYOM rules, creating some sample starter characters and a few scenarios, then bundling together a playtest kit. Ra

12 September, 2018

Dungeon Geomorph 50

I've done 50 of these modular dungeon geomorph components now, and gradually I've been trying to push the envelope with them.

I've similarly generated about 40 tables to go with various maps (where a few of those tables have been applied to two geomorphs because they just worked... or because my muse fled as I was putting together the 10-map booklets).

Another 10 of these, and I'll be ready to upload a new batch to the store... then it might be time to take a break and work on some other projects for a bit.

10 September, 2018

Cycles

Between generating modular dungeon geomorphs, revising the quartermaster's/equipment guide for The Law, and tinkering with the 'Bring Your Own Miniatures' rule set, my creative game design work has been pretty busy lately.


That's meant I haven't posted much.

I remember a time when I was posting every second day, if not daily.

I'm even finding that I don't post daily pictures on my Instagram, but instead post batches of catch-up shots that I've taken over a week or so.


Life is ge erally in flux at the moment. I really want to do more of something, but I want that something to be meaningful. Maybe finishing off the 'BYOM' rules, or knocking out that equipment guide in the next week or two. 

At the moment, I've given up on the idea of exposure in the rpg or game design world... I'm just happy churning out work because that's what keeps my mind active. Maybe some time, a few years down the track, someone prominent will say "Hey, look at this guy! He's been doing the stuff we've been trying to do for years... and look at the catalogue of work he's produced." But if it doesn't happen, screw it, I'm doing what makes me happy.

04 September, 2018

Pipes

The Modular Dungeon project was primarily designed as a tool to quickly lay out a battle map for the "Bring Your Own Miniatures" system I was working on. As a secondary objective, it was intended to be versatile enough that it could be used with a variety of games that use grid based combat systems.

But the BYOM system isn't just a combat system, it is intended to have teams of miniatures fulfilling objectives and weaving together ongoing narrative. That means it's time to add some more variation to the maps... variation in the form of quirky things to do, objectives, and other elements.

To those ends... here are some pipes which will be embedded into one of the next batches of maps. I'll probably also include some pipe valves to be manipulated. 
 

03 September, 2018

Modular Dungeons - 1, 2, and 3

This morning I uploaded parts 2 and 3 for the Modular Dungeons project.

And I've just added a bundle that allows people to purchase the first three parts at a reduced cost.

That bundle can be found here.

A few people have already started purchasing the products in this new range, so that's always good.

I need to scan in a few more elements that I've drawn, and then I'll be able to start creating a few more of these. I'll be happy when there's 10 of these packs.


RPGaDay (Parts 21-31)


21. Which die mechanic appeals to you?

I like die mechanisms that provide good detail with minimal effort, some people refer to these ideas as rich resolution systems. One Roll Engine comes to mind as an example of this… D&D and Pathfinder are the opposite of this because they require a lot of effort with application of modifiers and sometimes reference to tables, before a simple pass/fail result is generated.

This is why I love the Otherkind die system. You roll a bunch of dice based on the number of problems your character is trying to avoid and the number of success criteria that might be associated with the task. Once dice are rolled, you allocate the results of individual dice to individual criteria. Each die has an outcome associated with a specific element, this way players can choose what is more important to their character at this point in time. It allows a stronger control of the narrative while keeping an element of randomness.

22. Which non-dice system appeals to you?

If I want randomisers in my game, I’ll often stick to cards which can be read for their rank and their suit, instantly creating a rich resolution system (richer than many die systems at least). If I’m not going with dice, I often prefer the LARP notion of using no system at all and relying on human nature, and player skill when it comes to manipulation of events and resolution of combat.

23. Which game do you hope to play again?

I hope to play something akin to Raven’s Nest again. It’s one of my long term goals to create a new incarnation of it, combining live action elements with miniatures, in an elaborate and spectacular set-up.  

24. Which RPG do you think deserves greater recognition?

The Law

But if it comes to games that I haven’t written, then my mind tends to gravitate to games that get more recognition than they deserve. If I had to pick something, then I’d consider a game like “Big Eyes Small Mouth” which was a stripped back system with a decent amount of crunch, it felt like it was influential toward to designs of many games I the years after it’s release, but there weren’t a lot of games that admitted to this influence. Maybe it was a case that these games referred to other games, which were in turn influenced by it… so the connection between games wasn’t as direct… maybe people didn’t want to directly indicate their inspiration from this game because it was never intended to be something serious, and was instead generally used to simulate anime.

As a spin-off of this, the “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai” game, which was a project branching off from “Big Eyes, Small Mouth”, deserves huge recognition as a game trying new things with a single-player/single-GM narrative format. I don’t recall seeing similar ideas in games for another decade or more.     

25. Name a game that had an impact on you in the last year

Relics by Steve Dee is a really interesting idea, and I love what he’s doing with it. I’ve discussed it a couple of times over the past year, but the first time I really played it was at EttinCon just over 6 months ago.

26. Your gaming ambition for the next year

At the time of writing, I’ve just sat my interview with the NSW Department of Education, with the intention of becoming a teacher of visual arts and industrial arts. I’m hoping to be posted a position in a school at some time in the near future, and in that school to set up a gaming club for students which will focus not only on play, but also on getting kids to design their own games. There has been some incredible work using roleplaying and gaming in the classroom across the Scandinavian and Northern European countries, and I’d really love to play with some of these ideas in classrooms of my own.     

27. Share a great stream/actual play

I’ve only started watching and listening to game streams and actual plays… sorry, but they have been boring me. I watch the screen and see that in a lot of cases there is an enthusiastic GM who drives everything, while a single player is engaged and most of the remaining players sit there bored waiting for their turn. Watching and listening to these reminds me of many of the worst elements of participating in a convention game under a bad GM… with the added problem that I know I can never participate in the game, so I’m stuck with those other bored people I’m watching.   

28. Share whose gaming excellence you’re grateful for

I’m grateful for an old friend named Michael Corbin who was running game conventions in the 1990s. This is the time when I first started going to conventions, and I ran a game session that he wrote. His advice really helped at the time, and prompted me to meet a number of other legends in the local game scene including folks who founded the “Australian Freeform” scene and pioneered some incredible concepts in live-roleplaying that are now being considered innovative as they are being discovered by the Jeepform and Nordic crowds.  

29. Share a friendship you have because of RPGs

The strongest and best friendship I have because of RPGs is my marriage. I met my wife at a LARP, I fell in love with her through LARP. We haven’t gamed for a while, but hopefully we’ll find another group to join soon.

30. Share something you learned about playing your character

Perhaps the most important thing that I learned about playing a character is the fact that you don’t always need to be the centre of attention, you can be the supporting character in someone else’s story and still have fun.

31. Share why you take part in RPG-a-Day

I love to share my ideas about games and love to read other people’s responses about similar subject matter. RPG-a-Day helps to build the gaming community, and it’s nice to feel a part of the community.   


29 August, 2018

New Geomorphs Available

I've been trying a few different techniques over on OneBookShelf/DrivethruRPG/RPGNow to see which ones are more effective at generating sales for me.

I've had quite a few of my games and gaming products for sale as Pay-What-You-Want, and these remain consistent sellers, but most people choose to pay nothing for them. This means exposure is building, but income isn't.

Adding The Law into a charity product bundle similarly didn't generate any more money for me, but it wasn't really about getting money, it was about contributing to a good cause, and getting a bit of exposure for a game that I'm pretty passionate about. almost 500 copies of the game went out in that lot.

Using the sales of The Law, I now had a list of emails in the OBS system. I used this as a promotional tool when releasing The Dispatch Guide, and within the first week sold half a dozen copies, which was a little faster than I normally would reach that point, but as a second book in a series (rather than a standalone rule set) I consider that a bit of a win. 
 
The attempt to get responses from the featured reviewers was basically a failure.



Today I've just released the first ten maps in my modular dungeon series. The nominal starting price for ten hand-drawn maps and ten random tables to go with them is $2, but I'm offering readers of the blog 50% off.

Here's the link

If this technique works, there will be a few more offers like this as I offer more map collections as a part of this series. If you want to share this post with other people, please do.


25 August, 2018

Reviews and Comp Copies

OneBookShelf has a function where a product can be sent to a group of reviewers. The idea is that this will get at least one of them to read through the product and provide a bit of feedback, because good reviews are one of the strongest promotional tools available to a new product.

When I released the Dispatch Guide for The Law a fortnight ago, I sent comp copies to their reviewer's circle, and figured I'd send a copy of the core rules for The Law along with it... after all, a GMs handbook makes more sense when the rules it refers to are also present.

I indicated at the time that I'd provide feedback on this feature... I can't remember if I made that indication here on the blog, or in one of the game design Facebook groups I'm a part of. Either way, a fortnight has passed, I've sold half a dozen copies of the Dispatch Guide, and a few more copies of The Law. I haven't had a single review from the reviewer's circle.

24 August, 2018

Transrobotism

So, the last post was on transhumanism, and it generated some decent conversation.


Then I saw this awesome post by Joshua Macy.

It provides robots as a character option for Space Crawl (which seems to be a sci-fi version of Dungeon Crawl Classics).

I could pretty easily convert some of these ideas to the SNAFU system, which is my working name for the game system underlying The Law.

Characters in this system start with d4 in each of the four attributes, then generally 4 dice upgrades, 4 abilities, 4 defences, and then a range of 3 upgrades that could improve elements in any of these three categories.

In The Law, two of the attribute upgrades (and two of the abilities), are defined by the character's caste. There are six castes, each increasing a different pair of attributes (and providing abilities associated with those skill increases). A series of automatic abilities are added to characters based on their training in the agency academy. Defences are added to each of the four attribute categories.

It really wouldn't take much to modify this system to accommodate for robots.

The first option would be to generate four basic robot chassis (what is the plural for chassis?), each focused on a single attribute type. This means that instead of two attributes upgraded by a single degree, a single attribute is increased by two degrees.

Heavy Duty: Physical d8, Social d4, Mental d4, Paranormal d4
Protocol: Physical d4, Social d8, Mental d4, Paranormal d4
Strategy: Physical d4, Social d4, Mental d8, Paranormal d4
Sensor Drone: Physical d4, Social d4, Mental d4, Paranormal d8

Next, would be to generate a series of core upgrade suites, which would be simple collections of an attribute upgrade and a pair of abilities. Each robot would begin with two core upgrade suites.

Examples...
Close Combat: Physical (+d2), Brawl, Assault
Construction: Physical (+d2), Endurance, Strength
Diplomacy: Social (+d2), Etiquette, Subterfuge
Infiltration: Physical (+d2), Movement, Stealth
Navigation: Mental (+d2), Navigation, Piloting, 
Nega-Psychic: Paranormal (+d2), Nega-Psychic, Occult
Paramedic: Mental (+d2), Awareness, Medicine, 
Ranged Combat: Mental (+d2), Shoot, Awareness

I really like the idea of robots being unable to be healed by medical abilities, but instead being repaired by crafting skills. I really doesn't take anything special to translate that concept across.

The idea of robot malfunctions works too. Instead of the typical negative conditions that human characters get when their attributes are damaged (such as the physical conditions of tiredness, disease, injury), a series of new conditions more appropriate to mechanical characters can be substituted.

Malfunctions can easily take the place of permanent battle scars, able to be repaired when the first few occur, but the more times a robot takes the type of damage that instils a long term malfunction, the harder it will be continue repairing it. Eventually, the software will need to be installed in a new chassis, and this could have permanent long term effects on the robot's digital psyche.

There's a lot more to think about here, and it could easily be a new spin-off game for the current setting... or at the very least, a new type of NPC for agents of the law to encounter.

22 August, 2018

Transhumanism

(If you have issue with any of this, let me know. I'm trying to wrap my head around some big concepts here, and I honestly believe that getting more opinions on the subject matter will give a more complete picture)

I generally fit into the mainstream of game designers. I'm white, I'm male, I'm generally cis and hetero, I have enough spare time to actually work on game design because I'm not working stupidly long hours on minimum pay to support a family. Yes, I've got a degree of privilege, I accept that, and I do what I can to take that into consideration when dealing with other people. I'm not in the US or the UK where there are bigger opportunities for networking, so I'll always struggle to get my voice heard over those folks who are in closer proximity to those hubs of game design, I'm not completely neuro-typical, but I've learnt enough to masquerade as neuro-typical to most people.

The reason I've started writing this post is to take a break from my "Quartermaster's" book for The Law. More specifically, what I'm taking a break from is the concept of cybernetics, implants and transhumanism.

I've got a few people in my circles who are transgendered, or otherwise experimenting with sexual identity and gender. Some of those people seem to be really nice folks who have been struggling with their identity for a long time and are continuing to understand their place in a world where they feel out of place. Some are folks who've found a comfortable identity separate to that which they were born into. I think this is great. But then there are those folks who are controversy magnets and who are in everyone's face about how no-one respects them for their identity and how badly they've been treated, and how the world is an abomination... I've alluded to these kinds of people in the past. There's nothing much I can do about them, and it feels like any course of action will have them proclaiming their martyrdom.


In the past few years, advances in 3d printing, increased understanding about neural networks and nerves, better electronics, and improved programming techniques have seen the concept of prosthetic limbs start to actually see what authors envisioned in the 1980s as a part of the cyberpunk future, but we're still a long way away from the cyborgs seen in Robocop, the full limbs that remain permanently attached to the body, or even the advanced optics embedded in an electro-mechanical eye. It still feels like the closest that we have to that sort of thing is gender reassignment surgery, and body modifications in the form of piercings, tattooing and implants, where this allows some kind of dramatic appearance change and an ability for individuals with body dysphoria to approach the form they envision within their minds. Yes, I understand that there are artificial hearts and other organs, but these aren't necessarily tools used to transform the appearance and match the physical form to the mental ideal, they're tools to improve the lives of those who have troubles with everyday functionality...

...but here's where my privilege kicks in. I've generally been happy in my body, and generally able to function in society, so it feels like there is a clear delineation in my mind, but to those who undergo such procedures I have to wonder if the same delineation is present.

At what point does a person undergoing procedures to become adequately functional in society, transcend the boundaries of what is normal and become something more (or just generally different) to human?

Is there a scale of body dysphoria?

  • Perhaps the lowest levels can be addressed by dressing in a different way or wearing makeup, that can be immediately altered or changed when things become uncomfortable.
  • Slightly beyond this might be cutting your hair short if you feel the need to express to the world that you don't conform to societal norms of femininity.
  • Further still, taking hormone altering medications, which again can be stopped at a later time, but will leave long lasting biochemical effects which might take a while to leave the system.
  • At a similar level to this we might see tattooing or piercing, which are significant surface alterations, but which can be stepped back later (there's a whole spectrum just within this).
  • Next, surgical procedures, such as implants, gender reassignment, etc. Such things are possible, but push the moral boundaries and become controversial.
  • Beyond this we're starting to push the envelope of science fiction when it comes to modifying the body to correct for body dysphoria. But where do we stop? In the seminal "America" series of stories in Judge Dredd, we see a character who loves his partner to an obsessive degree and when she dies, he has his brain surgically implanted in her body so that he can live through her. This is more than just gender reassignment, it's taking over a completely new host body, and it might as well be synonymous with having a brain implanted into a cyborg/robotic host body (except that everything is biological).
  • Altered Carbon touches on this to some degree and I'd really like to see where it takes things in future seasons, with characters existing as neuro-electronic "stacks", implanted in the upper neck/spinal column... the body is just a sleeve. This seems to be another level further.
Myself, I have colour blindness. I've wondered what it must be like to have "normal" colour vision, and if the optical technologies were available, wondered whether I would engage. But that makes me think of my financial status, and has also made me consider whether I'm just happy in my own body because I've never had the money to consider changing it. Is there a certain degree of privilege that comes with money and allows people to physically engage their fantasies to change their outside to match their idealised inside? Are there a lot of lower class people who just become resigned to the fact that they'll never attain their ideal body, and thus live out their lives in misery? Is this why many of the most prominent gay personalities in the media are rich and white...because they've got the rest of the associated privileges on their side, and thus are able to indulge their lifestyle as a whim? This all links into ideas of intersectionalism. The more a person deviates from the norm, the harder it is for them to reach that norm... what is the norm anyway, except for a social construct?

Why is a boob job or rhinoplasty considered socially acceptable for a woman, yet reconstruction of genitalia is considered taboo? Why was it considered so controversial when Meow-Ludo Disco-Gamma Meow-Meow implanted a travel RFID chip in his hand?

Is it all merely because of the conservative grip on global politics at the moment? A last ditch struggle to maintain control in the face of accelerating technology? I really don't know.

Does a game system require a "humanity" system when characters are upgraded with cybernetic parts? How do you determine what levels become trigger points for that system? Is it easier to simply replicate certain types of stories with the systems in a game, rather than trying to mirror the complexity of reality? What sorts of stories are being told with the systems, and how do they feedback into one another?

More questions than answers at the moment. I'll be thinking about these a bit, and welcome any input.

21 August, 2018

RPGaDay (Parts 11-20)


Since I’m doing these in batches of 10, it’s time to start working through the next sequence.

11. Wildest Character Name

I’ve had some crazy character names over the years. Sometimes offering them as a hint toward the type of character that I’m playing… there was “Sir Ashley Williams, Keeper of the Third Sacred Boomstick, and Scourge of the Undying”, it actually took players two years to work out that I had basically named the character “Ash” from the Evil Dead series.
One of the more interesting character names I used was for a character who walked into a LARP with no name. Based on the first conversation exchange the character, they became known as “No Kick Mushrooms”.    
There’s plenty of others, but these two come to mind first.

12. Wildest Character Concept

As mentioned, “No Kick Mushrooms” was a LARP character, and was a tiny goblin inhabiting a bio-organic power armour suit that was roughly human sized. This was modelled by using a painted green doll with a customised goblin head, and mounting it on my chest, under an armoured chestplate. The remainder of the costume was designed to look like pneumatics and clockwork.
In a non-LARP context, the wildest concept I played for a while was a sentient swarm of nanotechnology. That game didn’t last long, mostly because I’m usually the one running games, and the other GM decided that he rathered play than run things.

13. Describe how your play has evolved

When I started playing, back in the 1980s, I had already been hearing about games that had been running for 5 to 10 years. I wanted to be a part of one of those epic games that just kept going and going. From then, and ever since,
I’ve never been a part of a tabletop game that has run for longer than 2 years. It’s only ever been LARPs that have lasted longer.
I guess that being a part of the LARP community has distinctly taught me that the game doesn’t have to be about me. It’s fine to be the supporting character in someone else’s story, and sometimes it’s possible to have more fun balancing supporting roles in the stories of multiple other characters, acting as a catalyst to combine those stories into something bigger than their parts. 

14. Describe a failure that became amazing

In the Palladium game RIFTS, rune weapons are some of the most epic and powerful equipment available. I gave one of my players the opportunity to gamble for their character to gain a rune weapon. This was using a character that had been regularly played in weekly sessions for over a year, a character who had developed quite a bit of history and was quite significant in the campaign. He was literally given a 50/50 chance of either gaining the rune weapon or being removed from play forever. This was done by coin flip.
He lost.
We decided that the character was stuck doing “menial chores for Satan”, and he kept popping up in other campaign for the next few years, tying together plot lines and adding a sense of consistency to many otherwise disparate games and campaigns. Twenty-odd years after the event, people are still talking about the guy who does “menial chores for Satan”, and apparently he’s been showing up in other people’s campaigns in the decades since too.

15. Describe a tricky RPG experience that you enjoyed

The first time I LARPed , I didn’t really know what I was  doing. It was a World of Darkness ongoing LARP campaign, and I was playing a werewolf…but the only people I knew in the game were playing vampires, and the werewolf players were insular and didn’t accept me as a part of their clique. As an isolated werewolf, who was trying to do the right thing, it was hard.
In the end, I just embraced the idea that this character was destined to be corrupted by vampire blood, and that they’d follow a downward spiral through the rest of their story. For three years we kept thinking this character had reached rock bottom, but in every situation we found that there was further darkness and depravity to explore. This character ended up being the big bad villain to one year’s season of storylines, but was never killed. A vampiric werewolf infected by the Vicissitude virus, and attended to by demon worshipping magi. Certainly not what I was intending when the character started.   

16. Describe your plans for your next game

I have no idea when my next game will be, but I’m suspecting it will take place once I’ve moved house to the country areas of Australia and have started my teaching job. That means I don’t know who I’ll be gaming with, whether I’ll be running a gaming club for high school students, for other teachers who are into gaming, or whether I run into an existing group of gamers.
My plans and preparations at this stage have generally revolved around developing a few sectors for “The Law”. These plans have involved placing locations, populating those locations with assorted characters, then linking those characters together through a relationship map. This includes clustering characters together into cults, corporations, street gangs, and secret societies, it also means establishing key objects that they might want, and understanding how the environment might change politically and socially when certain character actions occur.
I suspect that these plans will probably see publication as a supplement for “The Law” before they ever see my tabletop.    

17. Describe the best compliment you’ve had while gaming

A few times at conventions, I’ve been fairly packed with players for my sessions, with potential room for people to join as a pick-up game if they need to. One of he greatest compliments I’ve ever received in gaming is when a player has already payed for a session of my game, and then as paid money to play my game again even when other games are available at the convention.  

18. What art inspires your game?

What art doesn’t?


This is one of those questions that has many answers depending on the type of game being played. I used to love the simple lines and vibrant colours in the art of Chris Foss, and that informed a lot of my sci-fi gaming, but arguably not as much as the artwork of HR Giger.
At the moment though, I’m more inspired by the artworks of the artists around me on G+ and various other social media platforms. Folks like Matthew Adams, Dyson Logos, Stuart Robertson, Bradley K McDevitt, James Shields, and so many others.
  
19. What music enhances your game?

Again, it all depends on the game. I remember a great series of games set during the Vietnam War, with a soundtrack of classic rock and roll hits of the era.
One of the best game soundtracks actually came from one of the Battletech computer games of the mid 90s. That game came on a CD-rom, but if you put the CD into a standard CD player it was possible to access the audio tracks, including a series of heartbeat tracks which were presented in order on the CD according to the speed of the heartbeat. This meant I could put the CD on constant single-track repeat, then simply shift the disc forward of back a track depending on the intensity of the situation. High tension, fast hearteat…low tension, slow heartbeat.  

20. Which game mechanic inspires your play the most?

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows that I love the “Otherkind Dice” mechanic, so much so that I’ve been using it as a direct inspiration for a number of the games that I’ve written over the years. I think gaming is best when it makes the players confront difficult decisions, and this mechanism makes almost every situation a narrative dilemma that has serious ramifications on the ongoing story. Choose to succeed with a cost, or fail without a cost…both are interesting choices.


Vignettes from The Sprawl

I've been sharing my progress with the mini-comics I've been writing and illustrating for "The Law", and a few people have started commenting on how much their enjoying the comics, and whether they might end up relating to a larger comic series.

Honestly, at this stage I'm not sure.

I'm happy writing four page comics, and maybe expanding those to six or eight pages... and themes or elements from those comics will crossover between the sequences that I'm producing, but this project isn't about the comic book, the comics are being written to support the game.

The current comic is one of those four page sequences, that will get a couple of extra pages scattered through the book it's presented in. It relates to a mysterious object that needs to be identified.





A follow up pair of pages for this comic will go into rule explanations about identifying things, and making things.

It includes two of the characters who will probably make regular appearances across a number of comics, just like the first comic included a pair of characters who will make regular appearances. I'm probably going to run with a roster of about five different agents, and a dozen citizens (some of whom will be obvious criminals, some of whom will be individuals with skills that are useful to the agents, and some of whom will be morally grey). I'm also making sure that there is a decent diversity range among the depicted characters with a mix of genders, skin tones, and other elements (while trying to avoid tokenism)

20 August, 2018

In the 1980s, the Traffic Authority of New South Wales released a number of booklets on cycle safety named "The Bike Book". These were serious books about what kids needed to be aware of when riding bikes in public spaces such as parks, paths, and roads.

No, that's not actually true at all.

They released a series of books under the pretence that they were serious booklets on cycle safety, but British comedian Spike Milligan had scrawled all over them with jokes, funny insights, and surreal additions to the text. The basic in for action in the book was carefully laid out and typeset, and Spike's handwriting and crudely drawn sketches were scrawled across the pages. Sometimes chunks of text were scribbled out, sometimes he'd make comments about how certain aspects of the text were fine in theory but didn't work that way in reality, often he'd underline bits and agree with it.

There were three levels of book. One for "small" kids, which had innocent and naive scribblings, jokes and helpful hints. One for "medium" kids, where the jokes were a bit more mature and the safety advice reflected kids with a bit more independence. One for "big" kids, where the elements were more risque again, and even adult oriented.

These books always stuck in my mind as a fun and informative element of my childhood, and I've long wanted to produce a game book that worked like them. Formal rules typed, and a scrawl from one or more people through the pages, highlighting how the typed text only goes so far but the real world is a lot messier.

I'm suspecting that one of the future supplements for "The Law" will fit this mould. 

17 August, 2018

Game Chef 2018

"Speedwalking".. seriously?

Here's my first idea...

My first thought for Game Chef is just called "My Druitt", but I'm sure that any suitably Bogan suburb can be substituted. 
It's about weed dealers who "weigh" their stock, and roll their "blunts", while wearing Ugg boots (to cover the "sheepskin" ingredient). To avoid suspicion from police, they have a tendency to "speedwalk" rather than run. 

Theirs are the "lost stories" because too much pot smoking has started eroding their brains... or perhaps the adventures occur while they are stoned.

Yes, I know you only need two ingredients, but it's always more challenging to add more.

I probably won't use this idea, as it's very "Sydney-centric" and many of the in-in-jokes that would comprise the entry would lose some of their meaning outside of Sydney, and possibly be rendered meaningless beyond Australia's shores.

16 August, 2018

Further Law Books

Too many books...not enough time to write them all.

I've now released the main rules for The Law...


...and the Dispatch Guide.


I'm currently working on The Quartermaster Inventory Records (which is doing that typically cyberpunk thing where you get a list of awesome equipment, as well as a bunch of rules to describe how to make your own equipment for the game), and following that will come the Agency Field Manual (which will basically be a players guide, with a variant method of character generation, and a few ideas about how to get the most out of a game). Then there will be a "Most Wanted" book (with some sample characters, the types of crimes they might need to be investigated for, and the ways they might function as long term characters feeding plots over multiple sessions).

I'll need to produce seven books for the seven castes who live in the sprawl (management, fanatics, militia, cultists, street, mutants, drifters), and then maybe some books providing information on vigilantes who protect the sprawl when the Agents of the Law aren't around. Then a book on magic and psychic powers (which will link into the "Familiar" game).

I've also got half written books about developing random sectors, buildings, corporations, cults, and even just regular NPCs. Once a few of these books have started coming out, I'll probably start looking at getting some collaborators to help illustrate or help write chunks of text to add a bit more variety to the voices in the work.

I had a listing of 30 books worked out at one stage, with the intention to release one every month or two, but since it's taken over a year between the release of the first book and the second, we'll just see how things go.

The aim at this point is still to get the Quartermaster Inventory Records out in the next couple of weeks, and the Agency Field Manual released before the end of the year.

13 August, 2018

The Forgotten Places

No, not the Forgotten Realms, just other places that I've forgotten about for projects that have been abandoned.

Earlier this week I found one of my old sketchbooks with some half finished pencil sketches and some sketches that had been partially inked. I've spent a bit of time working on the images, now I just need to work out what do do with them.

Other Media

I've uploaded the Dispatch Guide, and I've noticed that the RPGNow/DrivethruRPG file for the core rules of The Law were out of date, so  they've been corrected and updated.

With this range of corrections, updates, and new releases, I've decided to play with a few new features on the site. They may not be new for other people, but I've not used them before, so it will be interesting yo see what impact they have. I'm using the customer email tool and sending review copies to the list of featured reviewers. I'll offer some feedback on those once a week or so has passed, because at that point I should have a useful period to reflect back on.


Meanwhile, I'm wondering about whether to engage in other media forms. I'm thinking about YouTube videos or a short form podcast. The question is whether people want to hear my voice, or whether I can produce something good enough that it actually helps what I'm trying to achieve rather than hindering it.

Then I think to myself that if raving right-wing lunatics can do podcasts and YouTube videos, and get tens of thousands of followers... how hard can it be?