Friday, December 23, 2011

Publicising my new game

My new game design is nearing its play-test stage.  Board and counter art is complete, cards are in-progress, rules, still to be done.

I've been pondering how to approach telling the world about this fantastic game.

I liked the approach taken by the designers of Where There Is Discord. They got the game into the database at BoardGameGeek and started throwing up over a number of weeks a few teaser items, and even posted the rules asking the community to proof read them.

Once that was done they started posting well written and detailed Session Reports, each made of multiple posts made on separate days that really related the narrative of the games story. All in all it was a good way of building interest in the game, it certainly sucked me in, I ended up buying the game (and I'm delighted with it!).

I still have to finish up the little details of the game, but once that done I'm going to start following the model above. I'll register the game, put the call out for play-testers and start posting teasers and rules on the 'Geek. Of course I'll post those same teasers here. It'll be an interesting experiment to see if such an approach works with a print and play game!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Designing a new game

I've been working up a new game design for a few months now.  When I say "working up", what I really mean is that I've been thinking about it. What "thinking about it" means is that when I wake up in the middle of the night stressed out by work and money worries, I try to distract myself by thinking about this game.

I've found that during this game thinking I get into a mental flow. Where ideas build one upon another.  I'm also a bit of a writer and the I enter the same "flow" state when I'm sketching out a stories outline. It's a hard thing to describe, but it is most definitely a different state of mind. I suspect that it is almost meditative, perhaps it is meditative, I've never studied that sort of thing.

Do other game designers do a similar thing? Let me know if you do, I'd like to think that I'm not a lonely weirdo!

So what's going on in my mind during these flowing game design periods? I usually start by reviewing what I'm trying to achieve with the game, what the feel should be, and how the interaction with it should feel. From there I start going over mechanisms that could be used.  There is no order to this, I don't have a list to work from, it's just a random selection. Each one is considered, can I use it, how, where, what for, would it be better than one I've already decided on, which is best, all these questions just kind of whirl around in my head.

For example, if I'm thinking of cards within a game, there are so many uses that can be made for them I usually work my way through them all. Consider this little off the cuff list of possible uses...

Resources ... wood, sheep, computer time, interrupts
Timing .. count down, count up, increasing danger levels
Combat ... collecting combos, take that, initiation
Events ... lose all your items, an ogre attacks, you gain a gold, jump forwards to spaces

That's just a sample of what can "flow" over my mind in the middle of night, along with counters, tiles, dice, figures, tables, charts and every other game crafters tool.

I find myself considering, as I've said, what the feel I want the game to give the players, and so my mind often drifts into art, but this is a dangerous area for me, I'm no artist, and despair lies this way! Where, I ask myself, can I get public domain art, and so what Google searches can I use to find what I need....

But enough of the midnight stuff, what about the actual play testing? Well, in this case I take the ideas I've been pondering in the night and with pencil sketch out a board, then if there are counters in my idea, scissors find their way to a cereal packet, and if cards are in order, a few A4 sheets of paper are cut up.  Then these components are marked with a pencil. and finally the whole laid out on a table.

During this phase I'll put counters on the board, cards in my hand, and shuffle everything around seeing how they fit together. Try different set ups. Consider the juxtaposition of the various parts and how the board might be rearranged.

Then the cat walks across the board, sits on it, gets bored and walks off, and if I'm lucky something the cat did makes this paper and card game work!

In the case of last night, the cat didn't help. But I did rough out a play sequence for my current design and discover that the feel is right, but the game was too easy and needs to be ramped up.

That's all for now.  I just thought I'd share some thoughts about how I'm going about my current game design. Tune in later for more. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


A set of rules for a "Story Writing" game have appeared on RPGGeek called "Epistolary", don't worry that's not a swear word.

The easiest way to understand this game is to refer to the book Dracular by Bram Stoker. This famous book is written with each chapter being an extract from a diary, journal, letter or even a report from a newspaper. The whole effect of which is to tell the story from multiple points of view.

This free set of rules lays out a framework to allow you and a friend ( perhaps two friends ) to write a story in this way. Each taking turns to write a part of the story from a certain point of view, and then hand off the story to your fellow player(s) by giving them a choice of "leads".

I think these "leads" are the challenge and the beauty of the system.  Suppose I've just added a section to the story, I finish off by offering between three and five leads to the next player.  Leads take the form of chapter headings, such as :

  • The shadows advance!
  • A friend.
  • Long lost love returns.

So the next player looks at those leads and decides on which one they want to pick up and use as their next section heading.

I find that whole idea fascinating. I can interpret the leads given to me, but as I have no idea what leads I'll be offered they can inspire your creative juices and take the story in a whole new direction.

The system is not just limited to the classic letter writing age, but can be brought up to date or even into the future.  A "chapter" ( a grand title for a section you write ) can be a letter, a blog post, a video transcription, a transgalactic finance report, literally anything you can conceive.

If you have a space half hour and have creative writing "urges" this is well worth a look.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Alien Module 1:Aslan

Alien Module 1:Aslan is an expansion book for the well aged "Traveller" RPG.  Traveller has been through many releases over the years, but this review refers to the original release.

I brought a PDF of Alien Module 1:Aslan via and it's the PDF I'm reviewing.

The PDF is not a specially constructed PDF, rather it is a scan of an original hardcopy. The scan suffers from the source document being well thumbed, the covers are worn and there has been no attempt to tidy up the imagery.

After seeing the cover page I had feared for the contents, but on paging through the PDF I found all of the pages inside to be cleanly scanned and easy to read. Unfortunately various pages of the original document had been stamped with "GDW Library" and these appear in the PDF, on one page even partially obscuring some of the text.

The PDF pages are a 1 to 1 scan of the original book so the PDF is 44 pages long (including the covers).

This book presents the reader with pretty much everything you need to know about the alien "Aslan" race. Aslan are bipedal aliens that resemble an earthly Lion on two legs.

Here's what the book contains:

  • Anatomical diagrams
  • Introduction to the Aslan empire
  • How they measure time.
  • Physiology
  • History
  • Society
  • Government
  • Armed Forces
  • Language (including tools for generating Aslan words)
  • Character generation (including Aslan careers, skills, mustering out)
  • Aslan Weaponry
  • Special rules for Aslan world generation
  • Encounter/Patron tables
  • Aslan's in the Imperium
  • Humans in the Aslan Empire
  • Aslan space vehicles.
  • Scenario
  • Map of Aslan space.

The book is made up of dense text in a two column layout. There is enough information here to create Aslan PCs and to go adventuring in Aslan space without there ever being a Human involved. Each of the sections above are very detailed and extensive, you will not lack for knowledge. It's hard to explain just how much detail is crammed into this book, but there is a lot of it.

I'm very happy with my purchase. It only cost $5, but I would have been willing to pay a little more had the book not been a simple scan. They have missed an opportunity in not creating a new digital layout that could be rendered comfortably by any E-Reader.

Summary : Buy it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Death Bringers

Late last night I finally managed to release an RPG campaign book that I've been working on for about six months.

"Death Bringers" is a campaign book for the "3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars" role playing game. The campaign contains 20 missions on twenty different planets and each mission is broken down into anywhere between 3 and 8 separate combat encounters.

The back cover blurb is...

Death Bringers is a series of twenty pre-programmed combat missions for "3:16 Carnage amongst the Stars"

Each mission centres around destroying all life on an alien world. ALL THREATS TO THE CONTINUANCE OF PARADISE ON EARTH MUST BE ELIMINATED.

Each planet presents a unique challenge with different world wide conditions and a new life form to be eliminated with extreme prejudice.

Each plantary mission contains 3-8 seperate combat encounters building a progressing story as the play moves from encounter to encounter.

The game is available for purchase from


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Playing "3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars"

I started GMing a game of "3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars" game a good while ago on the RPPG-Geek forums. I took it through the first three missions, then another guy "Howitzer" took over the GMing role and breathed new life into the game.

As a "For Instance" of what this guy has done to the game...

Our characters are inside a massive hurtling asteroid that's been targeted at our home planet. We were in a warship, but it crashed into a massive cavern on the asteroid. Inside we find another smashed up ship from earth. We meet the survivors, only to find ourselves surrounded my beasts of half shadow and half our-imagination.

So these "ghosts" of our former comrades, lost loves and parents slide on up to us ...then attack. Troops in power armour taken out by ghosts! Oh the ignominious-ness of it. My character is left "crippled" by this attack. One of the other troopers is not as bad, he's "a mess".

My character did manage to kill 8 of the alien scum in the process, but he's unlikely to survive another attack. Things are looking grim. Surrounded by aliens. Trapped in an asteroid. No ship, no com' and rapidly running out of friends. Great game :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Playing Evil in RPGs

Gosh I don't know what's kicked this off but I've recently heard two different podcasts discussing the pros and cons of playing Evil characters in fantasy settings.

Trying to remember - it hurts! - which podcasts it was, but I think it was Fear the Boot and RPG Circus.

Anyway neither show really hit what I thought was the "answer". Okay, now you're wandering what the question is ...aren't you. The question is "how" to play evil characters?

Why is that even a question? It's the question because most peoples initial view of "evil" characters is the baby eating back stabber who is some kind of constantly uber evil person. That's the problem. If you try to create a group of PC's of that type the group cohesion will not exist they will constantly be attacking each other!

What you need to do is accept that "evil" is more insidious. Look around the world we're in, look for evil and how it manifests.

For example, lets take the Nazi example. Nazi's imposed evil practices on the countries they controlled. They were organised, but they were also cohesive. We see this type of evil all of the time. What we call evil is so often the imposing of "evil" policy. So, be it a dictator in some desert country killing his own people, or some euro' with crazy ideas about people of another religion, they are imposing evil policies.

At the top of these organisations the people are generally quite evil , but even so they don't eat babies, or at least not in front of their followers.

When you want to play an "evil" campaign ( you sick git ) your PCs will have to be cohesive and organised. You could play the minions of the super evil character. Another alternative is to play bandits who are considered evil by everyone they pillage. Another alternative is to be a spy group, perhaps mercenaries who join up with the good guys but with a plan to double cross them.

In summary the group can be evil, but they have to remain a cohesive group. They can be "evil" to each other!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Playing Avalanche

Today a co-worker brought in a 1965 copy of Avalanche into the office. After pondering about this marble game that's actually 3 years older than me, we set to playing.

It's actually a great little filler. It's on a level with something like "Connect 4" in that it's obviously a toy and easy to play. Explaining the rules took no more than 20 seconds and off we went for a two player, quickly followed by a three player game.

Dropping the marbles in the top of the game gives a nice satisfying click-clack sound as they drop down the chutes and hit the swinging gates. When you get a bunch of marbles to drop in one hit it's satisfying, even if they are not the marbles you need.

During our three player game I managed to apply tactics, in that I noticed one other player was the only chap collecting blue marbles. So I actually concentrated on collecting blue by inserting red and yellow marbles ( the colours I was after ). I was able to keep him from winning but and only squeezed a second place out for myself.

After two plays, I'm quite sure this is a game I'll pick up myself if I see it in a shop somewhere. Great for kids, and a good little filler for me!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Contemplating a new RPG

I've been thinking about creating a new Role Playing Game. The idea for a one-shot type game came to me last night. I haven't really thought it all through yet but I'm still rather enamoured by the idea so I'm going to lay out the idea here so that it wont be lost.

The premise is a sci fi game where the players are super rich characters who like to hunt. The game starts with the PC's being dropped off on a remote planet by a shady guy who's promised them the hunt of a life time.

The game is simply the hunt. Other than the PC's the only other characters are the alien creatures being hunted.

I'm thinking that the Alien should be rolled up at the beginning of the game. This rolling up would consist of simple picking a collection traits/aspects that the GM would have to combine into some suitable target of the hunt.

The PCs would not be aware of the aliens aspects ( the shady character didn't give too much information ).

I'm thinking that the PC creation would be a little more complex. A small collection of skills would be available to pick from. Then they get a couple of positive traits/aspects and one negative. That would allow the PC's to be generated quite quickly which is required in a one-shot scenario.

Another variable that could be decided by a die roll, would be the environment, anything from swamp through to deserted city.

So that's the idea, a simple one shot game. I'll probably throw together the first draft of the rules in the near future, if I can find the time between work and recording audio books.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


What is it?

OSRIC is a retro clone of AD&D 1st edition. That means that the rules of AD&D are in this book, but none of the original art or artistic presentation. That's not to say there is no art, the book has a varied collection of art sprinkled liberally through its pages.

You can download this rules set for free as a very nicely laid out PDF, or order a hardcopy from the POD publisher LuLu. It's this Lulu copy that I'm reviewing.


The hardcopy I ordered is a softback, black and white inside with a colour cover. Its 380 odd pages with two column layout interspersed with single and double column art.

The cover is thin card and shiny, the paper inside seems to be about the same weight as standard printer-paper. The binding is solidly glued with no loose pages. I can not fault the print quality at all, the type and art are clear and crisp throughout. ( I had feared a lower quality because it was print-on-demand but it is actually better than some standard print products I've bought in the past.

The art is generally of the "hobbiest" quality with a few standout pieces, they seem to have come from a collection of different artists so there isn't a common look and feel throughout.


The major sections in the book are :

Character Creation
How to Play
Dungeons, Towns and Wildernesses

Each of these sections is stuffed with content and in the whole very well written. If you have a history of AD&D then you'll find all of the usual classes, races, spells you've seen before, although they may have slightly different names due to copyright restrictions.

I love what they've done with the "How to Play" section. This section is very very clear and suitably concise. They've managed to produce a text that describes how to play the game in a step by step manner that is clear and straight forward. I've introduced a couple of new players and they've found this an easy introduction to role playing.


This is a great book. Although it has a lot of pages, the actual rules are a limited to about only 60 pages with the rest being reference materials. This means that it's easy enough to get playing without a massive slog through an expanded rule system.

There is no hint of a background or environment in this book, so you'll have to add that yourself.

Value for Money?

Considering the cost, I've more than got my monies worth. I was pleasantly suprised by the price. I've been led to think that buying POD books is an expensive way to get your role playing games, but here I got very good VFM!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Mouse Guard RPG - Character Generation

Creating a Mouse Guard Character

The first step is to decide on your character concept you could be anything from a young Tender Paw up to the lofty heights of Guard Captain. Well I'm looking for something in the middle, without the responsibility of the higher ranks but also with some skills so I opt for Guardmouse, which one of the middle ranks, the foot soldier if you will.

Being a Guardmouse means my character will be aged anything from 18-25, I opt for middle of the road again, age 22, this also means the character will start with a "Will" stat of 3 and Health score of 5.

The next step is to determine the characters "Mouse Nature", basicly how strong is the Mouse as opposed to the anthropomorphic side. Starting with a value of 3, you then answer some questions each of which effects the Characters generation. For instance if your character goes without now so that it can save for

the winter then Nature increases by 1, and so on. I end up with a Mouse Nature of 4.

Next you decide where your character was born. This effects the skills your character gains before joining the Guard. In this case I opt for the town of Copperwood. This means my mouse gains the Skills of Smith and Haggler and the "Independent" trait.

Life Experience is the title of the next section. Here you answer a number of questions with each answer generating a number of skills. During this process may pick the same skill across multiple steps thereby increasing that skills rank.

The first step is to pick some skills, Guardmice such as mine get to pick just one. I opt for Hunter because it sounds cool!

What was you parents trade? This lets you choose another skill, here I opt for Cartographer. My thinking is that if I'm skilled at Hunting that means I'm out and about, so the information I bring back about the terrain would help with the Cartography of my parents and my own skills in that line.

Next comes apprenticeship. All Guardmice serve as an apprentice for two years, you get a single skill from this. I opt to up my Cartography.

Then comes mentoring by a member of the Guard and you get to pick from a sub list of skills. By luck I see Hunter is in the list and up that.

Your experiences in the Guard gain you a batch of Guard related skills, a Guardmouse gets 6. You can pick skills from a select list of Guard skills. In this case Hunter is there so I'll spend 3 on that making it a quite strong skill and spread the rest around. 1 on Fighter, 1 on Pathfinder and 1 on Scout.

Each Guardmouse has a speciality and this earns a skill, no two party members get to pick the same, and there are only 8 to choose from. As I'm rolling this character up as a stand alone it can choose any of the skills. In this case I'll up Fighter so that it's not too weak should an enemy turn up.

Now comes the tallying. What that means is that you add 1 to all of your skills to find their final value.

"Wises" come next. You get Wises, based on your rank, which in my case is Guardmouse, which means 2. Wises allow you "Know" facts, even introduce new facts the GM didn't know and also to augment skill checks. I'm figuring that as this mouse is a very good hunter, he should be Wise about related subjects, so I

opt for "Squirrel Wise" and "owl Wise". My rationale behind these is that Squirrels hide nuts, so knowing about that helps me character hunt out their food, and being outside means that he knows about the terrible Mouse Predator the OWL!

Guard Resources, is your acharacters ability to pay for or at least get hold of Guard resources, such as a replacement shield. As a Guardmouse I start with a rank of 2, but as I answer questions about my mouse this goes up and down, there are six questions. An example is, "Do you buy gifts for friends?". After working through the six questions my final score is 3

Circles is next. Circles refer to circles of friends, this allows you get help , it tells us how well connected socially the mouse is. Guardmice start with a score of 2 and answer some questions to modify that score. For example, Does your character have powerful enemies? My final score is ... 2.

Now come Traits, these represent personality quirks. I've already picked up Independent becuase of where the mouse was born, but the answers I given to questions in previous phase of character generation have ruled out a bunch of possible traits. There are pick lists for each of the trait phases.

Quality born with : I pick Longtail
Inherited from Parents : I pick Early riser
Life on the Road : I pick Sharp Eyed

We're nearly done now. I pick "Kole" as a name, Brown for a Fur color, my parents are Laird and Daye, I apprenticed with Abram, was mentored by Vidar and my best friend is a femail Guardmouse called Rona. My cloak is Red.

Now for the juicey bit. You have to make up an enemy. I decide on a hermit who lives in the wilds nears Copperwood. While hunting one day I picked food from one of his traps. Unfortunately although he's a Hermit he's the son of the aged Mayor of Copperwood.

Next you select a Belief for your character, this is an ethical or morale stance. I make up... "Self reliance is the foundation of the communities strength."

You would at this point, select a "Goal" for the character, but as that is based on the mission, I'll skip it for now.

Instinct is the final attribute. What is the characters first reaction likely to be, what are they trained to do. I make up the following. "Gather information, make an informed choice."

So there you go. Generating a character for Mouseguard . I have to say it is one of the most rewarding character gen' experiences I've had, at each step you feel like you really are building a personality rather than just min-maxing. It does have 21 steps, but each is quick and easy and thoughtful.

Age 22
Will 3
Health 5
Nature 4
Guard Resources 3

Smith x2
Haggler x2
Hunter x6
Cartographer x3
Fighter x3
Pathfinder x2
Scout x2

Long tail
Early Riser
Sharp Eyed


Friday, June 03, 2011


I'm running a play by forum game using the FATE 2.0 rules. As I'm a newbie to these rules I keep forgetting some of the rules. So with that in mind I'm making this post to summarise a few rules that I need to remember ( or at least be able to look up quickly online).

Aspects can be used to do the following if the action is applicable to the Aspect :
1. Reroll all dice after the event
2. Choose any die and change it to a "+"
3. Reroll a single die.
4. "Spend" an aspect to aid the character in narrating a scene. For instance, the Aspect "Rich" could be called on to allow the character to purchase a car.

FATE points can be spect to :
1. Add +1 to a roll(before or after the actual roll.
2. Take a minor narrative control of the scene. For instance you could spend a FATE point to have a witness turn up, or a bicycle just happen to be nearby when you need to escape.
3. Counter someone elses spending of a FATE point.
4. To take the camera for a monologue
5. Spend 2 FATE to give someone else a +1 to their roll.
6. Switch places with someone in combat
7. Take a hit in combat instead of someone else.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

May 14th 1982. Sit Rep.

This isn't a full session report as much as a "Wow I can't believe it's going so well this far into the game" type of thing...with pics. Obviously, me being so hyped on how well its going is definitely going to make it all go wrong, well maybe, we'll see. The game in question is Where there is Discord

Let's look at the turn track...

At first glance all is well. After a spectacular bombing raid on Stanley airfield, including Vulcans and 5 Harriers I've managed to cave in the Argentine Supply situation. On second glance you'll not they still have 5 Exocets. In fact they've only launched one Exocet raid but that was bounced (phew). And I took a hit in international opinion to stop them getting further missiles.

Now the Opinion track...

It's blurry but you can still see that International opinion is really low. I took a piece of advice from a session report here on the geek, to sacrifice International opinion if it keeps National up. So far it's not hurt me much even though it looks bad. I'm not too worried about losing Acension as the early warnings from them have been few and far between so far! You'll also note that I only have one San-Carlos event so far. Compared to the way these cards normally fall for me, I'm way ahead of the curve!

The card decks...

Another blurry one, sorry. Not a lot to see here, but you'll note I've been held up on my journey south, as the Sit Rep number is behind the date. A minor conveniance actually :) Card number 2 was a UN call for a cease fire which I rejected, I told you I'm on a high, and when everything is going well, why sue for peace!

The SAS...

I've stuck to my usual practice of leaving the SAS watching for Super Etenards throughout most of the game as I am so often creamed by the Exocets. That hasn't happened this game so far, in fact the Skyhawks have been my bane, they just sunk HMS Coventry. :angry:

Under the water...

My own inclination in previous games has been to drop one sub in each zone and leave them there. Yet, once again I've adopted another stratergy from a previous poster here at BGG and I've been focusing on the Coastal zone, and only moving out if there is something to target. This hasn't been as successful. None of the naval conflicts have resulted in a kill as yet. I was hoping that this change would have helped eliminate the naval threat early in the game, but no such luck.

In the air...

Not a lot to see here, but I've basicly been pumping 5 Sea Harriers a turn out on missions each turn to whittle down the Argentine supply situation. Once again, this is something I have always only sent one or two harriers out for it in previous games. It's working very well, many turns I haven't put up a CAP at all. CAP's look even less likely for the next few turns as I'm now two Harriers down. One to bad weather and another in the raid on Stanleys airport.

On the transports...

This is my secret load-out pattern, you MAY NOT copy it in your games. It's actually a new pattern for me, so wish me luck with it :)

Onto disposition of the fleet...

You'll immediately notice the inset top left. Yes it's true the Sheffield has been lost...but not in the game if you take my meaning. Do not cry, I've done enough for everyone!

You may wonder why I only have HMS Alacrity in the western zone (a type T21 no less!), well that's because those blasted Skyhawks have just sunk the Coventry which was in that zone. They'll have to be some rearrangements next turn. Perhaps the loss of the Coventry signifys the ending of my good run, even if that is the case, at least I'll have this report to look back on and smile.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monty Python Fluxx

Until this Christmas I'd never played or even see any of the Fluxx games played. I have to admit that what I'd heard about it did sound fun but wasn't going to risk my hard-earned on a game I wasn't sure about.

Still Christmas rolled round and presents arrived and you can guess what was included!

I played one game with my wife and son, and it was pretty good, apart from me having no memory for songs and losing out because of it ( and not having seen any Monty Python for about 15 years ). We had some fun.

Then this weekend I had a bigger game with daughter #3 and her intended added into the collection for 5 people sitting round the table. We'd just had a meal and were sitting back and relaxing with some drinks when the game hit the table.

I think I found its sweet spot with five people. That's enough people so that someone has something funny to say, and that at least one other person is going to get the Monty Python joke. It's also not so big that that you sit around waiting too long for your turn.

We ended up playing two hands ( or is it rounds ) and having a jolly good time. I recommend the game to monty python fans but would offer a stern "stay away" to anyone who doesn't.