I got to play River of Heaven, the Guns of Olympus Mons, at Winter Con 2020 at Fanboy3 in Manchester last weekend just gone. On a personal level, it was great to play in a game with Jon Ossoway, a man who knows his Sci-fi troupes inside out. As a publisher of River of Heaven, it was great to be playing the game with John and seeing exactly how it ticks with the author playing it.
The set up was simple and direct. The Renoucers, a sort of Fascist Luddite paramilitary movement who are out to stop the rise of AI, had taken over a military base on Olympus Mons, which a huge extinct volcano on Mars. Since said base controls the planet’s defence grid, our team of Marines were going in hard and fast using drop-pods to take it out. So cue a fast-paced military-techno-thriller, with much sneaking about, hacking into systems, taking out guards from a distance, as well as the all-out firefights you’d expect. John had included some hooks in the character’s backgrounds which led to some great roleplaying from the players, so it wasn’t all grunts-n-gunplay. I had fun ‘weapons-testing’ the power armour and a quite frankly scary array of guns and grenades our characters were equipped with. My favourite one was the Smart Grenade, which can be programmed to have a delayed explosion (“Hey Google, set explosion for 30 seconds after impact”) and to only go off when near actual combatants, not say, civilians
The best thing of all was that it felt like we were in a distinct Sci-fi universe, not a cheap knock off Star-Wars, Star Trek or Aliens.
7 Hills is among one of my favourite cons, and certainly one I won’t hesitate to sign up straight away. Its wall to wall RPGs for two days over five slots, in a warm, cosy and historic venue (the Garrison Hotel is an old Napoleonic barracks). It’s an RPG con that’s actually all about the RPGs. not some guest speaker, or some trade hall that shoves the games into the periphery, or a big LARP that sucks all the attendees in leaving GMs to twiddle their thumbs in the bar. Five slots, 10 or so tables
But it will fill up fast, especially the onsite accommodation at the hotel itself (tip ring them) and the slots for gming. So if you’ve been fancying going to a Garrison con, give it a go 🙂
Seven years ago the mega-corporation Stirling INC left the colony of New Oldham. It pulled all VIP personnel off-world to the Corporate HQ on Westminster, to consolidate assets during the Galactic War. As soon as they shut their Tower in the financial district the planetary economy went into recession.
A whole generation came of age during this time. Most enjoyed mass employment by joining various street gangs. Others found in jobs with the only other growth sector, Corporate security. A small minority, the Cyberpunks, set their sights higher on actually creating a fairer system for the people on-world, rather than a small number of investors off-world.
Now the Galactic War is over, and there are rumours that Stirling Inc is coming back. The lights are on at the Tower, and mystery money is buying up cheap stock on the local stock exchange. The Cyberpunks realise that must they either get their plans for planetary revolution off the ground, or they will get hunted down by the returning Corporate Executives.
All Systems Gone uses a hacked version of the Linimal system, called Reboot. It’s a direct and straightforward set of rules, using a unified 2d6 mechanic. Reboot uses a modified ruleset to stimulate the high-octane worlds of 23rd Century Cyberpunk in Space.
Holidays in the Sun
System: Savage Worlds
It is 1984 and five years since the glorious Punk revolution here in the United Republic. Our anarchistic methods toppled the monarchy and their cronies. Now it’s time to use the same techniques to bring down the Dictator of a banana republic in the south seas tropical island of Lalonde.
Will there be fast cars? Yes!
Will there be explosions? Yes!
Guns and Guitars? Hell yeah!
As well as the usual mob of homegrown anarchists, you’ll be assisted by our allies in US Scene who have expertise in disrupting CIA backed governments from their time enabling regime change in Central America.
SO KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
Cmdr Joe Strummer.
At last a game that is Punk! Not SortaPunk, or NotVeryPunk, or Idon’treallyunderstandPunk or even fucking TolkienPunk!. Using the Savage Worlds system because there will be lots of guns and shooting and stuff. Don’t sign up if you are of a gentle thoughtful persuasion, who dislikes swearing. Because there will be f**k all of that type of playstyle in this game!!
If you are a regular follower of D101 Games you’ll have noticed the last State of Address was back in 2016, and that things have been a touch wobbly since then. Monkey was kickstarted in the first couple of months of 2017, followed by its mega-adventure the Mandate of Heaven, which was a great payday for D101 and put enough money aside to get the books done. All plain sailing from here you would think. In June I left full-time employ to go full time with D101 working from home (cynics would say that I was becoming a House Husband 😉 ). All good and I was just settling in, when the wheels came off the bus. In July my mother in law was suddenly hospitalised and did not get home until the end of the year. During which time my family, was my priority and D101 became an occasional concern. It wasn’t until almost April 2018 that things had settled down at home and I could seriously work on Monkey, other outstanding books (see below). All in all, I lost a good year of work and pay. If you bought a book or supported me with kind words during that period, you have my thanks for helping me through that difficult period.
2018 in review
I spent much of last year playing catch up with Monkey, the last of the add on adventures for Crypts and Things Remastered Kickstarter and making steady progress with the long overdue River of Heaven Companion, To the Stars. It was also the year that after a five-year hiatus Hearts in Glorantha made a reappearance.
Monkey the RPG
After a wildly successful Kickstarter in 2017 the main rulebook and the free Pdf Quickstart was released in towards the end of the first half of the year. This was an auspicious and fantastic moment for me, since its very much a niche game, as far away from D&D’s troupes as you can possibly get, and a project that is very close to my heart. So it was awesome to see it out in the wild, and hold the hardcover, crammed with lovely art from Peter Frain and Dan Barker.
I’m now catching up writing the supplements; the mega adventure the Mandate of Heaven (which is at first draft stage), the short mini-campaign The Ministry of Thunder (which is the final stages of writing), The Golden Book of 101 Immortals and the Monkey Companion (a book of extra rules and adventures), all of which I’m getting out this year.
Two issues of Hearts in Glorantha were released in 2019. Issue six was the resurrection issue after a five year hiatus and issue 7 was our tenth anniversary issue We featured scenarios and articles for all the published systems; Guy Milner provided his Beard of Lhynkor Mhy for 13th Age Glorantha, Stewart Stansfield provided an Anti-Hero Lunar Duck for RuneQuest Glorantha and I wrote a duo of RuneQuest Classic adventures Duck Hill in issue 6 and The Temple of the Golden Gorp in issue 7.
It was heartening to see the surge in interest in Hearts in Glorantha, due to the availability of new Gloranthan games and material from Chaosium Inc, and new names alongside the familiar contributors to the magazine.
On a sad note Glorantha Creator Greg Stafford passed away at the end of the year. Greg was a firm supporter of Hearts in Glorantha, who contributed a few one pagers on magic (featured in HiG 1-5 collected) in the early days as encouragement, and his warm words of support will be missed.
Want to try out Crypts and Things in a quick 3-4-hour scenario? Have your adventurers race to save the world of Zarth from a great evil? Then this book that came out in September, which features two such scenarios and a guide of how to write C&T convention scenarios is what you want.
In the last quarter of 2018, D101’s coffers were in need of filling and I struck upon the idea of doing a quick Halloween Themed adventure, and the Road to Hell (which was previously an OpenQuest adventure published in OpenQuest Adventures) was 80% of the way there, bar conversion to Lamentations of the Flame Princess (a horror-themed OSR game based of B/X D&D). Currently, it’s in fulfilment to the backers, but will soon be available to preorder via the D101 Web Store. Best way to know when its out Is to subscribe to the D101 newsletter.
Despite being free of the concerns of leave allowances, I cut back on my convention attendances. I made a conscious decision not to go the trade shows that require outlay up front, so UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet were dropped from my schedule.
7 Hills (April) and Furnace (October) at the Garrison Hotel in Sheffield continued to be a ton of fun as ever. This year they were also joined by new kid on the block Northstar in May, a small convention dedicated to Sci-Fi RPGs. Outside of the Garrison cons, there was Continuum (Leicester) in July which I’ve not been for a good six years due to family holidays, and it was a good show to launch Monkey upon the gaming masses. I also made an appearance at Grogmeet 2018 here in my home city of Manchester, were I ran Crypts and Things and the D101 Games Magic Stall made its most minimal appearance ever (see the photo below)
Catch up of outstanding books
As noted above I’ve a good chunk of Monkey books to release, and the Great Crypts and Things Campaign aka Under Dark Spires to get out. Rest assured while I work and release the new shiny things I’ll be announcing
Talking of which…
Coming to Kickstarter in 2019
I have two firm dates for your diary.
Into the Shroud #2 (now until Feb 25th)
On Kickstarter now at time of writing until Feb 25, as part of the ZineQuest initiative. This is your chance to get both the new second issue, which has been gathering dust on my hard drive for a year or so, and the first issue in print. Its already funded, and the first stretch goal (10 new monsters) has also been met.
This is Paul Mitchener’s post-D&D game of fantastic exploration of a series of dimensions by inhabitants of the Empire of Ys. This one has been in development for a couple of years now and it’s a true gem of a D20 game, whose system we’ve christened the Beyond 20 system. Well be getting the whole pool of recent D101 artists on board to illustrate this book, and Glynn Seal (aka MonkeyBlood design, 2018 Golden EnNie Award winner for Cartography) will be doing the many maps that show the worlds that Empire interacts with.
OQ is ten this year in September. I’m currently playtesting a new version of the game, and gathering a host of talent to illustrate the 10th Anniversary edition, which I want to be the best illustrated version I’ve put out. Once the main rulebook comes out I want it to be quickly supported by a regular release schedule of adventures. Tentatively the Kickstarter to fund OpenQuest 3 will this coming summer Jul/Aug.
River of Heaven, To the Stars!/Revised Rulebook
The long-delayed Companion book is done and to go with its release I’ve revised the main rulebook slightly to take into consideration the small but significant system changes I made to the OQ system in 2016’s OQ Refreshed Edition and another proof-read. Both of these should be out the end of this month or by mid-march latest.
Hearts in Glorantha/Gloranthan Adventures
After last year’s return to Glorantha, I’ve got more than enough enthusiasm to carry on. Call for contributions for HiG #8 will be made soon, with the aim of getting two more issues out this year. Also one or two issues of Gloranthan Adventures, including Defenders of the Dark (GA #3). I’m currently assessing how to do this given 13th Age Glorantha and RuneQuest Glorantha are now out.
The Further Adventures of Dr Dee’s Associates
I’ll be doing more adventures set in the Jacobean Period, and the sequel to The Road to Hell has already been partially written (look out for it
Blue Skies Development Department
These are things that I’m either thinking about doing or have a rough outline or even a partial draft, but they are not 100% done yet.
Project Darklight will return, as Reboot. Not 100% on the system yet (strong contenders are Fate or Yin/Yang or even HeroQuest OGL) . At some point, I’ll be sitting down and working it out.
I shall be doing something with the soon to be released HeroQuest OGL SRD, starting off with a self-contained version of the Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Fantasy (which was made up of two pdf releases Dungeoneering and Monsters).
Beyond Monkey. Once the backlog of supplements coming out of the Monkey Kickstarter is done and dusted, I’ll be doing something more with the Yin/Yang system that features in the game. Front runners are The Water Margin, but that requires me to sit down and do a TON of research so don’t expect anything more than a con game this year, or something else Kung-Fu/Wuxia related.
Some thing for D&D 5th. I’ve recently taken the plunge as a 1st Ed/Basic/Expert D&D Dungeon Master and run the game and liked it very much. It’s straight forward for me to run, and even at first level there were lots of fun things for the players to do with their characters. I’d go as far as there were points where the players were running the game themselves!
Isle of Death for Mythras. I’ve long been a fan of Design Mechanism’s D100 game Mythras. I’ve now got a framework for releases using that system, and a starter adventure that is full of drama and action. When I sit down to do this, I’ll be previewing and gathering my thoughts on the Sorcerer Under Mountain blog.
Crypts and Things. After Under Dark Spires is out I’m going to have a pause and look at what/where I’m going with Crypts and Things. There’s still a lot of adventuring to be had on Zarth 😊
The return of Fortune. This is our small Fate variant for which we released two-pickup and play small RPGs (everything you need in about 100-150 A5 books) Hunters of Alexandria and The Hollow West. Me and principal author Paul Mitchener have started discussions/planning to get the other various game books we have on our hard-drives out into the wild, and the (strong) possibility of an expanded Hunters of Alexandria.
Convention appearances for 2019
The Magic Stall shall be materialising at…
7 Hills (Garrison Hotel, Hillsborough, Sheffield)
Northstar (Garrison Hotel, Hillsborough, Sheffield) – A science-fiction rpg con that I’ll be running River of Heaven
Furnace (Garrison Hotel, Hillsborough, Sheffield)
Grogmeet (Fanboy 3, Manchester). Get on the Grogpod and you’ll get an invite to this awesome one-day event at the end of the year.
GoPlayManchester (Fanboy 3, Manchester) – this is a monthly meetup I run in Manchester @Fanboy 3. While I’m not trading as D101 there, I do run and run D101 stuff there.
I may add more to that list as the year goes on, but the above are dead certs.
Others flying the D101 flag are:
Neil Benson (aka OldScouseroleplaying on twitter) is running The Road to Hell at UK Games Expo and at Deva Con (Chester).
The D101 Games Newsletter
Stay up to date with all the new releases and news from D101 Games, by signing up to our monthly newsletter. Also, I’ll be running regular competitions, prize draws and giving discounts (this month there’s a code for Hunters of Alexandria).
I’ve weathered a rough patch over the last couple of years, and D101 Games has proven surprisingly resilient despite me feeling stretched thin at times. This is in no small part due to our supporters and contributors. You have my thanks.
Now that I’m refreshed expect a more frequent and aggressive release schedule as the year goes on 🙂
It was your job to guard the Dread Portal to Erebus, but somehow, someone slipped through on your watch last night.
This security breach is bad news. Erebus is a particularly foul world that the Empire of Ys withdrew from after a disastrous colonisation attempt. They kept the portal, closed and under guard by ex-members of the Explorer’s Guild, just in case of emergencies. As as far as you’ve been told, there was no emergency last night. Someone is up to mischief. Now the various Noble Houses are up in arms about the breach, fingers are being pointed in your direction, and you’ve got the sinking feeling that you are going to end being scapegoated while whoever snuck through the gate gets away with it.
Time to dust off your membership of the Explorers Guild, which gives you temporary immunity to whatever court action the Nobles bring against you and the right to prove your innocence. As well as the power to go world hoping to Erebus to bring the real criminals to justice.
Beyond Dread Portals is Paul Mitchener’s take on D&D. Which initially started off as Paul’s homage to Planescape, but mutated into its own thing. It’s a large fantasy setting, where a magical city-state of Ys sits at the centre of an empire of other worlds connected by magic portals (hence the title). Its also a ruleset – which I’m tagging as post-D&D. It takes D&D as its starting point and then cuts and adds to it to make the ruleset match the setting. The nearest analogy is I can make if that second wave of AD&D settings (Planescape, Dark Sun, Ravenloft etc.) had been self-contained games with modified D&D based rulesets. Bear in mind Paul also takes into consideration 30 years of games design on top of that, although he does so in a way that isn’t jarring to the starting point.
Tags: Dimension hoping Fantasy, post-D&D
Then for the rest of the convention, I’ll be running three slots of Monkey.
Then almost a month on is North Star (28th-29th April) – a convention dedicated entirely to Science Fiction RPG’s. So you’ve got everything from Traveller, Tenra Bansho Zero (a bonkers Japanese RPG), Star Wars, Star Trek and a few other games in different settings spun up using Fate and the Cortex system.
My three games over the course of the weekend:
System: River of Heaven
Max Players: 4
“The space station was offline. The Caretaker started its daily routine of checks to see if it was time to reactivate the station. One by one the parameters of the Station’s primary mission objectives were ticked and as they were the lights went on in the modules responsible for delivering those goals. Eventually, the station was a sea of lights in the darkness of space. A beacon of HOPE for the shattered system that it was situated in. With all the lights on, the Caretaker automatically started The Call, to pull suitable personnel to the station, who would be responsible for achieving the station’s goals.
Your motives match the HOPE’s mission parameters, so you answered the Call. You now wait in the main hanger bay, along with others who also answered, waiting to be taken up to the briefing room to be formally inducted into the station’s staff.”
HOPE is set on a space station in a solar system with issues and problems, that its staff are responsible for solving. It takes its cues from TV shows like Babylon 5, Deep Space 9 and Space 99. it uses the River of Heaven game system, based on OpenQuest a straightforward D100 system.
Then on Sunday, a retro-Cyberpunk two-parter: Cyber Crash.
Game: Cyber Crash: Tell me why I don’t like Loonies?
Max Players: 4
“Right Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s your next assignment. You know Anna Rose, that presenter off Treasure Punt on Channel 23? Yeah, the one with the designer jumpsuits (no sniggering at the back). Well, she’s off to do a film a documentary about a bunch of charmers, called the Happy Loonies. They’re a new street gang, who to put it mildly are a colourful bunch. Your cover will be acting as a media crew for Miss Rose so you need to dress appropriately and follow her every move and make sure she stays safe. Oh yeah and she’ll not only be wanting to follow them around the nightclubs of the city centre, but also the after-hours party scene in Mosside, so make sure you’ve got appropriate weapons AND licenses. Remember if its no point having a licence to kill if you don’t carry on your person to show the boys in blue.
There is a bonus, from our friends in the Organised Crime Unit. The Loonies as well as being world class party animals are also into peddling a new drug called Joy, that the OCU would like to know more about. “
Part 1 of Cyber Crash, a retro-Cyberpunk game using a quick simple version of Fate called Fortune (by our own Dr Mitch). This scenario introduces the alternative history setting of 1984 Manchester and the men and women of SafeCorp’s Cyber Veterans Response Team.
What do I mean by ‘Retro-Cyberpunk”? Think Max Headroom, not Bladerunner, with a soundtrack that is more Joy Division, not techno. It uses an alternative history setting where cyberware emerged from its use during the Falklands War of 1982 and is seeping onto the street as beaten up army surplus. There is no virtual reality, but instead, a text-based network carried through the analogue TV signal called “The Oracle”. Where Hackers break into secure computer clusters to use green screen terminals to access private information stored securely or clunky armband PDA’s with wireless connections that are constantly dropping.
“OK team, get your guns and vests ready, and head out to the roof and jump in the Spinner.
We’ve got a hot lead that the IRA gang who were responsible for last year’s bombing of the Arndale Centre are back in town, and in one of the pubs run by the Salford Boys. We’ve got a limited time-window to catch these bastards. They are currently being held down in a firefight by civilians on our payroll. The Head of Greater Manchester Police has agreed with the boss, that there will be a ‘Delayed Police Response’, but the same can not be said of MI5 if they are aware of the situation.
I need not remind you that these men are on SafeCorp’s most wanted list and their apprehension ALIVE will help our legal department dismiss the case brought by the victims of the bombing against SafeCorp that is currently going through the courts. I’m sure management will be reward anyone involved with a large cash bonus”
Part 2 of Cybercrash, a Fate-based retro-Cyberpunk game set in an alternative 1984 Manchester. This game continues the adventures of the Cyber Veterans Response Team, and from its explosive start explores the deep dark secrets of the origins of cyberware within this alternative reality. No need to have played part 1 to join this game.
So Dragonmeet 2016 was my first visit since I last went in 2006 when it was held in the rather dour and downbeat Kensignton Hall. This time out it was nestled in the heart of Hammersmith at the Novotel. I didn’t initially appreciate shinyness of the venue, since we came up with the stock in the goods elevator and were initially focused with getting set up in the trades hall, where I spent 85% of my time.
To any of you who swung past the D101 Games stall, tucked away in the corner next to Leisure Games, and said hi thank you. Apologies if you’ve seen me before at Expo and I didn’t recognise you. There were a few lulls but it was full on from its start at 10am until finally we got the signal from the organisers that we could shut up shop at 6pm. There were audible sighs of relief from the traders around me as people realised (we had originally been told 8 was the earliest).
Overall we turned a profit, as we do at Expo as well, and I’m finally getting real grip on what sells and what doesn’t. I’ve now got a couple of years of hard data from Expo and with the figures I got from Dragonmeet a very definite picture is emerging that I’ll be taking action on next time I’m out with the stall (Airecon in Harrogate 10-12th March).
The con was a ton of fun. Perhaps too much fun for one day. Not only were sales good for us, but I got to talk to lots of customers about the games – especially Monkey which I was letting people know that the Kickstarter starts on Sunday 8th January 2017. I say quietly, well it was until official Monkey #1 fan Lloyd found out and was busy telling people, including at the “What’s happening in Indie and Story games seminar”. I wondered why sales of Monkey spiked late afternoon 🙂
That vague thing called “Networking” with fellow industry types also worked nicely for me. I’m usually not a big fan of putting myself forward, I prefer to let the work speak for itself, but I had some good chats with various folk that were inspiring and useful. Not least with Mike from Leisure Games, Ben and Mark from Airecon (which is having its next outing in March in the Harrogate Conference centre and D101 will be involved heavily on the RPG front so watch this space) and I had the pleasure to meet industry veteran artist Tony Hough and leaf through a folder crammed with gorgeous fantasy art.
Surprisingly there was enough time to be sociable either side of the con. Despite arriving late on Friday me and my driver Steve got to go for a cracking Vietnamese at SaigonSaigon not far from Premier Inn where we were staying before getting stuck in a lift in the apartment block were the rest of our friends from the North had their accommodation. Stoically we waited it out for an hour, heads down reading on e-readers, until we were got out. Then a nice bit of booze was provided by our hosts to calm nerves (cheers Lynn and John).
After the con I bumped into the London Gloranthaphiles (Colin, Tressey, Dan, Gwen and Nick) and went out for another oriental themed tea, where I discovered the clean tasting delights of Lucky Buddha beer ( with its lovely happy buddha shaped green bottles – which I was too polite to take one) . Then back to the hotel bar to meet up with my Northern mates for more beer and spirits, before calling it a night. Then a clear run back to the North the next day.
Would I be back again? Yes on balance, it was a fun, profitable and inspiring enough for me for me to come back.
Been a good day, lots of things came together nicely.
Crypts and Things is in the final stages of print proof so should be out next week 🙂 Its been a long black hole the final stages of putting that one together, but I’m very happy with the book. It’s a big 248 page book with lovely art and a fantastic cover. A great team of people pulled together to get it done. But its been crunch time on it for what seems like for ever, but we are there now.
Next thing for C&T is scenario support. Its part of the Kickstarter but I’ve got a plan to land it all in the coming 3-4 months. David M. Wright who did the art for the main rule book and the same team who helped me proof C&T remastered are on fire to kick the adventures into shape. I’ve also plans for dedicated support for conventions/store demos via a program I’m calling the “Graveyard Shift”. Oh and watch out for a special Halloween release 🙂
Project Darklight, my rules light Cyberpunk/Ufology game is now out in both pdf and print, and I plan to get some support drummed up for it. Its had a very low-key release but plans are afoot to raise awareness for it 🙂
I’ve now got a webstore that you can buy stuff directly from me. It was greatly satisfying posting out the first batch of orders today. If you are in the UK post is free 🙂
We’re booked in for Dragonmeet in London in early December, so it will be nice to see folk at this one day trade show.
River of Heaven is getting an outing at the upcoming Furnace convention. I get to run a scenario called Starshine, which if all goes right will be the beginning of a short Living Campaign for River of Heaven. Stay tuned for details on how that one pans out 🙂 Also its crunch time for River of Heaven Companion, along time promised.
Hearts in Glorantha 6 is on its way in. All the content is in, we have a cover. So its time for editorial, proofing and art. Hope to land both this and the River of Heaven Companion by Dragonmeet.
Oh and the ram has touched the wall on Monkey the 2nd Incarnation – first chapter of the new version has just been completed. I’ll get it proofed and then post it as an early preview 🙂
So all is good. Glad that Crypts and Things Remastered is finally seeing the light of day, because it’s a great thing in itself and it frees me up to get on with a lot of fun releases 🙂
Everytime I looked down at the clock, I was suddenly much closer to 7 Hills held arround Easter time annually. The fact that Easter was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay early this year and I was focused on other stuff (getting Crypts and Things Remastered the damn deal done and the recent OpenQuest Bundle of Holding) meant that my sense of time was completely off on this one.
So boosch I’m in the car with the esteemed John Ruddy driving me through Manchester commuters rushing to go home for the weekend, the misty tops of the Pennines and then all too soon into the land of 7Hills, Furnace and Sheffield Wednesday Football club, Hillsborough Sheffield.
We arrived early about 5 ish, gassed much to the huddle of other early people and then I ordered the traditional Veggie Burger n chips. Then talked in to the evening and drank too much as usual (but don’t worry God lets me get away with one night of excess 😉 ). Highlight of the night had to be Declan bequeathing Neil the “Box of stuff” that had been in the attic……(see the pictures below to see why).
After shaking off any hint of hangover over a fresh and frank breakfast which included much chat about the state of RQ/Chaosium/CoC 7th Ed/OpenQuest I was off to get my stuff together for the first slot of the day.
Which for me was me running the New West, for two players (Malcolm and Tom). This is a game of Cowboys and Indians (and occasionally Dinosaurs) at the centre of the Hollow Earth, using Dr Mitch’s straightforward and streamlined Fate variant Fortune (see Hunters of Alexandria for a published version of this rule set). We had a great time, the small number of players allowed me to focus on the loud and rawkous action that this game tends to produce. The stars of this Saturday Morning Cowboy, survived a ride by shooting, an assassination attempt during a ballroom brawl (that’s right they kicked off during tea time in the 1st class restaurant) on the steam boat that they were travelling up river on, narrowly avoided an Undefeated regiment of Confederates armed with maxim guns and cannon by use of Egyptology, before facing off with the ancient guardian of an ancient technology that controls the weather (and more). All good fun 🙂
Lunch was the predictable Cheese and Onion pasties, but I was 80% close to getting a salad (honest), from Morrisons just across the road from the venue. A quick set of stretches to fight off fatigue and then back to the main gaming room….
…to find my afternoon game of OpenQuest: The Last Retreat had received no sign ups. Nada, zero, natch. Which to be honest doesn’t surprise me. I’ve over twenty years experience of GMing at conventions and I’ve seen systems I’ve run come and go as player interest waxes and wanes. I suspected that OQ (which to be honest plays on the simple joy of D100 fantasy) had outstayed its welcome and this confirmed it. I’ve run it numerous times and its now got many more sexy looking competitors, so this time even my energy for it (rejuvenated by the recent success of the OQ Bundle of Holding) wasn’t going to magically manifest players.
So I took the afternoon off and perused the many shiny books being sold by Jim of Patriot Games, and had a good natter about the state of the UK RPG Industry.
The it was time for my last GMing session of the weekend: Sorcerer Under the Mountain, my OSR tribute to the Fighting Fantasy Dungeons of my youth like the Warlock Of Firetop Mountain. System wise I choose The Black Hack, a very simple cut down version of D&D that effectively uses the best rulings from a number of its incarnations and cuts out the chaff to give a complete version of the game in about 20 pages. I playtested it at home with a mix of curious & grognard players, and had pretty much the same here. Both times it went down a storm 🙂 At some point soon The Sorcerer Under the Mountain will be on D101’s release schedule, so look out for it if you are interested 😉
I wasn’t going to risk God’s wrath so virtually no booze and an early night on Saturday (11pm!) so I can be up bright and early for Sunday’s shenanigans.
Breakfast was pleasant (and filling) but far less controversal than Saturdays. A quick freshen up and check out of the room (which was as usual very pleasant and homely for my stay) and then it was back to the venue for slot 1.
Which was Neil Smith’s epic rendition of Tenra Bansho Zero –THE HyperBlast Asian game. TBZ for those of you who’ve not come across its gentle charms is a Japanese Roleplaying game lovingly translated into two thick graphic novel sized books – one setting introduction and the other the rules. The setting is mad as a box of frogs – in that its full on Manga Sci-fi meets Samurai Action Flick. The rules straight forward ( a very clever dice pool system ) with a strong framework of play that allows fast character driven action and plot development. Neil was using the more sedate Ruined Empire setting, that is less maximum metal turned up to 11 than the default Tenra setting but perhaps better suited to the political game of intrigue he had us six players embroiled in from Scene Zero (the opening scene, were each player plays out a quick intro to put their character into context of the adventure to come). I’m still not convinced it is something that I run as a con game, despite my rather giddy proclamations in the post-game-glow. I’d probably have to run a successful run at home first. But I enjoyed it immensely. Unlike some other games where it’s all about the collective story of the party, I could tell you six stories about each of the characters as a result of that game.
Quick spot of lunch, then the traditional Raffle! What’s in the D101 Magic Bag? You’ll have to ask Thomas Lock who was first out of the hat and picked it as his prize 😉
Last game of the con was Guy Milner’s 13th Age tribute to Village of Homlett. I say tribute because Guy played hard and fast following the scenario as written. But hey that’s ok because 13th Age is written to do that, with its narrative cunning and its clever and fast mechanical bits that work to uplift the bits that tend to drag in normal D&D. A very good game, which had all the players engaged and laughing in what can be a difficult slot due to player fatigue.
Maximum thanks to the organisers Paul Mitchener and Graham Spearing. Thanks to every one who I played or talked to.
Already looking forward to next year’s installment which has the theme of Urban Legends.
The Company (re-release) (Powered by OpenQuest, December)
Convention wise as well as my local cons, Furnace (which celebrated it’s 10th Year) and Seven Hills, D101 did UK Games Expo, which is the nearest thing we have to US Gen Con, which was a huge success for us. We came out with a profit and had a great time meeting new people, catching up with old friends and generally bringing D101 to a whole new audience. To top it all River of Heaven came third in the new RPG category of the UK Games Expo Awards, behind the mighty Mutant Year Zero & Mindjammer RPGs from Modiphius Entertainment.
Crypts and Things Remastered is going to be our big first release of 2016. Its written and illustrated, and the additional content (never mind the revision of the existing 1st edition) doubles the size of it. Currently I’m at the stage of getting the main rulebook extensively edited and proofed. Once that’s done I’ve got a stream of adventure modules ( 2 reissues, 1 conversion and 3 New) to release over the coming year. Then we move on to doing supplements for the game and “Oh what sights I have to show you” 🙂
Monkey the 2nd Incarnation is coming along nicely. Its in playtest and writing phase, and I hope to make some form of announcement on Monday February the 8th which the start of the Chinese Year of the Monkey about its immediate future 🙂
Despite its low key release Hunters of Alexandria really did well. This is Paul Mitchener’s Monster Hunting in Ancient Alexandria game, using his Fortune rules which is a version of Fate siting somewhere between Fate Accelerated and Fate Core with influences from Jadepunk, which are simple and written straight to the point (the core rules are only 10 pages of A4). So I’m currently planing more Fortune books for 2016.
The return of Wordplay! First off Project Darklight is currently being tweaked to fit in with Graham Spearing’s new Wordplay 2.0 rules (which will be out shortly via his Wordplay Games ). Then I’ve also got a Wordplay version of The Empire of Gatan (the setting that’s included with OpenQuest Deluxe) and Infinite Loop (an expanded version of Infinite War, which was last seen in Worlds of Wordplay) in the works. Both these titles will have a striped down version of the rules, which I’m dubbing Wordplay lite, and be self contained and pick up and play like Hunters of Alexandria.
Glorantha is Go!Hearts in Glorantha #2 (aka vol2 #1) is being assembled as we speak, Gloranthan Adventures #3 Defenders of the Dark is coming along nicely and I’m even planing a Mega Adventure for Gloranthan Adventures #4.
I can’t believe its February already, things are moving on so fast. I’m using the fact that it’s the Chinese New Year to do the State of D101 Address today, for reasons that will become clear below.
But first a quick report on the year just gone.
Last year overall was a year of sticking my head down and getting the last bits of OpenQuest 2 done and pushing River of Heaven out. It also was year of getting D101’s house in order, of pulling up bootstraps and of streamlining my working procedures so that I’m not up to silly o’clock doing layout and other D101 stuff. I also went back in time and looked at what made D101 exciting and fun in the first couple of years and how the heck I had managed to pump out so much. I realised a lot of it was my attitude and so I had a ‘reset’ of my head to put me back in that zone of excitement again…..wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
River of Heaven Kickstarter
This took up the majority of my time this year. It was more than worth it on both for personal satisfaction and for restoring faith and confidence in D101 as a fun business adventure. It set a nice achievable template for future Kickstarters, which I’ll be using for all D101’s big releases. Releasing the main rulebook just before Christmas was a satisfying way to end the year.
This year I seriously up the ante. 2015 should go down as our most Mega Gaming Fun year EVER!
Crypts and Things Remastered
MARCH 1st 2015 mark this date in your calendar. This is when I launch the Kickstarter to fund the remastered version of our popular Swords and Sorcery RPG, Crypts and Things. Remastered means that all the art is being replaced, the rules are being tided up and streamlined and if the campaign funds there will be extra content. More rules, monsters, spell and setting information.
An expanded version of the Sci-fi setting that first saw light of day in Worlds of Wordplay. This is a game of two rival conspiracies fighting each other, for the fate of the time stream itself. It is inspired by Fritz Liber’s Big Time and Moorcook’s Jerry Cornelius stories.
Lost Fools of Atlantis
April 1st mark this date in your diary. The Grand Ascended Masters demand it! On this day they will transmit information about the game that was previously sighted in the 2000s and is now finally making it’s descend through the ether into manifest reality. A rules lite humorous look at occult conspiracies vying for control of everyday reality.
Both Lost Fools of Atlantis and Infinite War are the first of a line of FATE-Lite game books, which will blend a quick and concise version of the FATE rules (codenamed FORTUNE and written by the esteemed Dr Mitch) with Setting and Adventure(s), in a 6” x 9” Black and White illustrated book, in MGF way 🙂 Dr Mitch’s Drownlands will also make it into this line eventually.
Hearts in Glorantha & Gloranthan Adventures
Hearts in Glorantha will be coming back in a new and improved format later this year and Gloranthan Adventures #2 is in its final stages of layout now (tentative release March/April latest). Life is returning to the lozenge after too many years away.
River of Heaven
Currently working on the next scenario release Last Witness and then onto the River of Heaven Companion, which will be a collection of scenarios, rules and setting material.
I plan to support OQ with smaller module releases, but the next big thing for this year is the Return to the Savage North, a follow on from our popular Savage North Setting. This 90-120 page supplement will feature more fun adventures and a deeper look at the lands and the personalities from this D100 Swords and Sorcery setting.
My rules-lite Cyberpunk game recently got to playtest stage, only to go straight back to development. Good news is that I’m already working on new system for the game, so it will be out later this year.
…and last but not least!
MONKEY! The 2nd Incarnation
I’ve started work on an expanded and revised version of our fun game of the Chinese Classic “Journey to the West”. Art duties are very capably being handled by Peter Frain. The game is in development this year, and if things go swiftly I intend to Kickstart it at the end of the year. If you are interested in helping out contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as our local cons of7 Hills(April 18 – 19 ) & Furnace (17-18 Oct Sheffield ), we’ll be pushing the boat out and attending UK Games Expo(Birmingham 29- 31 May) . Come drop by and see us in the Monarch Suite 🙂
What we won’t be doing in 2015
It’s better to aim high and miss, but sometimes reality sets in and you realise some projects have run their course or really shouldn’t proceed. Here’s a list of stuff I’ve previously announced but won’t be going forward with.
Ending in 2015
The Company, Worlds of WordPlay, and the Book of Glorious Joy (for Glorantha) have all run their course and are being retired at the end of this month. Last chance to buy over at DriveThruRpg.com.
Me and John came to the realisation that we have both moved on from the idea of doing Cthulhu Rising as a standalone game, since I first announced it. We’ve both got busy schedules and the required excitement to get Cthulhu Rising out the door just isn’t there.
Well in roughly three months time I’ll be making the final preparations to go to 7 Hills, the laid back spring sibling to autumn’s Furnace held at the same venue. If you live nearby I can thoroughly recommend it (see last years report) .
Here’s my offerings
Name of the game: Stainless Steel Providers
System: Project Darklight
Game Slot: 1
Number of Players: 6
They call you the Losers 242, since you come straight out of District 242 and to them you are just yet another street gang. A bunch of suicidal cyborg motorcycle gangers out to make mayhem and die in a blaze of glory.
But they don’t know the story. How you and your comrades from the infamous 5th Mechanised Regiment (Imperial Sterling INC) where demobbed to the **** hole of a planet they call New Oldham after the Galactic War. A burnt out, crashed, cesspit of belligerent idiots who claim descent from the clans of Northern England. You only ‘agreed’ since your Corporate Liaison said there would be a great relocation package. They even agreed to move your families to New Oldham. That’s where it all went to hell. The transport carrying your loved ones burned up in atmosphere – the victim of a terrorist attack- on the way to your new home. How you’ve spent the last year howling in grief fighting off constant attacks from racist hooligan locals. Now a beacon of hope has been lit. A signal from the transport ship has been detected coming from the wilderness beyond the city.
Time to jump on your steel stead and ride off into the dust!
Project Darklight is a rules light cyberpunk game using the WordPlay system, set in the bright Corporate future of the 23rd Century after a mass exodus from Earth.
Name of the game: Wootz!
System: Monkey 2nd Edition
Game Slot: 2
Number of Players: 6
Your great trek to India from China to collect the lost cannons of Buddhist lore is nearly over. Standing in your way is the great foundry where they make the famed Wootz metal. Wootz metal is famed for its sharpness and strength is misused by tyrants and warlords all over the east. In the hope of spreading compassion you and your fellow pilgrims feel compelled to end this factory of suffering and defeat the Demons of Pain that blight this place.
You are wary of the old saying that even the wise man must melt and dissolve to attain new form of enlightenment.
Come play Monkey, in its second incarnation which features a much streamlined and simplified version of the game system, a game of epic light hearted Chinese kung-fu flavoured adventures. You play an Immortal out of favour with Heaven. Help them cultivate their Te (or personal power/virtue) and amass awesome chi-powers in the process. No prior knowledge of the system or Chinese Mythology required.
Name of the game: Old Steel Ruins
System: Crypts and Things
Game Slot: 3
Number of Players: 6
In days of yore hot molten metal poured from the wounded Zarth. Mighty Sorcerers melded it into buildings of glittering Steel. They enslaved the land and the people. Until the Gods themselves were moved by the evil wizards hubris and buried them and their city under hot scolding sky fall ash! So the Steel Empire came to end, its treasures buried for millennia, its location a mystery. UNTIL NOW! Brave scouts have discovered the City of Steel and have shared its location. Join the expedition to explore the Old Steel Ruins and discover THE SECRET OF STEEL!
An adventure for up to six 5th Level characters, using Crypts and Things a distinctly British Old School game, based upon the classics from the late 70s/early 80s, of Swords and Sorcery Adventure.
Tags: OSR, D&D, Swords & Sorcery, Foul smelly Khaos, Hair caked with the Ash of Ages, Lightly Gritted Sinews.
Name of the game: The City of Ironsmash
Game Slot: 4
Number of Players: 6
The long lived Trolls of the Queendom of Halikiv have deep memories.
They remember the Gbjai Wars of the Dawn Age. How the men of light came out of the east over the mountains. How they conspired with Dwarfs and build a Forge-City on the Queendom’s borders, spawning iron armed and armoured warriors. If the Night Queen herself had not sent her son Arkat Kingtroll to lead the Black Legions against the city, how the Queendom would have been exterminated. Instead it was the Trolls who did the extermination and how the city is named after their deeds there. Happy memories of victory in the City of Ironsmash. Now the storm scum are back in dark Halkiv and a small band of Black Legionaries travel to the city of Blackrock to ask for reinforcements from the Great Hag of the city. For they fear the forges of Ironsmash have been seized and once again good Troll hunting lands are threatened.
This is a big straightforward war story of Troll Warriors getting their Darkness on to trash Human barbarians. It requires no knowledge of the system or Glorantha. All will be gently introduced in an entertaining way over the course of the adventure. A Mega Gloranthan Fun game, so no basket weaving, sheep herding or anthropological discussions, only big fun adventure !
Tags: Glorantha , Trolls, Steel, Mega Gloranthan Fun!