Showing posts from December, 2012

Tooth and Claw Expansions??

I'm starting to really wonder whether the idea of expansion booklets for Tooth and Claw are good ideas? There were certainly some things that I would have liked to add into the rules, but the pocketmod format meant that I could only release the essentials for play. In some ways that's a good thing...too many rules can muddy the purity of the original concept, theuy can detract from the core vision of play. I'm pretty happy with the balance of rules that went into the game as it currently stand, but I know some groups that prefer a bit more crunch in their systems, and there could definitely be some better advice on how to create a story for these tiny heroes. With this in mind, I'm thinking of a GMs guide for Tooth and Claw...maybe with a couple of pages about how  ferret pack dynamics work and how these can be replicated in play, perhaps a couple of pages about ferret stories and how to use fallout to drive a story forward. That's before I'd even conside

Time for a Promotional Test

I've had an online shopfront at RPGNow for over two years. It's ticked over gradually, I think that every month it's earned a bit of money, some months even earning enough to pay for groceries or cover a week of rent. These good months usually occur when I upload something new onto the site (either the month when it gets uploaded, or the following month if I upload it late). I haven't bothered to use their site promotional tools and have just let my products sit on the site in the hope that someone might look at them. It's been a pretty lax attitude toward sales, but I've had other things on my mind. Sometimes work, sometimes study, sometimes family commitments. I'm not upset, I've actually pretty happy with how well things have sold given the lack of promotion behind them. But I've decided to see how well the site promotion tools work. Every month a publisher gains a set number of "Promotion Points", plus a few more based on a perc

Maps (Part 2)

Here's the rest of the maps I drew last night, for those who are interested. Presented in order... This was the first one. Just a random bunch of circles, jaggedly joined in pencil with sweeps of mountain ranges that might account for the coastlines provided. Rivers inserted logically from mountain ranges to deltas where they meet the sea. A few forests and fertile plains scattered about. I had a rough idea for an island where two meteors, one large and one small had crashed into the world...or perhaps an ancient coral atoll where a huge explosion off to one side formed a new conjoined ring of land...or two volcanic eruptions. Starting with the rings of land and joining them with other landscape features that vaguely made sense, I ended up with this. I can see some good story potential in this one. Not sure where I was going with this one. Just started with some vague squiggles that had a general point symmetry around the middle then built it from there.


Last night I didn't have access to a computer. My wife's external 2TB hard drive crashed (possibly because I plugged the wrong power adaptor into it and burnt out the motherboad citcuitry, possibly because my brother dropped it). Her computer also has an issue with burning DVDs (we don't know the root of the issue...). So she started using her computer to convert files into a format our TV can handle, switched the files over to my computer where they were then burnt to DVD. It was a nice little production line that she had going. But it meant I couldn't continue work on laying out Ghost City Raiders. So I did something that I haven't done in years. I pulled out a sketchbook and started hand-drawing some maps along a common theme. Last night's theme; Islands and archipelagos. I've drawn in coasts, hills, mountain ranges, rivers, fertile plains and forests, but have deliberately left out any roads, towns or other evidence of civilisation. It was a lot

Some Good Reviews

I'm happy to have received some good reviews so far regarding Tooth and Claw... The first from Megan R. (A featured reviewer) My grandfather's ferret was a beast of little merit.... quite unlike this game which has captured the delight of these beasties beautifully within a few short pages. If you already know and love ferrets, you'll delight in this - and if you have never met one, come on and find out what they are like! So - what do ferrets get up to when everyone else is asleep?  With simple yet effective game mechanics, this is a game that could be played with young children or as a quick evening's fun.  The ferret pictures are rather sweet, too. Enjoy! Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!] The second from Joe S. (who is actually one of the team from Storyweaver Games, who current hold the top spot over on RPGNow). It’s not every day a SMALL rule systems comes along that absolutely NAILS a genre. I think Tooth and Claw is such a game. While the rules are ju

Processing and Recycling images

Since my first Pocketmod game, Ghost City Raiders, is set in the same world as Walkabout. I'm going to use a bunch of the Walkabout illustrations that I've developed, apply some postwork to them, and use them as character illustrations in the first batch of Ghost City Raiders. Yes, I know they're all Caucasian...hell, the majority of the illustrations in the first batch are male as well (6 to 4 among the first 10 characters). It's not deliberate, it's just that most of the gamers who offered their photos for me to use were caucasian males. I've got a backlog of illustrations to complete, including a variety of people, and with these images I'll be trying to add in a bit more ethnic diversity among the illustrations especially in some of the immediate character expansion sets.

What gaming innovations have been seen this year?

It's getting to the end of the year; time to reflect on some things. Like most years, there have been hundreds of games released. Most have simply trodden the same old formulas, but some have introduced dynamic concepts to the realms of gaming. I don't claim to know all games, but I like to keep informed of general trends in gaming, and I try to keep a general watch over the Kickstarters (and other crowdfunded projects) coming through, and the "Stuff to Watch" threads on Story-Games often provide some useful fodder. I don't see much in the OSR world, and there is probably some great stuff happening in that part of the gaming, world but almost everything I'm seeing there is retroclones, heartbreakers, anachronisms and nostalgia...not much for really grab my interest. The mainstream stuff that's reached my radar has consisted of Pathfinder doing it's thing (which I've just generally lost interest in because it's more of the same-old-same-ol

Peaked at #2

It may not be a huge achievement, but in the little world of publishing indie roleplaying games, it's something...and it's something I'm proud of. Tooth and Claw has reached number 2 on the RPGNow Hottest Items listing. Maybe I should start putting a few more things back up on RPGNow.

Tooth and Claw - Now Available

When you read this, the Ferret Pocketmod RPG " Tooth and Claw " has now been available on RPGNow. Have a look at it, buy it, it's only a dollar and half of all the profits will be directed to the NSW Ferret Welfare Society.

Best Last Defence: A Game about Ferrets

If you're frustrated by someone else's game, sometimes you just have to write your own. Best Last Defence is a game about what ferrets do when the big ones (the humans) aren't looking, either because they are asleep, at work, or otherwise away from their home. It's been written to fit in Pocketmod format. I'll be making it available in the next day or two over on RPGNow at $1 per copy.  Since Leah and I are ferret rescuers for the NSW Ferret Welfare Society, half of all the proceeds will be donated to this non-profit charity group who look after ferrets who have been in homes where they have either been neglected, or homes where ferrets simply weren't suitable as pets. It's a fun little game where you could play urban fantasy as ferrets trying to stop "sock goblins" from stealing the foot coverings of the giants who you share your house with, you could play a home alone type scenario where the ferrets are the heroes standing between burgla

RPGs and Ferrets

In my house live six ferrets: two males and four females (one of whom is blind). We are also a house of gamers. So when I heard about  Kingdom: A Pen & Paper Space Exploration RPG , my interest was instantly drawn. I saw the words... + Erik Tenkar  on space ferrets: I think it is because one is and individual, two is couple,  three is invocative of the entire race, more then that is just clutter.  ...on a Google+ thread and had to take a closer look. I looked at the Kickstarter (as linked above). I don't have high hopes for it. Maybe it's not a game about ferrets after all. Maybe it's just a single persons attempt to create another generic sci-fi game that looks like a hundred other generic sci-fi games that I've flicked through at my local game store and put down because nothing really grabbed my attention in a positive way, and the few things that did stand out were the kinds of things that really irk me about an amateurish production. The Kin

A Return to the Gambit

A few years ago I wrote a pone page game called "The Gambit of Erzulie Ga Rouge". I think I generated it for one of the game chef contests, or something similar. The premise was pretty simple. A group of characters have been buried over the course of the last year in an enchanted graveyard. Annually, on All-Hallows Eve (or some other specific night), a doorway is opened between the realms of the mortal plane, the Darklands and Paradise. On this night the spirits of the deceased have a single chance to resolve the issues of their mortal lives. A single spirit rises to paradise, while the others will spend the rest of existence lingering in the Darklands (a purgatory) until judgement day. To make things interesting, the game was played out on chess boards, with players moving across the board using the movement of chess pieces. It also had a bit of a tower defense side to it, as Darkland spirits would invade the graveyard. If a player successfully took a graveyard spirit (i

Rule Bloat (or lack thereof)

One of the biggest problems I have when writing a game is "rule bloat". I start with something simple and elegant, something that works really well in the specific situation for which it was designed, then I tweak it to make it suitable for a wider variety of situations. The rule becomes more functional in my mind, but trying to describe the new nuances in the rule takes three times as long. It's one of the things that has been stumping me on the revision of Walkabout, and it's anathema to the concept of writing a pocketmod game. I've been looking at a few other tight game lately to see how other designers handle this problem. Edge of Space from Chubby Monster games, streamlines actions into a simple or opposed dice rolls, but it really sacrifices the explanation of how these dice results affect play. If you know the paradigm of traditional roleplaying games, then it's not hard to fill in the gaps...but how much work would it be for a non-gamer to deta

A game with a hero played by no-one

I had an idea a few months back. I was planning to make a FUBAR supplement around it, but you could use easily apply the concept to just about any other traditional style roleplaying game. You get a hero, this is a typical manga or anime hero. A young kid who gets into trouble, but who will become important to the fate of the world. The aim of the player characters is to teach the kid, to get them through the troubles of their youth in order to become the global hero they are destined to be... Each of the player characters fulfils one of the archetypes of the setting. In an anime-style setting, one player would be the friendly brute (who beats up bullies picking on the hero), another player takes on the role of the romantic mentor, another is the brainy one, then you get the comic relief (who might be the second best at a range of things), etc... there are dozens of these characters in anime, but they typically boil down to a specific combination from a small range of blatant s

Looking forward, looking back

It's getting to that time of the year when I usually starting looking back on the months, to see what I've accomplished (if anything), and start to consider what projects I might aim towards in the next year. In two days time the whole world might not be here, if the conspiracy theorists who've taken the Mayan calendar out of context are right. (But the dawning of the Age of Aquarius didn't do a whole like to awaken a new consciousness in the we'll just have to see about that one.) 2012 has been a fun year, I started out strong with two projects: Hell on Eight Wheels - A roller derby board game in the vein of Bloodbowl. It's gone as far I can push it without producing a prototype for some serious playtesting. I've got quite a lot of interest in it, especially among the local roller derby community. Walkabout - This has evolved organically and has developed into something that I want to get right. I had hoped that November's NaGa DeM

Lego FU

It's always good to see when a community works together. I'm always happy to see when one local designer produces something, and when another local designer produces a fun and innovative hack for it. Designers from the Australian roleplaying community may be spread over vast distances, but that doesn't stop co-operation. Nathan Russell on the east coast of Australia has been working on a fun system simply entitled FU, the F reeform U niversal RPG . Andrew Smith (formerly from the east coast, but now on the west coast) has just released a Lego modification of the rules, Lego FU . I've tried to download a copy of it, but my internet connection is erratic at the best of times. I haven't had the chance to thoroughly read through these works of Aussie game design, so beyond my excitement that game designers are working together, the best I can say is to have a look for yourself. See if there's any potential for your game group to exploit. (EDIT: Oh, did I mention

Humans in a goblin game?

In the movie Labyrinth, there are all manner of supernatural beings, many of which are goblins of various descriptions (these goblins as illustrated and designed by Brian Froud are the core idea behind my goblin game), and while there may be some creatures that could be defined as goblin mutants which clearly push the boundaries of goblin-ness, there are some which would have to be considered different species if not different biological families or even different orders of life. ...but hell, it's a magical world, or even a dreamscape, so trying to define everything in scientific terms is probably pretty futile What really grabs my interest about the Labyrinth setting is the fact that the "Goblin King" looks so human. In the descriptive historical work for the goblin tarot, I hypothesized that the concept of a "goblin" king might be related to the old stories of changelings. These are the stories where fey creatures abduct human children and leave their ow

The Issues of Goblin Language

I’ve read through all the old articles explaining different people’s perspectives about languages in D&D. The bits about Gary Gygax reading some sword-and-sorcery series where one of the characters was able to speak a “thieves-cant”, which could be interjected into other languages, or which could be ”spoken” in such a way that only thieves could understand it. I’ve read numerous debates about “alignment languages”, and how they might supposedly work in real life (none of them sounded very convincing to me). Perhaps the best response I’ve heard to this argument is that different people might speak different dialects with inflections representing their religious beliefs. I understand the notion of cultural languages, and racial languages, but then we also get the fantasy staple of a “common tongue”. I’ve been thinking about whether to put languages into the Goblin Labyrinth game. I can see reasons why the concept of languages should be put in, and reasons why it shouldn’t. I’m

Goblin Pocketmod Development

I’ve been tinkering with the goblin game again. In this case, it means putting together lists of skills that are meaningful for career paths. I’m working off the warhammer fantasy model for this, because it provides a gritty play experience where character have to really struggle, and often engage in outlandish progressions before they can rise above the chaos to become true heroes among their people. A goblin youngling might start out as a “thug”, work their way up through the criminal ranks as an “enforcer” then a “crime boss” before finally reaching “Mastermind”. In the highly accelerated world of the goblins, each of these steps would only take a couple of weeks to progress through, because a goblin dies after a couple of months.  I’m setting up three tiers of occupations. Basic occupations that almost any goblin can start out on (negligible attribute requirements on some of these). Advanced occupations that have a range of basic skills, moderate attribute requir

A Game Icons Site

After my recent post about glyphs, I was digging through this month's " Stuff to Watch " thread over on Story Games. This is a regular news thread showing a wide variety of subjects that might be of interest to gamers. It's one of the reasons I still visit Story-Games. It seems that I'm not the only one working on game glyphs, symbols and icons. A hate tapping into a zeitgeist.


One of the things about writing a small format game is the need to convey information quickly an efficiently. A method to do this is by developing sigils or glyphs that can be used to replace words. Card games like "Magic: the Gathering" have been doing this for years. Simple glyphs to replace common words like "tap" or colours of mana. It's like a form of data compression, a designer only needs to define the glyph once and then every time the word or concept is used throughout the data set, the simple glyph can be used to represent a word, a sentence or even a paragraph. I had this idea a while ago, and drew up a series of glyphs that were incorporated into a font. With the glyphs in a font, it becomes easy to incorporate them into a document, altering glyph sizes to match changes in text size, allowing them to be incorporated into titles and anywhere else they might be needed. It's even possible to make outlines, add drop shadows to them, or anyth