I started 2013 off with a bang – with a reissued version of 2010’s Wordplay The Big Five (D101- 009). The new format, 6 inches by 9 inches (US Trade paperback?) which was so much better for indie-style RPGs, of which Wordplay was definitely one of. Improved layout and art within, and Jon Hodgson added a background to his cover, which I love to this day (and it’s down to be reused for a project that reuses the Infinite War setting early in 2023, which is due to be announced soon). Even though the book was ultimately retired a couple of years later, my copy is still something I fondly pull out of my archives and have a flip through.
A very brief post for this one.
The Drowned Lands was a very short sandbox for Wordplay the Big Five (D101-09), written by Paul Mitchener. It was a post-apocalyptic setting based in a near-future where the sea level had raised by fourteen metres, and the weather was constant rain. It was a nice little British Post-Apoc setting, set around Paul’s home city of Southampton, where you discovered the setting and plot through play. Oh, and it had intelligent sentient bipedal Bears 🙂
I pulled it after two months because I wasn’t happy with the art I had thrown together for it. A selection of images from Wikimedia commons which I put through a “Rainy” filter. See the cover below for an example. I got a fuller release when I redid the Big Five as the Worlds of Wordplay.
Currently, it’s passed back to Paul, so it may see the light of day again.
This was a blink and you miss it, in the bumper year of releases in 2010. Basically, a promotional book for Wordplay the Big 5 (D101-09), that had a good chunk of the system. These days I would have done a Quickstart set of rules with an adventure. After a couple of months, I realised it wasn’t driving sales to the Big 5 as I had hoped, so it was quietly pulled. Did however form the template for OpenQuest Basics further down the line in 2014.
This one was one of our big game releases and quite a significant milestone for D101 Games.
Wordplay was Graham Spearing’s D6 Dicepool narrative game that he wrote under a creative common’s license. My original publication plan was to do a standalone Fantasy game using rules and the Empire of Gatan setting from OpenQuest for D101. As well as contributing a setting or Theme, called Infinite War, to Graham’s big release of Wordplay, alongside three other themes. Mark Galeotti’s Cold Crusade (mythological superheroes), Charles Green’s Keep Portland Weird (Urban Fantasy) and Graham’s Epic Fantasy theme. For various reasons, Graham’s release of the core rulebook fell through, and Wordplay, the Big Five, was my release of the core rules + the themes as they were in 2010.
Here’s the content’s page
Everything was pulled together at breakneck speed, as was typical of D101 early releases, still keeping to a fast and furious Punk Rock ethic of Do it! The artists of Hearts in Glorantha came through big time. Peter Town and Ilkka Leskelä stand out especially as heroes who opened up extensive portfolios of illustrations that nicely illustrated a narrative game. Ilkka also, some fantastic full pagers, which he allowed me to use again in the recent OpenQuest 3rd Edition. This one especially stands out for me.
The book sold moderately well, making its costs and a little bit of profit, and was critically well accepted. It was also the first big book RPG that I wasn’t the primary author of but instead focused on being a publisher. Which was a good experience in itself and made me more confident later on.
Gather round Ladies, Gentlemen and Wild Things of all ages!
Here is my annual State of D101 Games at the beginning of 2016, address.
2015 in review
As far as putting out books 2015 was a good year for Releases 🙂
- Reunion (River of Heaven, Jan)
- Last Witness ( River of Heaven, March)
- OpenQuest Adventures (OpenQuest, May )
- Hearts in Glorantha Collected (Glorantha, HeroQuest, RQ, May)
- Gloranthan Adventures #2 Red Sun Rising (Glorantha,HeroQuest, May)
- Hunters of Alexandria (Fate/Fortune, November)
- 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.
Kickstarters, we completed the River of Heaven Kickstarter by March with the release of the pdf of The Last Witness, and in March I launched our most successful crowdfunding project ever for Crypt and Things Remastered.
Things for 2016
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” 🙂
We’ve Companion books and further adventures planed for River of Heaven and OpenQuest (see my earlier post for details) .
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.
Happy Year of the Goat!
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.
OpenQuest 2 Indiegogo campaign
Being overly generous it has gone on longer than anticipated, but once the additional stretch goals are done in early 2015 it represents a body of work that I’m very happy with. Two new books were released, Crucible of the Dragons, OpenQuest Basics and two old books were expanded and tidied up (Savage North and Life and Death). I’m currently working on the last two stretch goals OpenQuest Adventures and the Online SRD.
Coming in 2015
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.
Empires of Ys
Dr Mitch’s (Crucible of Dragons, Drowned lands, Age of Arthur) take on OSR D&D from a multi-dimensional point of View.
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 email@example.com.
As well as our local cons of 7 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.
I’ve done 7 out of 8 Furnaces, missed one due to birth of Newtlet #2 did 1-3 as Games Tzar, and its all now so familiar its like a day or two before I turn up a big box of fun with the Furnace logo materialises in the air before me with a big red button on its side marked “Fun”. I press it then I’m pulled into a vortex of last minute printing off, gathering of books, dice and clothes and then off with my designated driver (the sublime Mr Guy Milner) from the wilds of Oldham via the beautiful bleak of the Pennines to the urban hillplex of Hillsborough in Sheffield where the venue The Garrison hotel sits proud on a hill.
Slot 0. A Game of BEEEEEERs!
Arrived in good time for once and after booking in at the Garrison it was time for an evening of chat after food. A feeeeeeew too many beers, but nothing the Gods of Gaming wouldn’t let me get away with (well until I got home and the adrenaline wore off 😉 ).
Mmmmn Breakfast was a bit slow arriving, We sauntered down at 8:15 to find the breakfast room well packed, and the kitchen was struggling to fulfil orders. Good chat with AndrewW and the GowBear as we waited.
Slot 1. The Company: Project Camphor
Fast furious and D100 🙂 This was everything I had hoped for. Kinda Call of Duty the RPG. A fast moving thriller, with twists, that thundered noisily (with stealthy bits) to a satisfying ending.
Big thanks to the players: Barry, Martin, Jemma, Michael, Andy and Tony
Then PIE TIME! courtesy of the annual pilgrimage to Morrisons across the parade ground.
Slot 2. Project Darklight: Take me to the Moon.
Project Darklight is my Wordplay powered Cyberpunk game. It works on three levels. First its a straight forward Punks in the Sprawl game (think Cyberpunk 2020). Then it opens up into a Punks in Space game as the players encounter some of the more out there aspects of the setting (23rd Century with officially no FTL or nano-ware, but it gradually opens up that the Corps are a bit more advanced technologically). Finally it all could go a bit over the top gonzo as the deeper secrets of the setting open up. Take me to the Moon is deliberately a Level 3 PD game, since I wanted to test if the game worked at this concept level, and the players really played along with it swimmingly (although there were some great moments of role-playing the utter shock and disbelief that the characters were feeling as they went ‘further down the rabbit hole’). The ending caught me a bit on the hop. After an hour or so of relentless weirdness I felt a bit like the ending of 2001 where Dave touches the Monolith, but with the players indulgence I managed to pull it back. Thanks to Ravi, Andy, Richard, Keith, Jason and Garry for bringing it all to life so magnificently.
Slot 3. Warriors of the Dragon Empire
This is my ‘hack’ of my own game Monkey: The Journey to the West. When Baz announced that he was going to be running four slots of Dungeon Crawl Classics, I decided to drop my traditional OSR Saturday night game so not to clash. But part of me didn’t want to drop the Dungeon Bashing (I don’t crawl) action and I’ve wanted to use Monkey to power a more straight forward Wuxia Kung Fu heroes game for some time now. So why not combine the two? Hence this ‘hack’. As well as rules for mortal characters Warriors WDE has a more striaghtforward central card mechanic, which I’ll be writting up for Monkey and making avialble for free. Pig Faced demons and Serpent men were fought as the Underworld beneath the 23rd Emperor’s tomb was explored and Bad Monkey was stopped in his nefarious plot to steal forbidden lore. Thanks to Barry, Tony, Martin, Jules, Steve(?) and Another who’s name I’ve forgotten (bad Newt!), for bringing the Kung Fu action and graciously allowing me to finish the game early as I was beginning to flag.
Its official Furnaceers break the Garrison’s breakfast system! Spotted by Elaine on the wall by the kitchen: “Furnace Gamers will all come down all at once 35 at a time!” 😀 Lesson learnt from day before we got the 8 before the rush and delay.
Slot 4. Angry Ducks
I was showing the new lovely OpenQuest 2 full colour hardcover off, so it made sense to run a game of it. I wanted to inject a bit of fun since I know from experience its all getting a bit fuzzy by Sunday Morning. So into the culturally rich milieu of Duck Swamp, with its detailed culture, myths and religions, came the intelligent Ducks of the title (the player characters) pig faced orcs, lost human catapults and other fantastic elements inspired by my four year old son’s obsession with the tablet game Angry Birds. It worked swimmingly. It could have been so badly a crass comedy game (and it did have elements of that), but it also had the grit of old school RQ (streamlined by OQ’s modern approach to that hoary old ruleset) which got me buzzing 🙂
Lunch = MOAR PIE! Thank choo Mr Morrison 🙂
Slot 5 Slack time
After running 4 games back to back time for my traditional lazy Sunday afternoon. Chatted about the state of the industry with Jim from Patriot games, enlightening as usual 😉
Then humped the remaining stock from the D101 Magic stall which popped up on my table between games. The stall had done very well, since I had brought a modest amount of everything (no more than 5 of each item was the rule). Sold about half which is a nice lump sum into the D101 bank account 🙂
Had a fantastic time. Lovely to see all the familiar faces and get to meet some new people 🙂
Big thanks as ever to the committee: Elaine, Graham and Dom.
Here’s to 2014! 🙂
Finally after a disrupted month of family stuff and illnesses, got the final print draft of Worlds of Wordplay off to Lulu for a FINAL print proof. So fingers crossed, later this week/early next for release 🙂 Decided against doing a Kickstarter for this and the rest of upcoming D101 Wordplay releases, an option I had been mulling over.
Briefly if I had done it it would have been Worlds of Wordplay immediately after the KS had ended, followed by the next 3 D101 Wordplay releases as they came out. So that’s Wordplay Fantasy (Dark Corners of the Empire), Wordplay Cyberpunk (Project Darklight) and Wordplay Lovecraft (R’yleh Rises/Book of Madness and Mystery) as full books, with stretch goals being extra content in the form of GMs advice and adventures. The whole campaign would have been billed as the “D101 Wordplay subscription”.
Reasons for not doing it?
- I want the game out, not delayed for another 3 months.
- I’ve just done and OQ2 Indiegogo campaign and I’m quite burnt out by the process. I also sense a certain fatigue amongst you good folks out there in RPGland.
- I want the book/game to grow organically. Go on Wordplay folks pick the book up and preach it to the masses 😉
- By not promising content that hasn’t yet been written, I free myself from the stress of deadlines/expectations and can have fun writing it. Which will lead to better books 🙂
Yeah there are also counter points to the above, but on the whole I feel happier releasing Wordplay in a straight forward way via POD when its done 🙂
Been a week of work and family stuff, but as usual D101 ticks over in the background. Some amazing developments on the OQ2 front, new stuff for C&T in the pipeline and some robust support for Monkey on the way. Not to mention an incoming Worlds of Wordplay, with a new announcement on supporting material…..all for next week 😉 Have a good weekend amigos!
Before I sit down and get my mojo together to finish off the Book of Glorious Joy (which has its final corrections and an index to throw together -SQEEE! 😀 ), its time to quickly reflect on where I’m at with my publishing endevears.
Wordplay. If you pay attendtion to my main news feed/twitter/farcebook page for d101 you would have seen that yesterday after a quick chat with the games’ author Graham Spearing i decided to call it a day on publishing Wordplay.I confessed to him that Wordplay is probably my least priority of all the games I publish and then showed him the great pile of stuff I’ve got planned. He then stepped in as an outside evaluator and pointed out that I should stop doing Wordplay now completely. This means stopping publishing even the stuff I’ve put out. I agreed with him. I’ve had my fun with Wordplay, but my heart has not really been in it since Christmas. In retrospect I should have just printed Wordplay the Big Five as a one off and left it at that. Stopping completely frees up allot of energy, not to mention art assets (WPB5 had a lot of cracking art which I can now build other supplements/games around), but at the moment I feel kinda like I’ve just split up with a major Girlfriend. But its the right decision. I’ve already started looking at what I had planned for Wordplay, Project Darklight (or CyberPlay as Graham was calling it) immediately comes to mind, and working out the best things to do with it.
Worry. I’ve been quietly stressed about D101 for the last couple of months. I’ve got two very large books in production that vampire like are sucking my creative mojo out. The thing is that its been a fun ride doing both The Company & The Book of Glorious Joy. However I’m at the end of both books, and the end of my tether. While I’ve been finishing off these books, there was also the fun and games over whether OpenQuest is still legal, with Mongoose loosing the RuneQuest license. In the end Jeff Richard who sorts out the legal side of RuneQuest on behalf of its owner Greg Stafford told me that Greg said OpenQuest is ok with him 🙂
Wombat. Its been a while since I did a public update about Wombat. I’ve hammered out two alpha versions already and I’m planning a third and final before I go public with it, and plan to do a final alpha before moving quickly onto a Beta. I reckon I’m still on track to the Free version for Furnace (where it will be distributed as a free leaflet) and the extended version “The Little Book of Big Adventure” by early Dec. Once it goes beta I’ll start making more noises about it. Wombat for me kinda takes over from where Wordplay leaves off (which is why Wordplay should leave my hands and go back to Graham). Its a big little thing for me and D101.
Win. HeroQuest is win, Empires Rising is win, OpenQuest wave 2 games , River of Heaven & The Company, Crypts and Things is the win, Wombat is win and Monkey is win (you’ll see how much Monkey is win soon 😉 ). So its not all doom and gloom 😉