Friday, August 23, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 23: SURPRISE

Gi Shatta Gasha! Jabba also says that the Autocratik dice are thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Twenty-Three of #RPGaDAY 2019 is a SURPRISE! This one I'm going to leave to the words of wisdom of my wife, Debs -

"You can sometimes surprise your players, but your players will always surprise you."

And Debs is always surprising when she's gaming. Keeps the GMs on their toes!






Thursday, August 22, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 22: LOST

Mr Frodo, sir... Custom Autocratik dice thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Twenty-Two of #RPGaDAY 2019 is LOST.

Initially, I thought about writing about the TV series. I was obsessed with that series, so much so I even started working out how LOST could be done as an RPG. This was back when I was doing stuff for Eden Studios, and thought a Cinematic Unisystem version of the game would work perfectly.


Of course, it never happened, and then there was that ending of the series which I won't go into... Such a shame. I really loved that series. Got very into it - read Bad Twin, did the online Alternate Reality Games, followed the clues...  Maybe I'll go back to my rewatch. I started a few years ago after managing to get the set on BluRay at a good price, and the opening episodes were still jaw-droppingly great. I loved every moment except that ending.

Anyway, this isn't really talking about RPGs is it? My amazing wife suggested I should write about the fine line between the characters getting lost and the players getting lost - and I must admit I hate that feeling of simply not knowing which direction to go in during a game. Thankfully, we have a great GM who plants lots of adventure seeds, and gives us the freedom to go off on a tangent.

I think I need more practice before I can do that.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 21: VAST

That's a VAST Heroclix figure! Goliath!
Custom Autocratik dice thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
It's Day Twenty-One of #RPGaDAY 2019, and today's word is VAST. I could use this as an excuse to recommend you listen to some VAST (Visual Audio Sensory Theater) - I'd definitely recommend the first album, that features the single Touched, which you may recognise from an episode of Angel.


When it comes to roleplaying games, all I can say is that it is a truly unique gaming experience where the scope of every game is truly VAST. There are so many games out there, beyond Dungeons & Dragons, where you can really experience everything you could imagine. From the wonders and terrors of deep space, to the personal struggles of high-school. From inner demons, to outer demons. Gods, monsters, dragons, down to the most personal dreams. There is no computer game that can come close to the range of stories and adventures you can play in these games.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 19: SCARY & DAY 20: NOBLE

Ardent Zungar - whoever they are. They look a bit cross...
Day Nineteen of #RPGaDAY 2019 was the word SCARY, and I completely failed to write this one up in time. Mostly as I was doing something pretty SCARY and went for a job interview. However, it was (thankfully) nowhere near as scary as I thought it could have been, and far less scary than what I'd originally planned to write for today's entry - which was about Fria Ligan's ALIEN RPG.

I know there was an ALIENS RPG many, many moons ago, but I always wondered why no one had attempted a new version of an RPG in the ALIEN universe. Luckily, it fell into the hands of Fria Ligan, the force behind the awesome Tales from the Loop, and we recently played the introductory adventure you get when you preorder the game.

And it was freakin' tense. We'd stumbled across a ship, adrift for decades, and went aboard hoping to unravel the mystery (and gain some tasty salvage).

Needless to say, no one survived. None of us - alien, infected, human or synthetic. All of us toast. Two whole ship crews went out after three incredibly tense sessions with arms being ripped off, ships piling into each other, and plenty of running down corridors with those flashing yellow lights and the computer alert repeating "WARNING: SELF DESTRUCT ACTIVATED"...

Fab. Looking forward to seeing how it'll work in campaign play as the xenomorphs are TOUGH. I know they are in the movies, but they're one hit killers. Nasty! Also want to see how the stealthy sneaking around rules work that Fria Ligan were talking about on the podcasts.

Awesome stuff.

And that brings me up to today.

Another one of those custom Dr Who Micro Universe figures I made, this time the Donna Noble "Runaway Bride" mini,
custom Autocratik dice made by www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Twenty of #RPGaDAY is the word NOBLE. The only thing I could think of talking about when it comes to nobility was my go-to character class in AD&D, which was Paladins. But as I'm sat here writing this one, I thought maybe this is a good chance to mention Nobilis again. I know, it's a slightly off-centre interpretation for the day's word, but I did want to say how much I love the 2nd Edition of Nobilis.

The cover of 2nd Edition Nobilis - The "Great White Book" as it's known.
It's so pretty, a marvel of graphic design and layout, and one of the first narrative-driven games I've owned. The sad thing (or should that be scary, to tie in with day 19's post) is that I've still never played it.

It is one of the benchmarks of RPG design and production in my opinion, and something I can only aspire to achieve with WILD.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 18: PLENTY

Plenty of Batmans... Batmen... something...
Custom Autocratik dice thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Eighteen of #RPGaDAY 2019, and I had PLENTY of opportunities to write a cool blog post today about something. I had some notes somewhere about how having PLENTY is not a motivating factor in games - it's more the absence of having something that gets people going...

Sure, I had plenty of opportunities, but then BBC1 was showing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and before I knew it, it was over and sleep beckoned. Sorry...

I'm hoping to do better tomorrow, but I know I have a big day ahead on Monday so it may not happen until later...

I'll catch up! Honest!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 17: ONE

Clea, singing - "I can't remember anything, Can't tell if this is true or dream..."
Day Seventeen of #RPGaDAY 2019 is "ONE", and rather than break out into singing Metallica (which I've been known to do on many occasions), I thought I'd briefly take this opportunity to go solo in a different way...

I guess this is a continuation of yesterday's DREAM as well. I've been working on WILD, my RPG of dreamshare technology, for so freakin' long now you wouldn't believe. I've been doing research into dreams, and dreaming... and most of the books on dream interpretation and lucid dreaming advise that one of the first steps is to start keeping a record of your dreams - a dream journal.

I didn't get very far, but recently I've been told about a form of solo RPG where you keep a journal - the game itself is almost guiding you through storytelling, creating a work of fiction inspired by (sometimes random) events or prompts. I have no idea how it works, and I really want to check some of these cool solo RPGs out, and part of me is really intrigued to see if I could make an offshoot solo WILD game merging the solo journalling RPG with dream journalling.

Definitely need to check out some solo RPGs like this. Any good suggestions where to start?

Friday, August 16, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 16: DREAM

There could only be one choice of figure to go on the DREAM space -
Dream, or rather in this case, Daniel, of the Endless.
Custom Autocratik Dice thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Sixteen of #RPGaDAY 2019 and the word is one that resonates closely with me - DREAM. After all, I've spent my spare time off and on for the last eight+ years working on an RPG of Dreamshare technology - WILD.

I've always been fascinated by dreams, and tried early on to incorporate them into my games. I distinctly remember trying to re-play the entire of A Nightmare on Elm St as a Call of Cthulhu adventure... And when I was trying to get into game writing, I was eagerly writing Ghostbusters scenarios and sending manuscripts to West End Games. After Spooky Science (Weird Science with yogurt gods) and Back to Transylvania (time travelling with vampires) I started mashing up John Landis' "Into the Night" with Elm St, but didn't get very far before WEG decided to move on to different game lines. Into the Nightmare was going to be a scenario with the Ghostbusters venturing physically into the dream realms to face dream demons and night terrors.

Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to continue my desire to game in the many worlds of dreams...


Thursday, August 15, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY FIFTEEN: DOOR

Some sort of Hook Horror, with custom Autocratik Dice supplied by www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Fifteen of #RPGaDAY 2019. Blimey, it's catching up with me faster than I can write these things! At least we're nearing the half-way point - it's all downhill from here!

Today's word is DOOR...

Stock photo of guy looking at three doors - just like that VAST record...
I have a sneaky suspicion that some people are going to use this as an excuse to talk about doorways into the hobby, and that's brilliant. The door into our hobby is always open, as it should be.

What I wanted to talk about is how tabletop roleplaying opens doors in the real world. It opens doors to friendships - a lot of the people I used to game with as a teenager I'm still friends with now, but I probably wouldn't have socialised with otherwise. They were in different house groups, and while we all knew each other we may never have become the tight-knit group that we were, and the close friends that we are, without gaming.

Gaming also opened my first door to employment, getting me my first job working as a cartographer for the local county council's nature conservation department. The boss told me later that it was a close thing between me and one other candidate and I got the job as I'd put that I played AD&D on my CV. He said it showed that I could laterally think, problem solve, and work in a team (he hadn't seen the way I played D&D...)

It's a doorway to storytelling, to creative writing, to the best of friendships, to careers, and above all, fun.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 14: GUIDE

Ewoks! Yub Nub!! Cool custom Autocratik dice by www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Fourteen of #RPGaDAY 2019 is the word GUIDE. It could refer to anything! A Guide you've had in one of your adventures, your old copy of the Dungeon Master's Guide... what do you think?

Well, I never had the Dungeon Master's Guide as a kid. It was an unwritten rule in our group (which was really three groups that morphed and merged multiple times) that if you weren't going to run AD&D you didn't need a DMG... in fact, a couple of the DMs even said we weren't allowed to look in them (and I didn't mind - the game was better if we didn't know how many hit points the monsters had, or how they'd put the game together). I didn't really look in a DMG until 3rd edition!

Nope. I ran other games. Never Dungeon Mastered in my life, but I GM'd loads of other games. The"GUIDE" that had the biggest impact on me (and probably got more use than any other book I had) was this...

Zeb's Guide - a massive revision of the Star Frontiers rules
Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space (Volume 1) was a bit of a shock to the system (or rather, to the game system). After years of playing Star Frontiers, along comes this new Guide that changes the game system to add weird colour coded result charts to be more like Marvel Superheroes and the Indiana Jones RPG. It added new species to play, masses upon masses of new tech, and our heroes were quickly suited up in powered armour like Gavin the Walking Battleship... (10pts to those of you who got that reference).

Without the internet, I didn't realise that Star Frontiers fans worldwide were generally unhappy with the changes to the rules. Personally, I loved it. Star Frontiers was my go-to game for most of my teens, and any new material was read until the covers went bendy. I kinda miss my old copy... I wonder if it's aged well?


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 13: MYSTERY


Doctor Strange Heroclix. Cool custom Autocratik dice thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk

Day Thirteen for #RPGaDAY 2019 is "MYSTERY", and that word conjures up one game in particular in my mind - Tales from the Loop. It's all about solving and uncovering mysteries. So much so, the setting for your campaign is called the Mystery Landscape, and like a great episode of Scooby-Doo you discover that strange things are going on in your neighbourhood. Whether this is the original setting of the Swedish Loop, the US version in Boulder, or one designed around your hometown, the kids discover cool robots, time-travel, dinosaurs, odd technology and weird devices that weave together to make an awesome setting for any RPG.

The games we've played of Tales from the Loop have been great - we've done the whole of the campaign from the corebook - and I'm looking forward to continuing our characters (somehow - one was locked up for his violent tendencies, another ran away) in the darker and creepier Things from the Flood. Same setting, but the experiments at the Loop have let "things" into our reality, and it's all going horribly wrong. 

Fantastic. Love it.

I love the game system so much, and its brilliant simplicity, that I started working out how it could be used to play Harry Potter - after all, that's kids and teenagers uncovering mysteries... You can read about it here.

Monday, August 12, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 12: FRIENDSHIP

Red Spartan vs Blue Spartan (HaloClix) - custom Autocratik dice thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Twelve of #RPGaDAY for 2019 is FRIENDSHIP. I've been pondering what to write for this one, and my amazing wife suggested that I talked about character friendship, rather than player friendship. After all, I've mentioned many times on my blog about "The Eight" - the group of friends I used to game with from my school days who have remained the most awesome friends I could imagine to this day.

But there are some friendships that are formed in game between characters that are pretty powerful too. I remember our Mage game when one of the characters was killed, it was a truly devastating moment for the other two players and their characters. While that game has finished, we've found that the friendships formed between the characters can be just as strong - the sense of connection our apprentice Jedi had was almost as close as those Mage characters. And despite any disagreements our characters had during our Aegean game, we'd gladly leap to each other's side when our little village came under threat.

Powerful stuff. You don't get anything like that playing Risk...

Sunday, August 11, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 11: EXAMINE

Examine closely those amazing Autocratik logo dice, thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk 
Day Eleven of #RPGaDAY 2019 asks us to EXAMINE. I'm not entirely sure where this one is going to go, but let's start rambling and see what happens! When I think of EXAMINE when it comes to tabletop roleplaying games, I immediately think of the old "Spot Hidden" Skill from Call of Cthulhu, and how some of the earlier games I played had a real tendency for characters going into a location and rolling dice to see if there was anything hidden there.

Sure, it's a skill. You can search a place and find something. But I have to admit, it was a real eye-opener when someone bought me a copy of Fear Itself, a game that uses the GUMSHOE System designed by Robin Laws. Instead of going into a location and searching for a clue, which you may or may not find depending upon how well you roll - the clues are there and if you say you search for them you find them. It's more what you do with those clues, following them to the culmination of the adventure.

It's kinda like the game theory that you should try to let the players succeed at things as much as possible, and even if they fail, they fail forward. "You didn't manage to do that, but you discovered..." and it pushes the adventure forward. There will still be outright failure, especially in a combat situation, but failure shouldn't prevent the plot from developing in exciting ways.

Clever stuff. All far smarter than me.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 10: FOCUS

Is it ironic that the ship's in focus, but the word at the bottom isn't?
Custom dice with the Autocratik logo on them thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Ten of #RPGaDAY 2019 is FOCUS. I have to say I'd be nowhere without my focus group. Back when I started work on Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (Doctor Who: The Roleplaying Game as it is now) we had a lot of playtesters who helped shape the game to become what it is today (at time of writing). One bit of advice I got while I was trying to work my way through all of the feedback from playtesting has stayed with me ever since - "You can't create anything good by committee." A small group who you trust and can rely upon to have brilliant ideas to feed back, with constructive criticism. I needed to go small.

Since then, and especially while working on WILD, I've had a small core group of trusted individuals who I occasionally bounce ideas off of. They're brilliant at making simple suggestions, pointing me in  a new and unseen direction, and thinking outside of the box.

Back when Doctor Who was in its formative stages, there were three individuals who I credited as "The Heart of the TARDIS" - Robin, Derek and Charles. Thank you! Now, with WILD, the focus group has grown a little to eight (technically ten, but two avoid social media), but without them I'd be stuck, have given up, and totally quit game writing and design, relegating myself to becoming a checkout attendant at a filling station.

I'd just like to thank them for their continued help and support over the many, many years of me working on WILD. Maybe one day it'll see the light of day.

Friday, August 9, 2019

#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 9: CRITICAL

WOTC D&D Mini from the early 2000's
Amazing custom Autocratik dice thanks to www.chimericdesigns.co.uk
Day Nine of #RPGaDAY 2019 is CRITICAL. I'm sure most people out there will recount their most amazing critical hit in a game (I honestly can't think of any, but I do remember the fumble tables from MERP being pretty harsh), or talk about their love of internet webseries phenomenon Critical Role.

There is a danger with today's prompt and that's of being critical of other people's work and of games you don't like or get on with. And that's not what #RPGaDAY is about - it's about positivity and being encouraging. Spreading the word of how great RPGs are and their benefits.

I'm going to be CRITICAL of something - I'm going to be CRITICAL of today's word, and criticise myself for putting this one in there. In my head I was hoping people would go the Critical hit / or Critical Role route, but I know it's opened the door to people being critical of other things. So I'm going to ask you to do the opposite.

In my introductory video for this year, I suggested if you didn't like a word you should go with the exact opposite, and I'm going with that. The antonym for CRITICAL is COMPLIMENTARY. So I'm going to ask the ten or so people who read this blog to do something for me.

Write your blog, post your pictures, and so on for your #RPGaDAY entry for today as normal, but if you read this blog do me one favour - pay someone a COMPLIMENT. It could be one of your players, your GM, a writer of an RPG you play, an illustrator who did a particularly amazing and inspiring piece in a game, anyone. Just tweet to them that you think the work they do is great if they're not part of your group, or tell them they're awesome if you know them at your game table.

Thanks everyone.

I'd like to pay a compliment to everyone who takes part in #RPGaDAY, and spreads the word of how great our hobby is. I'd also like to particularly thank Anthony Boyd for his immense help again this year, and Will Brooks for his graphic design skills.