Showing posts from 2019

I think it's working...

This whole process is taking a while.

It's that tedious part of the process where tables have been drawn up, and now the data is being populated into them. This means the whole project isn't ready for public consumption yet, but it feels like it's getting closer.

I'm looking at four phases of character generation, with each phase lasting six years of the character's life. 0-5 infancy, 6-11 childhood, 12-17 adolescence, 18-23 maturity... characters may start at an age of 24+.

Because each phase is 6 years, six dice are rolled to determine what connections and relationships the character has made during their life... each spreading the potential range of relationships; genetic, family, community, abstract concepts... if a player rolls doubles, triples, or other combos for their character, they gain access to special life events.

Since we're rolling six dice, doubles are fairly common (providing quirky stuff), triples not so much (so these provide some more exotic…

Pinterest Board

I've started a Pinterest Board that I've called "Walkabout Inspiration". There's another two that I call "Abandoned Places" and "Sci-fi/Costume Inspiration" that both overlapped some of my inspirations for the setting, but these aren't as focused as this new board is... or, more accurately, they are focused, but not quite on the direction of Walkabout.

If you're interested in the way I'm hoping to visually take the setting, please follow the board. I expect that it will grow in size over the next few months, and I will probably direct any potential artists and project collaborators in the direction of the board when I'm ready for them.


I've considered this idea a few times, but it's creeping back.

The core rules for a game fit on a single sheet, and the entire character sheet fits on two sides of a bookmark. The important bit is the character's story,  and this is written out in a diary. The character sheet/bookmark is used to mark the place in the diary where the character is up to. When the adventure is over (or when travelling between towns), we can skip some pages until the next important events begin. If a character dies, their diary becomes an in-game journal and artifact of the setting. Future characters can find these as they resolve their own stories, perhaps finding clues that help their own stories.

A diary used for these purposes would track other people met during a character's journey, as well as any character development that might impact the story for more than a couple of days (such as new skills, serious injuries, reputation/infamy, etc.). Each day should have enough room to write a…

After effects of Apocalypse

It's now been over a month since the fall of G+, and it's been 3 months since I've shifted a lot of my life's focus to my new role as a teacher... Here at the blog it's been a bit apocalyptic, a complete change of paradigm, I may not be posting as much, but when I have posted I've tried to actively share to a few places. This means that instead of automatically posting and getting responses on G+, I've had to manually share to Vulpinoid Studios groups on Facebook and MeWe, as well as personal accounts on Pluspora, MeWe, Facebook, and anywhere else that I remember I've got a presence. Posts have been shared to other game design groups too...

...but I'm back to getting silence and crickets on most of my posts, and occasionally a single comment on other posts. So I'm doing exponentially more work per post, and getting back exponentially less response. I don't want to spam people with more shares, but I'm wondering about the best way to mov…

Resolving the Cognitive Dilemma

How much of our daily activity is instinctive? How much is trained? How much requires cognitive deliberation? How much not? Does it really take 10,000 hours to master a skill?

My earlier thoughts on the development of characters and the acquisition of new skills, or the improvement of inherent abilities are mired in the dilemma of realism, and what realism actually is.

Walkabout may be a game about people making decisions, it may also be a game about characters who derive their powers from their relationships to the world around them, but it transcends those too. It's a game about heroes linked to the spirit world.

Regular people in this setting often spend a big percentage of their time simply surviving, it is only in recent decades in the setting that people have been able to shift their focus toward non-"survival oriented" skills, it's only in recent years that the old technologies have had any chance of returning to the world. (That's not entirely true, the…

Cognitive Development

Since I've now got a post-doctorate degree in education, and I'm working as a teacher, I've been exposed to a lot of ideas about how we learn and how our brains work. A lot of these ideas conflict with each other, and they also conflict with the way roleplaying games handle experience and character development.
There are probably ways that these various ideas can be fused together, but there are numerous ways to link these ideas together, and many textbooks discredit certain ideas while promoting the concept that match the agenda they're trying to push. It basically reminds me of the way roleplaying games handle firearms... as soon as you start trying to push for realism you'll get different "experts" who claim that different elements of the play mechanisms are accurate, and other parts aren't, and you'll find that few of these "experts" agree with one another. Similarly, by the time you start to incorporate enough elements to make anyth…

Walkabout Opening Monologue

Here's what I'm currently thinking. I'm not sure if it feels quite right yet, I'm sure it will undergo a few revisions and changes before the final version.

"This game was written on the lands of the Tharawal, the Barapa Barapa, the Yorta Yorta, and the Wiradjuri people. It was written in consultation with elders and other members of the Tharawal, Wiradjuri, and Kamilaroi people. It is hoped that the writing and the concepts expressed within its pages pay appropriate homage and honour to the stories and beliefs of these indigenous communities and the lands where they make their homes.
This game tells stories, and those stories are both social and political. It is a game that tells stories about relationships between people and the land, between people and the communities around them, between people and the spirits that give them life.
This is a game of analogy and metaphor, it is about belief and how people who try to understand the world through metaphors sometim…

Other projects

More of my time lately has been dedicated to my work as a teacher... for those interested in what I've been doing there, here's some photos of a current project developed as something for students to aspire to.

Still some work to do, but I'm pretty happy with the way things are turning out.

Random Character Generation in Walkabout

I currently have a working document on my computer entitled "Walkabout Revision 2019". It includes a revision on the seven core cultures that make ip the world, and is gradually filling out with adaptions from The Law, along with other ideas that I'd like to see in this latest version of the game. I'm hoping it diesn't end up like the 2014 and 2017 revisions of the game that still linger on a hard drive somewhere but never got released.

At the moment I'm working on a new character generation system combining a character's randomised parents, giving them some automatic elements based on these, then giving them a series of potential life path options to flesh the character out as they get older. Young characters might have less of these advantages, older characters find it harder to heal their wounds and fatigue, but they start with more advantages from their lived experience.

I'm still not completely sure how it's all going to work, but hopefully I…


For those who are interested, I've put together a formal sheet of my commission prices for illustration or cartography.

Here's the sheet.

As I post this up, I can see a couple of grammatical errors, so it might change again soon, but it's basically the same prices I've been quoting to people for the past few years.

15 Upgrades

I've looked at the starting characters in "The Law".

If we assume the baseline for a named character is:
One point in each attributeNo skills/abilitiesOne defence in each abilityNo edges, advantages, or equipment ...and we assume that each type of upgrade is roughly equal...

...then a starting "Agent of the Law" has 15 upgrades.
They start with a total of:
Eight points spread across the attributes (that counts as 4 upgrades)Seven skills/abilities (that's another 7)One defence in each ability (but they may have forfeited skills to gain extra defences, at a 1-to-1 ratio)Four pieces of equipment (which is the final 4, adding up to a total of 15) The baseline character is below average, the die rolling system generally means they are more of a liability to their allies than an advantage. The starting "Agent of the Law" character is slightly more likely to succeed on actions, and slightly less likely to cause additional sacrifices. This is a good thing, …

Focusing in on the lifepath

(Yes, I've changed the format of the blog... there might be a few more changes oved the next few days as it settles into a new style.)

Numerous times over the years, I've commented on how I love the lifepath system in Cyberpunk 2020, and how I love the career progression system in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying. Trying to get a good hybrid between the two of them has been a long term goal for 20 odd years. Sure, I've done plenty of other things too, but this has always sat in the back of my mind as something I'd like to reconcile.

No game system is completely balanced. Even carefully designed point-buy games can't be completely or perfectly balanced because they don't (and arguably can't) take into account the nuances of activity as the game interacts with players at the table. A balanced point system sees a social butterfly character having more narrative agency than a lethal swordsman if the game revolves around political intrigue, while in a combat game t…

What makes a Walkabout Character?

The SNAFU system asks players to roll 2 or more input dice, then allocate the bast two results between the outputs of "success" and "sacrifice". Higher rolls are always better (more successes gained, less sacrifices required). The base dice used by characters are based on their attribute most applicable to the situation, and the die representing the strength of their calling. Skills and natural aptitudes apply a flat bonus to a die result of choice before the output is determined; having multiple skills applicable to a specific situation doesn't give more of a bonus, it just gives variable ways of addressing the matter at hand. Specific equipment, situations, and advantages are where players gain extra dice beyond the basic two.

When upgrades are made to a character, a die may be increased in size (where dice are used widely across a range of tasks), an ability may be added (which is narrower in scope, but offers a higher bonus), a defence may be gained (which …

The Calling

One of the fundamental things that has become integrated into the way I see the Walkabout RPG is the idea of "The Calling". This has come from both my work with indigenous communities in the last few years, and my development of the alternate game "The Law".

But what is "The Calling"?

Let's give the easy description first...

In "The Law", characters are given a rating in their Rank. The Rank is symbolic of how competent they are and how others view their degree of competency. When players can quickly reference the source material that inspired the game (Judge Dredd, Robocop, Ghost in the Shell, etc.) They can see specific examples of characters at different levels of competence and gain an understanding of how their character fits into the scale. Rank is designed to be something that increases gradually, perhaps a single increase at the end of a multi-session story arc. The ultimate embodiment of the law in Megacity One is Judge Dredd, he co…

Plug and play

When you start playing a game that uses a point buy system, it's a bit like playing with a pile of Lego. There are numerous ways to put things together, and you can probably make a wide variety of things that work with the constructions of the GM or the other players, but there is far more opportunity to make something that just doesn't make sense in the GMs intended story, or just doesn't work with the constructions devised by the other players.

That's where the "session zero" comes in. Everyone gets on the same page, characters are developed from a mutually understood set of ground rules. A part of the session zero is the choice of game being played, so this post is assuming that choice has been made and all the players are on board. But more of what I'm thinking about at the moment is the development of a series of template fragments that might be linked to a specific story concept. To follow the Lego analogy that started the post, it's equivalent …

The Flotilla

When I live in a place that looks like this...'s hardly surprising that I've started to take a more nautical interpretation of the post apocalypse.

I've been seeing houseboats like this...

...travelling up and down the river, and that has naturally given me ideas for river nomads. In turn, this has seen me drawing up plans for their boats.

But there are a few other types of boats that also ply the local waterways, such as fishing pontoons, and smaller craft.

That led me to some kind of floating trading port in the middle of the river.

I'm not sure if that's where the river theme will end, or even how much the riverfolk will factor in the new revision of Walkabout, but it's certainly a new point of difference compared to other post-apocalyptic settings.

Winds of Change

Wow, time flies. I used to update this blog at least twice a week. There were even periods when I'd update it daily. But now I look at it, and it's almost been a month since my last post.

At this stage I'm still acclimating to a new world. This is a place that exists far from any city, it almost feels like the apocalypse would come in the cities while the regional centres would feel a slight blip on their radars, and the country towns like my new home would just go on existing...

...I'm meeting old farmers who exist like immortals who have lingered too long in the world, overseeing their family dynasties, remembering the passing of ages... I'm meeting those who've lived their whole lives here, whether townies or farmers, not knowing the ways of the city at all... then there are those like me who've fled the cities to make a new life.

My plans for Walkabout don't seem too far off the reality that I'm seeing here.

I've started retyping the game, p…


When I moved to this part of the world, I tried to find out how to get in contact with the local indigenous community. The first few people to give me an answer generally told me... "we don't have any".

That rang alarm bells for me, because I'd seen from a few sources that I'd moved into traditional Barapa Barapa lands. Here's an example website that shows this. But I've also seen images of indigenous massacres since colonialism, and there's a notable marking in this part of the country.

I'd been told by a couple of people that they'd be interested in hearing the story of indigenous communities here, and what happened to them, but I'd also been told that there might be some people with a strong interest in keeping those stories unknown.

Either way, I really want to do something relating to the river, probably as a sourcebook for Walkabout. The name of the river on maps is the Murray, but in one of the indigenous languages it's referred…

The Gaming Desert

I have moved to a literal and metaphorical "gaming desert".

A fortnight of days over 40 degrees celsius, roaming kangaroos and emus, eagles with two metre wingspans (or more), fish weighing over 100 kg are known to be caught in the nearby river...

...and I literally live adjacent to a region known as Thule.

(I'm at the blue dot)
The local general store has a limited range of warhammer figures in it, but is selling them out cheap because the last wargamers left town months ago. Other nearby towns seem to have wargaming clubs but I don't know of any roleplayers in the area so far.

On the other hand, there is a wealth of historical information and anecdotal data to flesh out "Walkabout" when I get started back into that project.

Nothing further to be said.

I believe women. I believe Mandy Morbid. I believe Heather, Jennifer, and Vivka. Their abuser cannot debate, intimidate, or manipulate me into silence. There is no place for abusers among us.


Lack of posts

I had great intentions to start this year off with plenty of posts about all sorts of things, but moving house has taken it's toll.

Hopefully some more posts are on their way soon.

Here's some shots of the move so far.

Where to Find Me

With G+ closing down, an online friend (Kit La Touche) has come up with a way to track people in their various social media homes. I thought it was a great idea and have decided to share it with you all.

Other Strangeness Character Guide

After reading bits and pieces of the 500 odd pages comprising the two starter books for the new FFG edition of Legend of the Five Rings, I'm looking at the pocketmod books that form the basis of my Other Strangeness game. I'm undecided...

...a lot of that 500 pages is providing context and background information for the setting, or explaining how elements of play tie into that setting. Since Other Strangeness is generally designed to use the real world as a basis for it's play environment, then modifies it according to the collaborative choices of the game's players, it doesn't really need this.

The actual rules of the FFG game are a bit convoluted, and feel a bit counterintuitive at times, they're partly explained multiple times in a way that builds up the concepts from various perspectives. The way these fundamental rules are explained could fill multiple pocketmods, each of which doesn't actually explain the rules... as an example, I've had to page …

City Trip

The big move is coming, so I took one last trip into Sydney with my wife to make sure I spent my store credit at Games Paradise, and do those things in the city that just won't be possible living a few hundred kilometres from any kind of metropolis.

A few urban referenced shots were taken, comic shops were visited, Chinese baked goods were consumed, as was sushi, quirky stationary stores were explored...

...these are things I'll miss about living in Sydney, particularly the way certain parts of it look just like they belong in a cyberpunk setting, and other parts look no different than I've remembered them for decades.

I particularly went in to get myself a copy of Blades in the Dark, but the store was out of stock, so Leah ended up getting Sushi Go Party Edition...

...and I got the starter books for Fantasy Flight's incarnation of Legend of the Five Rings.

I'm digging through these now, and might have a bit of a review shortly. But the way house packing and moving…

Current List of Potential Animals to Mutate

One of the things that always bugged me about the Palladium game "TMNT and Other Strangeness" was the fact that most of the animals available were mammals, with a lesser number of birds and reptiles... I think there might have been a couple of amphibians in the mix, but certainly no fish, and the only insects or invertebrates in the game appeared much later in the "Mutants in Orbit" supplement as monstrous NPCs.

One of the things about the TMNT comic is that it had anything and everything among the characters in its pages.

So, with that in mind, I've been deliberately creating a list of character options that cover all those other non-mammalian critters, and have aimed to focus on drawing a lot of those mutants to explore potential options that many players might not consider as immediately fun.

Here's the current listing, which isn't comprehensive at all, but tries to cover a wide variety of different animal types. I'll probably narrow down the lis…

Other Strangeness GM Guide

Here's the second part of the updated rules for Other Strangeness. In this case it's the guide to the player who facilitates the flow of the story. Note that this is not the player who provides the story, because like in the other games generally produced by Vulpinoid Studios, the story is a collective endeavour that unfolds organically as the characters engage with the world around them.
Here's the link to the pocketmod.
There will probably be additional hints about running things scattered through the other pocketmods in the system, but this should be enough to get a group started.
The next booklet will be the guide for players to create characters, then a guide to create locations that might function as characters hideouts or places of interest, and then a guide to creating items. after that I'll present a few sample characters, places, items, and story hooks, before finally offering the various animals, cultures, and occupations that allow players to make a diverse…

Other Strangeness Core Rules

I've experimented with a few release formats over the years, sometimes offering products as PWYW, sometimes offering them free of charge, sometimes just hoping they'll get a bit of exposure toward products I intend to sell at a bit of a profit. I still haven't worked out the best option, but here's my current plan... the current incarnation of Other Strangeness occurs as a series of pocketmods, but it's also foreseeable that the game will be printed on a series of cards and distributed in a small tin of some kind. It's designed to be a simple little pick-up and play game.

After the first alpha draft release. there was some feedback from a few sources that the font was a bit hard to read. So here's an amended version of the core rules for the game. Character creation rules are coming shortly, along with a few other necessary components for play.

Here's the Core Rules Link

RPGs in the Classroom

I've been interested in the idea of using RPGs in an educational context for a while. So when I was alerted to this article about using D&D in a STEM setting, it got my interest.

This is something I'm going to try working on this year, as I head out to a rural community to teach practical crafting and artistic skills, and whatever else I end up teaching. I'm hoping to find a few more scholarly articles, to back up my plans, and justify the ideas if I'm queried.

I've often found people in my gaming groups have an overwhelming desire to learn quirky facts to inject them into games at critical moments, or use obscure knowledge to justify actions attempted during a game, so the aim would be to instill this curiosity in a group of students... getting them to want to learn, so that they might gain advantage in whatever game I run.

Similarly, if I choose to run domethong crunchy, then the addition multiplication and modification of numbers becomes a mathematical exerc…

Other Strangeness Version 2.0

I've shared various elements of the new incarnation of my mutant animal game in a few places. Mostly to private groups on various social media platforms to get some preliminary feedback. The first round of that feedback has come in, and now I'm ready to share it with a wider community.

This next round of sharing will be done over the next few days, with the game released in pocketmods each day. One for the core rules, one for character generation, a GM's guide, etc... until the whole initial playset is shared. I'm suspecting about 8 pocketmods at this time. Keep an eye out over the next couple of days, and let me know what you think.

Russian Translations

Thankyou Yu. Sergeeva for your translation of one of my blog articles into Russian. It's always great to know that my thoughts and writings are being read by people in various parts of the world and that my small contributions might be influencing other parts of the design community.

I probably wouldn't have even noticed this ping on my radar except for the experiment I did last month where I didn't make any posts at all on the blog and simply looked at the traffic every couple of days to see what happened. Strangely there was s little bump of traffic from a Russian site, and it didn't look like a porn site so I investigated... it looks like I'm even a hashtag over there, with my entire 'Worldbuilding 101' series translated to Russian. This was a little series I'm pretty proud of, so I consider this a great piece of flattery and praise. It makes the whole effort feel worthwhile.

So bad it's almost decent

My nephew was given three games for Christmas.

He got a starter set for Warhammer 40k... that's going to be an expensive hobby for him if it takes hold.

He also got the D&D 5th edition starter set... which is also going to be an expensive hobby.

I'll probably get roped into runn9ng a few games of each. Since I've bern collecyinb miniatures for 25 years and have been roleplaying for about 30. I can see both of these games really hooking him if he gets the right crowd, but can also see him turning away if he has a couple of bad experiences. We'll see how things go.

It's the third game that I found surprising.

I despise Monopoly, and I've generally avoided Fortnite, but no one else wanted to play the game against my nephew so I took the hit for the team. I figured he'd get bored and I'd only end up wasting an hour or so.

The basic premise of the game follows some of the tropes of Monopoly, moving around the board, collecting properties, going to jail, …