The Great Escape

I keep on putting off my State of D101 Games 2020 address. The short version is, we are doing well. New stuff is getting out there via the Kickstarters, and we’ve got some great things in the pipeline.

But there’s the stuff that hasn’t got done. That has been hanging around my neck like a millstone preventing me, and in all honesty, going forward.

So I’m currently looking at all the outstanding work from various Kickstarters I’ve run over the years. Stretch goals that have got overlooked and periodically forgotten, as a one band I’ve tried to struggle on regardless.

So given the current Lockdown, I’m using this as a golden opportunity. To get my head down and get all these bits done and out there. I’m calling the whole project “The Great Escape”, and my aim is to have everything done and published and in backers hands by the time Lockdown is lifted here in the UK (which I reckon will be mid-June).

Last year I got To the Stars! the long-awaited River of the Heaven companion out by being bloody-minded about it. So I learnt what I needed to do to bring these long-overdue stretch goals back from the dead.  Which basically boils down to three steps.

  1. I’m injecting the fun back into a project that has become “that thing I have to do as work”, remembering the thrill and excitement that I felt when I first felt when I came up with the idea and explained it to backers.
  2. Working out a sensible, achievable plan, and getting my head down and doing it.
  3. Not feeling afraid to reach out to contributors and asking for help. But at the same time only working with people who will understand the need to get the work done and not put their own spin on it.

If you’ve backed something I’ve done with outstanding stretch goals, you should have received an update explaining what I’m doing and will continue to get updates until it’s done. If you haven’t for a particular project its because I’m still working out a plan to get things done and waiting on collaborators to get back to me 🙂


A Quick Update in These Strange Times

Like everyone else its strange times here at D101 HQ at the moment. I went on holiday to the lovely isle of Lanzarote back in mid-march and came back to the UK on lockdown. The schools closed, so I’ve now got the 24/7 company of my children and my wife is now working a six-day week at her hospital, which involves getting data from the Intensive Care Unit where they are treating CONVID 19 patients (!).

Last week I made a concerted effort to get back into D101 work, but I’ve been largely distracted having to look after my family. So its mainly been admin tasks, catching up after the holiday. Good news got some playtesting in for Skyraiders of the Floating realms, and ran Defenders of the Dragon Empire – a Wuxia Kung Fu hack based on Monkey RPG, via online games using Google Hangouts.

OpenQuest 3rd Edition is back on track this week, after being put to one side and possibly abandoned, but I’m envigourated with it once again. Its also eased me back into heads-down writing, with a nice bit of tinkering-fiddling writing blowing up in my face and solidifying into a new finished chapter about how organisations (Religions, Sorcery Societies etc) work in OQ3.

My big task next week is to work out timescales for delivery of games and updating Kickstarter backers.

Overall the virus has been a punch in the gut, but I’m quickly getting up off the floor and getting back into the mighty work that is D101 Games 🙂


Great British Kickstarters

I love Kickstarter. Its a great way of letting fans of small creators help them get over the financial hump of having enough funds to create their dream niche RPG product.  Here’s a selection of British created Kickstarters that I’ve backed in the last year or so. (Links to the KIckstarter pages in the titles).

Liminal. Masterminded by my frequent collaborator Paul Mitchener, this one funded waaaaaaaaaay back in February of 2018, but as well as the main core book for this game of British Folklore set in the modern day it funded a whole line of supplements and sourcebooks (city and racial). Full disclosure I’m writing an adventure book for it.  Close to final release.

The Black Hack Second Edition. I loved the 1st edition of this popular lightweight take on modern D&D through an OSR lens by David Black. The second edition makes it more of a proper self-contained game you can play on its own and considerably tightens up on both presentation and rules.

Troika!  This one has just landed with backers, it could be lazily described as Fighting Fantasy on Acid, but there’s more to it than that.  This is Daniel Sell’s psychedelic fantasy, which distorts and warps expectations at every step. I’m still absorbing its wonder.

The following Kickstarters are current at the time of writing being funded on Kickstarter.

Bite Me!  Who wants a game of Powered By The Apocalypse Werewolves by Becky Annison?  You do? Then get over to Kickstarter now and get your pledge in. Focusing on pack politics and the game promises a focused look at the Werewolf genre.

The City of Great Lunden. This one is the inevitable colossus of that is Midderlands Setting Trilogy by Glynn Seal.   This book details the capital of the Havenlands (which were described in part 2, MIdderlands Expanded)  where the green-hued  Midderlands (which was the first book) is but a region.   Although you don’t need previous volumes to make use of this book, which uses the freely available and readily adaptable Swords and Wizardry ruleset, you can pick them up as part of the campaign add-ons.  The whole Midderlands setting brings back nostalgic memories of the 80s while being their own thing. It’s evident from the previews on the Kickstarter page it’s carrying on the fine tradition of such settings as Pelinore (of Imagine UK magazine) and Middenheim City of White Wolf (for WFRPG 1st ed).

Honourable mention, because it’s a card game, goes to Bang and Tang, Jon Hodgson’s and son’s Rory and Ben’s sequel to their totally charming Forest Dragon card game.  This one recently delivered on time a high-quality gem of a game. Worth following Jon’s Handiwork Games imprint, since they’ve got some killer RPGs coming up.

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 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, so I can get a softcover copy for proof. These days I favour 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 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‘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 🙂