Category Archives: General

Brain Salad Sandwich – Systems

There was a thread about “The rise and rise of game engines” over at the Gaming Tavern (a forum I frequent), and this was my contribution.

I kinda get obsessed with the game engines I run:

D100/BRP is my goto fantasy engine. Not just the actual % skill system, but also the Character ->Culture ->Proffession ->Magic System framework that originates from RuneQuest. RQ 3, in particular, introduced a whole framework of presenting setting information that I keep on coming back to.

OD&D. When I got back into D&D as a result of following the OSR blog sphere five years or so, of all the retro-clones Swords and Wizardry was a hit with me the most and I spun Crypts and Things off that (which is my Swords and Sorcery variant with a dash of Fighting Fantasy/White Dwarf 80s inspiration). It’s my gateway to stuff like the Black Hack and 13th Age. Should really graduate to running 5th Ed, but OD&D I can carry in my head. Also, Mitch’s Beyond D20 (which is what we are calling the system in Beyond Dread Portals) also builds a lot of modern narrative sensibilities on top of the S&W chassis, in an easy effortless way that doesn’t tax my poor aged sponge of a brain too much.

FATE won the narrative system wars of the 2000s that raged in my head sometime in the 2010s, swiftly dispatching HeroQuest to the dustbin of failed systems (although I’m feeling the urge to take it out and give it a spin again).

PbTA is still the hot new kewlness, that I’d love to write something for but I’m still at the learning through play stage with. But every game I’ve either played or run has been a hit with me.

Summer Sale Spotlight Day 2 Hunters in Alexandria

Following on yesterdays’ spotlight, which featured Project Darklight, here’s one about one of our quietly best selling game, which was released with out much fanfare early Autumn 2015.

What is It?

A self-contained game of monster hunting in the cosmopolitan city of Ancient Alexandria during the Roman occupation.

Although it is based on the Fate game system, it uses a variant called Fortune, which sits somewhere between Fate Accelerated and Fate Core regarding complexity.

How it Came About

Paul Mitchener (Age of Arthur, Starfall, Crucible of Dragons), the author, released it as a standalone game via his Historical RPGs Patreon. I liked the straightforward version of Fate that he used with it, called Fortune. While it retains the meat of the Fate system, there are differences. It uses Professions instead of Skills, (Fate Core), or Approaches (Fate Accelerated).  Extras are used as standard to define anything that isn’t directly part of the character such as magical items, martial techniques or advantages due to some form of social status (the Legionary extra is a good example of this).  I also liked the premise of the characters being monster hunters in classical Alexandria, since I’m a big fan of Roman Epics.

While I liked the Patreon version and I thought with some more work on it, It would be a nice small pick up and play the game. Paul agreed with me, so we started work on it.

The Development Processes

I did a small bit of editorial on the game, asking Paul to clarify a few bits and expand in a few areas (the section on Alexandrian Religion is new). The main aim here was to keep it short and to the point, including lots of gameable stuff without either being vague or going over the top.

After Paul had done his bit of creating this tightly focused game, I rounded off proceedings with an adventure called Saviour Gods. This adventure focuses on a plot to pull down the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which unknown to anyone is a magical ward dedicated to the “Saviour Gods” of the title

I commissioned the ever-talented Peter Town (Mythic Russia, Hearts in Glorantha, The Book of Glorious Joy) who actually relishes the ancient period, to do the art.

Peter Town’s Egyptian Sorcerer

Another Peter, Frain (Duty and Honour, River of Heaven, Monkey), did the cover, a scene straight out the Saviour Gods, with a Roman Centurion battling a mummy before the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Peter Town’s cover

I also re-used Stephanie McAlea’s (Stygian Fox owner who produce beautiful Call of Cthulhu scenarios) fantastic map of Alexandria, which she had originally done for the Patreon version on the back cover.

The Finished Product

An A5 11 Page self-contained game. It’s designed to be read quickly and then run with the adventure or scenario seeds straight out of the book. The game even comes with four ready made characters.

Currently available in the D101 Summer Sale with 25% off until Sunday 16th in print with free pdf, selling at £9 (usual price £12).

Also from DriveThru in Pdf/Print 

And LULU in print.

 

Tis was the post before Christmas

I know that the readership of this blog is rather small, but this is primarily to get me up to date with what we’ve got on. You see I’ve got two weeks off the day job and there’s been a blur of activity in the off hours with various projects being worked on.

Crypts & Things – This is the biggy that has to be delivered next.  Good news is that all the art is in and we are doing a big edit of the text. When I say we…yes this means someone else as well as me 🙂 Next up is sorting out the adventures, working out what work needs to be done and some sort of realistic release schedule for the first half of 2016 after the main book comes out.  C&T is going to be one of our BIG things for 2016 so I’m preparing myself for that.

Project Darklight – After the wheels came off rather spectacularly at public playtest stage (Feb 2015), I revisited the project back in October and laid out an “Ashcan” version, a rough pre-production version in time for Furnace. I figured that I could at least present it in its Wordplay version at least once, before porting it over to Fate. Thing was that once it was laid out I could see it more clearly, warts n all, I realised that actually I’m rather fond of it and with a bit more tweaking it will be ready for a quick playtest and then release! So if you’ve been watching this one look out for the second call for playtesting in very early 2016 🙂

Monkey 2nd Incarnation. Slow and steady is the name of the game at the moment. I’ve a solid base with the 1st edition, and I’m making lots of tweaks and changes that need to be properly playtested with my home group. Also I plan to do a more comprehensive guide to the non-player characters that feature in the book, which will take time.  Fingers crossed though for a summer release 🙂

River of Heaven. Working on the River of Heaven Companion at the moment with John Ossoway and Paul Mitchener. Then a small break and reassess on what comes next. RoH was huge for us in 2015 and we’ve definitely got options for where we go with it next.

OpenQuest. Bit of a strange one. Recent developments with a revitalised and reinvigorated  Chaosium, who are focusing on RQ, means I’m tempted to say “my job here is done” as far as carrying the torch for Old School D100 revival and put the whole line into what I call POD Stasis, i.e. the books will still be available on Drivethrurpg.com/Lulu.com but nothing new will be worked on. But I had a bit of slack time during my day job’s lunch hour recently, and was able to quickly work on what I’m calling “OpenQuest 3 Hacked”. I took the whole OQ2 SRD document and blitzed through it making the changes that I wanted to the system, and bringing it much more closer to the vision I originally had for the game when it was called SimpleQuest. Briefly – Random Character generation as standard, cleaned up and simplified Combat, Variable Armour points (eg. Chainmail is 1d8 Armour Points), One Magic system with no variable magic ( Healing for example now heals 1d6 Hit Points per casting) and no magic points, using the Goons system for stating out quick npcs and monsters.  Whether I go anywhere with this is still at the planning stage and other things have priority.  Saying this OQ has been good for me over the last eight years and it would be sad to see it gradually disappear.  Fans of OQ2 don’t despair since I plan to keep it available via POD even if I go forward with OQ3.

Empires of Y – Dr Mitch’s epic tribute to 2nd Ed AD&D Multi-planar gaming, is currently in editorial with a batch of rewrites to do.

That’s it for now, I’ll be making a more formal State of D101 in 2016 post here come the New Year 🙂

Going back to my roots

Last night was a trip down memory lane.

I uploaded Hearts in Glorantha Volume 1 Collected,to Lulu.com, so I can get a softcover copy for proof. These days I favour DriveThruRpg.com as a POD printer, for various reasons, but you can’t beat Lulu for ease of use. A quick set of wizards to fill in the basic detail and a one shot cover creator. Upload pdfs and order a proof (which arrives in 3-5 days for a softcover). Bingo! Unlike DriveThruRpg (who use Lightning Source as a printer) which is getting increasingly finicky about the set up of your PDF,  Lulu is lovingly forgiving. If you bork any aspect of your layout it still pumps out a proof and sends it to you, unlike DriveThruRpg who make you wait 3-7 days (and sometimes more if they are all at GenCon/Thanksgiving etc) before telling you your file has been rejected (which to be fair is a good idea, but a tad annoying when certain things like colour bleed aren’t checked as part of the process).  In short I’d recommend it to any beginning publisher who just wants to crank out a small print run for a con and make the book available to the world via Lulu’s adequate storefront. Which is where I was 7 or so years ago when I did D101’s first proper release “Hearts in Glorantha issue 1”. Hence the massive nostalgia wave that hit me last night.

Perhaps I should just hit up a stock art site, get lots of free Black and White images and write a crazy A4 sized book of RPGings and release it via Lulu.com just for old times sake 😉

Blowing away the cobwebs

Another post so soon?  Well yes. My joy for D101 has fully returned. Lots of stuff in going on the background, some of which I can talk about and some of it I can’t 😛

First off after the marathon off data input via DriveThruRPG, OpenQuest 2 finally went out to the IndieGoGo preorders and then after a brief pause was released to the general public via DriveThruRpg. Its been doing a roaring trade and has broken my previous first month best seller record 🙂 Its good to have it back as sales wise it will provide a steady income to meet art/development costs not only for the OQ2 line but for other bits and bats. Creativity sights are focused on the rest of the OQ2 project, various adventure books, a low-art lite version of the game and an Online SRD, but overall its good to get the big honking tome that is OQ2 out of the release pipe 🙂

Currently my late nights are filled with layout for Simon Brays and Paul Mitchener’s Here Be Dragons for OQ2. When I got the manuscript for this I was green with envy! Simon’s long been pestering me to do a spiritual successor to Griffin Mountain, but his teaming up Dr Mitch on this book has well succeed that.  It blends together a mix of ingredients (Sword and Sorcery, Clark Ashton Smith, ancient world culture and the films of Ray Harryhausen) and serves up a fine setting to explore, whose culture is illustrated every step of the way with fully stated out NPCs, full adventures, adventure seeds and small mythlets. If I was to do this one again with unlimited time, I’d be Kickstarting it as a lovely big box set. Unfortunately since time and money are in short supply, you’ll have to do with the 130+ page behemoth that Messrs Bray & Mitchener have put together.

Tomb of the Necromancer for Crypts and Things went out last month and is selling nicely. More on upcoming C&T releases soon.

River of Heaven is inching closer to Kickstarter this week as me and author John Ossoway meet up for Noodles later in the week to go over the final details. Big news on this soon with the aim of letting all of you who have been patiently waiting know when KS is going to start.

Some other stuff in the pipeline, but that’s been worked on for fun at the moment and more on that when its closer to release 🙂

The excitement has returned!

Man I’m more excited about D101 than I have been for a long time.

You see in recent years D101 had become this big list of things to do, like a pile of High School homework, while work and family became more demanding. Things started to drag as a result, and the only thing driving me on was sheer tenacity on my part and an obligation to get out the books that other people had worked on or were looking forward to. I think if it had not been for that I would have probably put D101 on hiatus.

But now my home and work have settled down, mainly because I’m better at coping with it, and the big block in the release tube that is OpenQuest 2 is done dusted, shipping to backers as I type and about to go on general release ( either tomorrow or next week). I’ve also gathered Paul Mitchener’s Tomb of the Necromancers together with some sweet artwork  which compliments Paul’s writing (which completely NAILS what I was trying to convey with C&T 🙂 ).  The light at the end of the tunnel suddenly is shining very brightly in my face 😀

This weekend I’m off to my favourite (and UKRoleplayers.com‘s) rpg convention. The small but perfectly formed Furnace in Sheffield’s Garrison Hotel (an old Napoleonic era Barracks, just off its old parade ground which is now a supermarket ) where its all about the games. No Larps, no stoopid trade hall (although there is a couple of enthusiastic traders) just 60 games over in a relaxing atmosphere. BRING IT ON!

D101 turned 5 last July, the anniversary of our first release Hearts in Glorantha issue 1, so when I get back as well as the usual fun of writing/producing I will be kicking off birthday celebrations which will last to the end of the year.

That’s all for now!

Knuckling under

Conpulsion 2013 was fantastic, and while I was only able to stay one day fully the mad awesome fun I had Friday-Sat means that this going to be my annual “break out of Winter” con. Hats off to Phil Harris and Greggor Hutton for refining last years format and taking it forward. Cast solid gold recommend from me 🙂

One of the highlights of Conpulsion was Friday night when I got to sit down with almost the full membership of the Collective Endeavour. I’ve spent the last year or so in a mental locked box of confusion about where D101 is going, so it was glad to get more than a few things straightened out from these chaps who have a fair weight of publishing experience behind them.

Unfortunately Conpulsion was cut short by issues at home and I’m gutted my planned visit to UK Games Expo (which is on like now) fell victim to this as well. With the house extension done I was hoping for things to return to ‘normal’. I’m now once again rolling with the changes and fitting D101 alongside that, which is a more realistic way of looking at things.

I’m now in a period that I’m firming up D101. First order of the day is working solid on the games that have to go out. OpenQuest 2 is the absolute priority, with River of Heaven coming next. Getting better at business is also a big aim. Getting a web store up and running for direct sales (I’ve still got a pile of stock from last years Continuum!) and making print editions available at Drivethrough for a start.

This and getting my home group back up and going for playtesting and fun are my priorities until I hit the last quarter of the year where I get to be out and about again. Furnace in Sheffield Oct 19-20 is up first (if you haven’t signed up yet, get in now last ten or so places last I looked) , this is more about me kicking back running games. Its followed by Dragonmeet in London on 7th December, where I’ll be in full sales mode with the D101 stall 🙂

 

Overview of D101 games as it whizzes past your nose!

I should have done a big state of the D101 at the beginning of the year, but I was up to my neck with Real Life™ stuff. If I had have done it would have had the cheesy title of “2013: The year of Mega Gaming Fun!” and I would have outlined all the fun stuff that I have planned to come out with this year.

2012 personally felt as if there was a bit of a spanner in the works due family issues. But despite this I learnt that D101 is a Juggernaut of a Beast that trundles on even when I’ve got less of an iron grip on the wheel. Look at what got released last year!!!

2013 has been quiet so far, with only the print release of Worlds of Wordplay (which has done quite nicely) with LOTS of stuff lined up for release later in the year. I’m going to keep quiet about specifics until I’ve got first drafts in, but so far lined up are:

  1. OpenQuest 2
  2. Savage North (The Directors Cut)
  3. Life and Death (expanded edition)
  4. Here Be Dragons (a new OQ adventure setting, Think Jason and the Argonauts meet Clark Ashton Smith directed by Ray Harryhausen)
  5. The River of Heaven (D100 Scifi by John Ossoway).
  6. Tomb of the Necromancer ( by Paul Mitchener for Crypts and Things )
  7. Dark Corners of the Empire a fantasy setting for Worlds of Wordplay/Wordplay
  8. Hearts in Glorantha 6 + 7 (content is already written, realised I had enough material for two issues!)
  9. Gloranthan Adventures issue 2 (Long overdue Lunar adventures book, art being produced and scenarios being revised)
  10. Project Darklight ( A stand alone Wordplay Cyberpunk game )
  11. The Ministry of Thunder ( an adventure/setting supplement for Monkey, a compilation of all the scenarios I’ve run at cons over the years).

Plus a ton of stuff bubbling under the surface for C&T, The Company, a big setting book for Glorantha ( on the size of the Book of Glorious Joy ), Wordplay and possibly FATE (if I can grok the system).

But hey more on that once I’ve got the behemoth that is OpenQuest 2 out the door 😉

 

 

Looking Big and finding Small, Looking Small and Finding Big

I have had a lot of days recently when I’ve been feeling low about D101 Games. This has been purely a reflection of my personal circumstances. We were out of our home in rented accommodation for a good eight months and just as that was reaching a boiling point of stress and anxiety my father was taken ill with terminal lung cancer. After a short but brutal fight he died a month later.  All this has thrown my carefully laid plans of world domination out of synch. Now that the dust has settled I’m desperately trying to pick up the pieces and get things back on track.

While trying to get my head around the ever thorny one of “where I’m I up to with D101” ,I have a saying that arose from me looking at the sales figures for D101 Releases that is helping me no end.

“When you look for big you will find Small. When you look small you will find BIG!” 

This reflects an observation I made, that if I’m looking at the figures expecting mega-bucks, I’m let down. If however I approach the figures in a more humble state of mind, I get to see how successful every D101 title has been, even the more obscure ones which had by necessity small production costs. Its a more Taoist way of looking at stuff, which fits in with my personal belief systems and makes me happy.  Oh and before you mistakenly say “You’ll never make any money out of RPGs”, lets just say D101 Games is a business, where artists and authors do get paid and I’ve built it to the point that I can occasionally draw money into the family finances. Sure it doesn’t replace the day job, which to be honest is easy money by comparison, but as far as learning on the job and having to do it part-time in any bit of time I can find after the high demands of my job and family, I’m doing very well thank you very much 🙂  Another example of looking “Looking Big and finding Small, Looking Small and Finding Big” 🙂

One vital and naturally arising element of this view, is the constant support I get from for wont of a better word “The Fans”. While D101 may not get wider recognition in an industry sense of getting huge coverage on RPG.net and wining (or even being nominated) for awards, I get a constant stream of thank yous and intelligent constructive criticism and questions in my inbox. This in itself is its own reward 🙂  Thank you to all who have contacted me in this way. Your kind comments and interest have literally kept D101 going over the last very bumpy eight months.

Overall this leads me to the conclusion that

D101 Games is a Small Press Games Publisher, who is Wining in a BIG way 🙂

 

 

Coming back to life

Hit the wall big time at the end of March. The big move back to D101 HQ from our rented accommodation, was as nasty as me and my wife had predicted it would be. Lots and lots of boxing up, shifting boxes up and down stairs, cleaning, then some more cleaning, dealing with unfinished bits and glitches in the house, adding to which  my Dad died after a brief but ugly battle with Lung Cancer.

Conpulsion at Edinburgh University Teviot House over the Easter weekend really lifted my spirits. I’ll make a fuller report of this awesome weekend later, but it really invigorated me and put my head in a bright and happy space.

With things sorting themselves out at home and my dad’s funeral next week, I’m finally coming back to life as a person and as

Coming at you down the pipe:

The Company – literally preparing this one today, should be out tomorrow.  The follow up adventure “Operation Camphor” should be out in the next month or so.

Empires Rising – Just about to go into final layout check 🙂

Crypts and Things: The Blood of the Dragon – about to be proofed and remaining art commissioned.

Here Be Dragons – in editorial with yours truly, for a summer release.

The Worlds of Wordplay – which is the new name of the reissued, revitalised and resized Wordplay The Big 5 + The Drowned Lands.

River of Heaven – John Ossoway’s D100 magnum opus.

…and a whole bunch of stuff for Glorantha, since Continuum ( a traditional hot bed of UK Gloranthaphiles is upcoming ), including Hearts in Gloratha issue 5.

Oh and not to mention a little thing called..OPENQUEST 2.

Man its great to be alive 🙂