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?

12 August, 2018

Dispatch Guide

After a long and arduous process, and numerous other issues getting in the way, it looks like The Dispatch Guide for The Law is ready to go live. Hopefully by this time tomorrow there might be a couple of sales.

11 August, 2018

RPGaDay (Parts 1-10)

I'm not really doing this in the proper manner. In previous years I've answered a question every day, but this year I'm just going to run through the question in three batches of 10 each.

On with the responses...

1. What do you love about RPGs?

There are so many answers to this question, but I'll narrow it down to three of the things I love most about RPGs.  The first is the way they allow players to experience things that they would be unable to engage in their regular lives, in this way they provide a safe place for experimentation and a liminal space for players to make choices that can be confined to a narrative space and a close group of friends. The second element plays into this as well, and that is the way RPGs are a social activity, they allow players to get to learn about one another through their characters, I've met so many friends this way. The third is the way RPGs prompt the imagination and act as a catalyst for learning, I'm actually planning to use RPGs in my classroom when I finally manage to get my accreditation as a teacher.

2. What do you look for in an RPG?

When I'm looking at new RPGs, I look for an evocative setting, coherent mechanisms of play, and the potential to tell good stories with it. I can tell stories with any game, but if there are mechanisms of play that promote specific types of stories then that's good, if it's a type of story that isn't necessarily supported by other games then that's a bonus. Games that don't particularly draw my interest are those that simply provide a generic setting, or a similar batch of mechanisms to numerous other games... such games really need to do something unique and incredible to add a twist to their setting/mechanisms to get my attention.

3. What gives a game 'staying power'?

Versatility and adaptability keep a game interesting over the long term. I find that games that only do a single thing well become predictable and monotonous, and in turn this reduces the longevity of the game. Similarly, the balance of a character's ability to advance, versus the effort necessary to get that advancement is a delicate balancing act. If advancement is too easy, then a game may not feel challenging, and instead feels overly simplistic...conversely, if advancement is too difficult, then the challenges may not feel worth engaging. I guess that for me, there are more criteria that render a game lacking in 'Staying Power' ad it's only if a game doesn't have these that it has the potential to be a good long term game.

4. Most Memorable NPC?

The most memorable NPC I encountered was a vampire pirate, he was named 'Janaan Baraka' from a  character in a CCG (I think it was 'Legend of the Burning Sands'). This was a character who got by on his reputation more than anything else. He surrounded himself with competent assistants, each of whom helped maintain the facade that he was an incredibly competent warrior and sorceror. I remember numerous people in a LARP being quite scared of this character, and it was only later when the truth was revealed that the cleverness of this character and his story became apparent.

5. Favourite Recurring NPC?

My favourite recurring NPC is simply referred to as 'Old Jed'. He has occurred in fantasy games, cyberpunk games, and even far future science fiction games. Old Jed is an amputee from a long forgotten multi-planar war, with hideouts scattered across the multiverse, the lower half of his body changes depending on the setting where he is found, often clockwork or steampunk legs, but possibly a wheelchair, or even a hover pad. Jed is a tinkerer able to fix almost anything that is damaged, this makes him a useful NPC, but his repairs often come with a price (and that leads to new stories and adventures). Most of my players come to learn that 'Old Jed' is a mean and surly coot, and a catalyst for change in the towns where he is found.

6. How can players make a world seem real?

Players can make a world seem more real by engaging with it, this involves adding their own story elements through their character, or even something as simple as taking on mannerisms and accent that help the immersion for the players around them. 

7. How can a GM make the stakes important? 

Stakes become important when they actually have an effect on play, and on the narrative. Simply killing a character as a result of a bad roll isn't really making a difference to the wider narrative, unless that character is important. Disposable character aren't a way to make stakes more important, instead the characters need to be built up, the players need to care about them (this is true for both characters and for NPCs). Places can be jeopardised in the same way, so can pieces of equipment or anything else. Similarly, as long as stakes have a permanent effect on the world, they become important. 

8. How can we get more people playing?

I think in recent years we have been seeing a lot more people playing, I think a more pertinent question is "How can we get more people playing RPGs other than D&D?" I think this is a case of showing that there are more games out there, and they all have the potential to tell very different types of stories. Not all RPGs are about murder-hoboing in a fantasy setting.

9. How has a game surprised you?

I didn't expect to like "A Penny for my Thoughts" when I first encountered it. The procedural play just didn'tfeel like it would be something that appealed to me... then I played it. It was through this play that I saw how clever the simplicity of the game was. I think it was this moment that made me see the potential in the genre of game now referred to as "Story Games".

10. How has gaming changed you?

I met my wife of almost 15 years through gaming... enough said.

10 August, 2018

RPGaDay coming.

It's 10 days into August, and I haven't even started RPGaDay. In some regards there's too much happening, in others not enough. Basically, there's not much happening externally, so I'm working on lots of things to get them happening.

I'll probably write up 3 blocks of 10 responses each... starting with one this afternoon.

Then there's Game Chef to consider as well.