Showing posts from September, 2018

Inktober 2018

I'm going to try to challenge myself again this year with Inktober. Some years I do it and stick to a theme for my images, some years I pick two of the variant Inktober lists and try to combine the prompts into a single image. This year I'm going to go with that second option. Here's the official list... ...and here's the unofficial list I'll be combining with it. Hopefully I'll get an image done every day for the month, but I don't know what this month has in store yet. 

Being ahead of the curve

I hate it when I do something, have it out in the world for years and don't really get anyone comment on it... then see someone else doing the same thing, suddenly even thoigh my version has been out for a while, yet they are considered the visionary and innovator. I expect either a generic miniatures game or a game about spirits adventuring in the echoed dreamworlds of reality ranto be considered massively innovative in 2021.

Getting Everyone Else to Flesh out the Details

There seems to be a common thread among a lot of the popular games at the moment, whether they are indie story games, OSR, Powered by the Apocalypse, Cortex, Fate, D&D... in each case the originators of the product have developed a great framework, and they've detailed a few bits and pieces, but in a lot of cases they only really become interesting when other people get hold of them and start adding in their own flavour to the mix. This isn't true in all cases... As an example, Into The Odd from Chris McDowell certainly has some quirky flavour and interest from the outset. But generally I find a lot of the well played and over-hyped games are either blank canvases, or canvases where the starting elements can be easily stripped out so that other designers and gamers can add their own nuance to the experience. It's one of the things that I've been trying to do in my designs, but the trick seems to be developing enough interest to lure people's attention, but not

Developing Character

One of the things that bugs me about many traditional RPGs is the front loading of story, that may never be used. Copious detail is added to characters, which may never have the opportunity to be revealed in play, either because the syory doesn't go in a direction conducive to revealing those facts, or simply because the character gets killed before the truth can become known. This goes for worldbuilding and the work of the GM as well, and there are plenty of anecdotes about GMs spending days detailing a part of the world, rich with mystery and adventure, only for the players to take the right hand fork in the road rather than the left. There are two instant ways to overcome this... You can detail every part of the world. This is the method used by many high profile games in the 80s and 90s ( D&D, Rifts, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, MERP, GURPS, World of Darkness ), inundating players and GMs with so much information that everything could be found written up somewhere... of cour


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?

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

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... mayb

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

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 progr

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 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.'s some dungeon geo

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

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.


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. ((Link Here))   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, some


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.   

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 ap