Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry."

Me, in my rightful place, in the
Ministry of Magic
Last week I posted about how I've always wanted to write an official Harry Potter Roleplaying Game, and went into some detail about why this is not only a great idea that would be true and respectful to the source material, but also how it would be beneficial to kids and adults alike, getting their imaginations flowing and interacting in a more social way.

This post I thought I'd go into a little more detail about how a Harry Potter roleplaying game could be produced. As I mentioned before, I've tried on a number of occasions to pitch a Harry Potter game to Warner Bros. and J K Rowling. Though I've come close and there were a few tense weeks when I thought something may come of it, it hasn't reached a stage when Warner Bros. would actually see the ideas and how respectful to Rowling's works it would be.

So here in the spirit of Blomkamp, out in the open, for the first time, is the basic pitch. 

Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game

Summary:

Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game aims to allow players of all ages to experience the excitement of being a student at Hogwarts, and to enjoy the endless possible adventures that can await them in the wizarding world.  Players decide upon their student’s actions as they attend class, investigate mysteries and battle dark forces.  Using a quick and intuitive game system it aims to reproduce the feel of the setting, while allowing players to fuel their imaginations and develop their problem solving and social skills.
Early prototype layout for Chapter One
Layout by Will Brooks

The basic game will focus on their first few years at Hogwarts. Game rules are provided to allow players to invent a new student to attend the school, set after the climatic battle of Hogwarts and the defeat of Lord Voldemort. The game then takes them through the experience of shopping in Diagon Alley for supplies, choosing a wand (or rather, having a wand choose them) and embarking on the journey to Hogwarts. Rules will allow the players to be sorted into Houses, attend classes, play Quidditch, and engage in thrilling adventures while sneaking around the school.  A series of introductory adventures will be included, so players will be able to start almost immediately.

The basic game will be followed by periodic supplemental material expanding the information presented, and covering advanced classes, magical creatures, the Ministry of Magic, and more.


Audience:

The huge popularity of Harry Potter means that the game would appeal to the following groups:

Game Players

Obviously, we want game players to pick up the Harry Potter: Adventures in a Magical World Game.  All elements necessary for play will be included.  The plan would be to use our own, simple and innovative system that is simple enough to be easily picked up by new players, which would be able to be used over and over again to create more complex adventures and stories.

Game players who aren't necessarily Harry Potter fans will hopefully be tempted by the game's presentation and innovative game play.

Harry Potter Fans

Harry Potter has captured the imagination of millions of fans worldwide. Most of those fans dream of being able to go to Hogwarts, to fly on a broom and cast spells with their own unique wand. This game would allow them come a little closer to the fantasy, to immerse themselves in the wizarding world and experience the magic of the books and movies.

For the Harry Potter collector, we'd hope to include cool background information, possibly even exclusive content (unseen photos or design artwork, maybe even background similar to the amazing entries on Pottermore) that would entice the completist who may later be tempted to have a go at playing the game.

Readers

There are a number of people who will buy the game because they collect and read this sort of thing, but do not have the opportunity or time to actually play the game.  The game will include interesting information that’ll appeal to gamers and fans of the series alike, and present a handy reference in a lavishly illustrated way that would encourage readers and fans alike.

Above all, the key is going to be accessibility, aiming to appeal to everyone, from 8 to 80 years old!

Tone:
Sample prototype layout for Chapter One
Layout by Will Brooks

The basic game, and all supplements, will strive to capture the feel and ideals of the books.  Above all, it will be accessible, with the basic game acting as a gateway to both gaming as well as Harry Potter’s world in a clear and friendly way.  Sidebars will include interesting facts about the school, creatures and staff, and the history of the wizarding world, which will appeal to Harry Potter fans.

The book’s style will be visually identifiable as Harry Potter, using stills and promotional photography from the movies, and a style that fans will find familiar, presented in a similar format to The Daily Prophet, or the fantastic Page to Screen or Film Wizardry books with their amazing graphic design.  It will be supplemented by quotes from the books, used to emphasise specific elements of the rules or the book's design when it adds a suitable flavour.

The language will reflect the feel of Harry Potter.  It will be capture the humour, the adventure and the optimism of the stories.  It will also be written in “English”, using British spellings of words, rather than the traditional American spellings as seen in most games.

Above all the integrity of the story will be maintained.  The setting is after the events of the books, after the defeat of Voldemort at the battle of Hogwarts in 1998, but before James Sirius Potter attends Hogwarts in 2014-16. This way, while the players will be creating their own adventures and stories at Hogwarts, the events of the books, and any potential sequel, remain out of bounds and untouched. 

The game is designed to encourage children’s imaginations, storytelling, problem solving and to get them interacting in person in social situations, rather than relying on computer games and talking over the internet. And, above all, it is supposed to be fun, exciting and magical.

Harry Potter: Adventures in a Magical World - The Basic Game 

Have you ever wanted to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? To learn to cast magical charms, to brew potions and learn of the wizarding world? Maybe even take part in that most dangerous of wizarding sport – Quidditch? 

Now you can enter Harry Potter’s world, learn the secrets of Hogwarts and defend your fellow students against dark forces. The Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game takes you from your first trip to Diagon Alley to board the Hogwarts Express and enroll in the most prestigious and famous wizarding school in the world. All you need is a pencil and some dice!

Within the box you'll find:

* A Student’s Book, providing a guide to creating a student to attend Hogwarts, as well as the basic rules to get you playing.

* The Headmaster’s Book, with even more options to expand the game, allowing you to do just about anything in the school from attending lessons, learning Quidditch, to sneaking around the castle to investigate rumours of strange goings on, or venturing into the Forbidden Forest.

* Report Cards to keep track of your students’ progress through the school year.

* The complete game rules, simple and easy to use for new players, and able to handle even the most troublesome situation.

* The basic lessons of magic, how it can be used, what must never be used and where you can use it.

* A smattering of magical creatures and beasts that may be encountered during the average school year.

* A guide to creating your own adventures and advice for the Students and Headmaster on how to play them. All of this and more is covered!

* A complete adventure, ready to play, so you can start playing straight away!

Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game
86 page Student’s Book, full colour, paperback
144 page Headmaster’s Book, full colour, paperback
32 page Adventures Book, full colour, paperback
Hogwarts Acceptance Letters
4 page Quick Start Guide, full colour, paperback
Dice
Counters and tokens
Box – full colour, made to look like a vast Hogwarts tome
RRP: £34.99

Breakdown of Contents:

The amazing students' book covers
designed by MinaLima for the
Harry Potter movies. Wouldn't the
game books look awesome like this?
The New Student’s Guide to Hogwarts

Written from the perspective of either a Hogwarts Prefect or possibly the Head of House, this book will introduce all of the rules for the player, as well as offering some advice on how to play and how to get the most out of the game.

The first section will introduce readers setting the tone for the game. It will also provide a summary of what is to follow, and the conventions used (text conventions, sidebars, font indicators, rule descriptions, gender references, measurements and a note about the author(s)).

A very brief summary of the world of Harry Potter is explained for those foolish enough to be unfamiliar with Harry’s adventures or the wizarding world.  

The basic explanation of the game and its elements are introduced here. Using an example of play, the way the game works, how the players create an adventure in their imagination, while using rules to avoid the typical “I got you,”/ “No you didn’t” problems. The basic terms of the game are also covered here. The game requires the Report Cards, Tokens to keep track of things, and dice, all of which are provided in the box.

Each player controls a new student at Hogwarts, going to classes and sneaking off to have adventures and uncovering possible threats to the school. There is a Headmaster, a player who controls the action and knows where the story will develop and controls any extra characters, or enemies the players may face.

The adventures are divided into Chapters, resolved in one or more gaming sessions. Chapters can be linked into a story arc that can last the whole school year, building into to an epic story created purely by the interaction of players.

Students and Report Cards

The bulk of the Student’s book is dedicated to filling in the player’s Report Card, which defines how good they are at doing certain things, and explains what the grading on the Report Card actually mean for playing the game.

The students can come  from all walks of life, and the game allows for this. Whether muggleborn or pureblood, with a knowledge of the wizarding world or coming to it all new – just about anything the player can imagine is possible.

The only limitations are playing inherently evil characters or setting the game during the events of books. Those are forbidden. Harry Potter is all about good overcoming evil, how love can conquer hate. It is about players having a good time and being happy – and while there is danger, and darkness, the players are actively keeping this darkness at bay rather than embracing it. 

The events of the Harry Potter books are set in stone and the game is designed to avoid playing during the events of the return of Voldemort.

School Rules

The other large section in the student’s book covers the full game rules, everything from classes, potions, charms, flying, and all of the drama and action that we’ve come to know and love.

One basic mechanic (roll two dice and add the student’s grade from their Report Card; the higher the total, the better the result is) determines the result of most actions, from noticing a clue to avoiding a Bludger.  This mechanic is only used when the outcome of an action is in doubt and is dramatically important; no rolls are used for eating trifle or walking down a school corridor, unless it is somehow relevant to the Chapter.

Conflict

Most tabletop games are about competing against each other to find a definite winner. However, this game is all about working together. Helping each other through the school year, working as a team to uncover any dark forces that may be threatening the school, and using each other’s differing areas of expertise to win through in the end. Just as Harry, Ron and Hermione were challenged to use their own skills (flying, chess and herbology knowledge) to get through the tests that lead them to Professor Quirrell at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the players will find that cooperation will overcome almost any obstacle.

Actual direct conflict with other people or creatures remains true to the themes of the book. The spells immobilise, disarm or hinder, and never kill. The Unforgivable Curses remain off-limits to the students, and even experienced players who feel they have to use such a Curse will find their student wracked with guilt and nightmares. This doesn’t mean that characters cannot be killed during the game – Hogwarts can be a dangerous place at times, but in these times of peace such an event is rare.

House Points

House Points allow players to temporarily nudge reality in their favour.  If a roll doesn’t go their way, or if they are badly injured, or unable to fathom a way out of the situation they’ve wound up in, House Points can be spent to tweak the game at suitably dramatic moments to the player’s benefit.  House Points are gained by good game playing, making witty lines at apt moments, being brave and making the story dramatic and exciting.  At the end of the school year, the House Points that the students have earned can go towards the House’s totals, in order to win the House Cup.

Learning

The rules section also cover the student’s actual learning – whether this is during classes and being studious, or through their experiences outside of the classroom. The students mature, get better at their work and grow, and as such, their grades may improve. Of course, if they spend all of their time on the Quidditch pitch or being a socialite their studies may suffer and their grades may actually go down!

Advice

Finally, in the student’s book, are a few helpful guides for playing the game and getting the most out of it.

Mastering Headmastering

The Headmaster’s Book repeats most of the information from the student’s book, allowing the Headmaster to have access to the game rules without having to repeatedly borrow the book from the other players. However, the Headmaster’s book also includes additional information, clarification of the rules, and additional advice on how to play the game.

Written as a guidebook supplied to a new school headmaster, the book features additional rules for writing up a student’s Report Card, playing through their first trip to Diagon Alley, purchasing their wand (or rather, having a wand choose them), through to the train journey to Hogwarts. It also details the important process of being sorted into a House, as well as advice for playing a game where the students are all in different Houses. Of course, each House is covered in more detail to give the Headmaster more information for running the game.

Classes

The Headmaster’s Book also goes into more detail with the basic classes as the students learn about Astrology, Herbology, Charms, Potions, flying and the all important Defence Against the Dark Arts. The limitations of magic and the Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration are also covered, so that the Headmaster knows exactly what the students can and cannot do with magic.

Quidditch

A section of the book also covers playing Quidditch, allowing students to take part in the most exciting and dangerous of sports. The rules are quick and cinematic, allowing the actual game of Quidditch to feel fast and action packed, like watching it in the movies. An additional game will be produced to allow a more strategic Quidditch simulation at a later date for those who wish to incorporate it into their school year.

The School and its Surroundings

A brief overview of the school, locations and classrooms, House common rooms, and notable events is covered for the Headmaster to refer to during the game. The surroundings are also covered briefly, including the Black Lake, The Forbidden Forest, the Gamekeeper’s Hut and Hogsmeade. 

The Dark Forces book cover, photographed
at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Designed by MinaLima - An example of how
the book covers could look
An Introduction to Potential Threats to the School

While Voldemort has been defeated, there is still danger and threats to the students as well as the school itself. Woe betide anyone who feels they’re able to wander through the Forbidden Forest without thinking twice, and who knows what may be lurking in the castle’s dungeons? Most of the Death Eaters have gone into hiding or have been rounded up and sent to Azkaban, but there may be one or two plotting in the shadows, looking to gain a fraction of the power that they once had. This section details some of the creatures, Villains and threats that the students could encounter on a particularly bad day at school. 

Adventure!

Finally, the book also gives the Headmaster everything needed to create and run a game.  Advice and
guidelines for the development of Chapters and Terms is also provided, as well as help in creating the overall themes of the story.

The themes of the books – potential, optimism, love conquering darkness, and destiny are all suggested here, and the Headmaster is encouraged to keep the game in the same tone and share these themes.

Acting as Headmaster can be a little daunting, and this section aids the player who has never managed a game before.  Advice includes avoiding “railroading” the players on a predetermined plot, concentrating too much on classes and ignoring the personal dramas that make the story interesting, and getting a feel for how the game is going to ensure everyone has fun.

An Appendix is also included to recommend further reading, provide a glossary of terms and spells, and handy game-play reference.

-

Quick sketch of how the box design
would work, making the box
look like one huge book.
The idea would be to have a basic game that would come in a box, designed to look from the outside like one of the old textbooks from the Hogwarts Library.

To make the box more attractive and more commercial, this would be wrapped in a slip-cover that would partially cover the front with more colourful images of Hogwarts, Harry and so on, and provide information about what is inside.







This cover would be slightly shorter than the box is wide, so the cover can be stored inside the box once opened.





Not only that, the inside of this cover would be filled with useful information for the Gamemaster so the cover could double as the Gamemaster's Screen.




-

So that was the initial pitch. This doesn't include the plans for the supplements, the expanded rules for the later years, and more. Next post, I'll go into some more detail on these, and look at how the game system would work.

I hope you like what you've seen. Please spread the word, you never know, if the right people see it and like it, magic could happen...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Adventures in a World of Magic

If you've been reading the blog, or know me even remotely well, you'll know that I love Harry Potter. My love of Harry Potter has lead me to ask many times "why is there no Harry Potter roleplaying game?" 



My pursuit of Harry Potter as a game has seen me look into the license many, many times, and a couple of times it has seemed like it could happen - talking to Warner Bros. and everything. But alas, it was not to be. 

I'm still convinced that a Harry Potter RPG is a great idea, but I think it has a couple of hurdles to get over - hurdles that could be tackled by getting the right message to the right people. 

The first hurdle is explaining what roleplaying games are - or more importantly, what roleplaying games are now and how amazing they can be.

Roleplaying Games - Using Your Imagination
Envelopes for Harry Potter Book Night 2015
at Waterstones, Norwich.

One of the truly magical things about Harry Potter is that it got kids reading again. Not only were kids reading, they wanted to read. I worked in a bookstore for seven years, and the greatest and most exciting experiences there were Potter book launches - the kids in their hundreds, dressed up for the midnight launch. The first one I worked we even had owls in the shop during the day. The atmosphere on the nights was amazing. 

What a Harry Potter RPG could do on top of getting kids reading, is get kids using their imagination in a truly social environment. So much of our time is spent staring at screens, whether these are TVs, our phones or computers, interacting with people via texts or messages, or even strange disembodied voices from the other side of the country telling us how bad our gaming skills are. 

Tabletop roleplaying games have the advantage of getting people together, face to face, sitting across the table and interacting. 

I've mentioned elsewhere on my blog that I got my first job in the "real world" due to playing Dungeons and Dragons - the boss interviewing me had been a gamer, and knew that it meant that I could communicate, work in a team, formulate courses of action, and (handily enough as it was a cartography job) could draw maps.

Dungeons and Dragons always has this social stigma associated to it - the image of grown men of generous proportions sitting in their basements. 

But going to a gaming convention these days, times have changed. There are far more women gamers (often more than men), and more and more kids playing. Boardgaming has become cool and popular again, and families are getting away from sitting in front of the TV and gathering around the table to play a game on a regular basis.

It's a great time for games, and a great time for roleplaying gaming.

The great thing about tabletop roleplaying is that it really stretches the imagination. Rather than being limited to the options of a videogame, RPGs allow your characters to do anything. You create your own stories, create characters with real depth and meaning, and work as a team together - not competing against each other - but together, creating your own stories and battling evil. 

The first hurdle in getting a Harry Potter RPG to be approved by J K Rowling and Warner Bros. would be to show them that roleplaying isn't what the stereotypes portray - certainly not any more. RPGs can be valuable social experiences that fuel the imagination and are perfect for kids and adults alike.

Creating Your Own Stories

The second great hurdle, and certainly one that I think is one of the tallest hurdles to overcome, is the concept of "creating your own stories", as we mentioned before.

Creating such a detailed and magical world, as is the world of Harry Potter, it's understandable to be protective of it. The events of the books are set in stone, and (despite being able to wander about and do strange things in the video games) you wouldn't want people playing Harry, Ron and Hermione and changing the events of the books.

However, if you set a game outside of the books, after the Battle of Hogwarts, but before the years when Harry and Ginny's children attend, that means the events of the books are held fairly sacred.

But the great thing about tabletop roleplaying games is that the stories you tell in the games, the adventures you play, they are yours and stay at the table. It's not like your stories are suddenly part of the official world. They are purely your own.

West End Games'
Star Wars RPG
A great example of how this works is Star Wars. There have been multiple roleplaying games based upon Star Wars (West End Games' one is my personal favourite, but there have also been ones by Wizards of the Coast, and most recently from Fantasy Flight). They allow you to play characters in the Star Wars universe, scoundrels, rebels, pilots, Jedi and more, throughout the many eras of the Star Wars history... but they never changed the Star Wars movies, they didn't become "canon", and they didn't ruin anything. 

Adventures were published for them, and some have been incredibly successful. But they're not part of the Star Wars universe outside of sitting around your dining room table, and in your imagination. The source material is incredibly safe.

For Harry Potter, other schools of witchcraft and wizardry could be created, making the events and characters at Hogwarts even safer, rather like the nameless schools that appear around the world in the PS3 video game "Book of Spells".

Of course, exclusive content, and fact checking direct from J K Rowling would be the ultimate way to go. It would be similar to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG from Eden Studios. When we were working on the supplements to the game we needed the full names of characters that only had first names in the series (Faith and Kendra). Eden asked Fox, and Fox asked Joss Whedon who provided the surnames for the characters (Lehane and Young, respectively), which have now become official in books and comics since.

Communication to the Ministry

Those, I see, are the biggest hurdles. Once you get over the stigma of roleplaying, and the care required for playing in J K Rowling's world - knowing that the game would be great and positive for kids, and wouldn't harm the world of Harry Potter, it's plain to see that a Harry Potter roleplaying game would be an awesome thing.

How would it be done?

The keys to a great Harry Potter RPG would be twofold - keeping it quick, simple and easy so that the game is fast to play, quick and easy to pick up for new players, and doesn't get bogged down in rules that would slow down what Harry Potter is all about: storytelling. And secondly, creating a game that is true to the feel of Harry Potter's world. 

Over the years, as I mentioned before, I'd planned and plotted a Harry Potter RPG many times in the past. I'd even recruited my awesome graphic design friend Will Brooks to put together samples of possible designs for one of the book's layouts.

First attempt at layout for the Students' Book for Harry Potter: Adventures in a Magical World
(c) David F. Chapman and Will Brooks
The first version was trying to be busy, a little like the amazing Film Wizardry book (which, I have to confess, we own four copies of...). C'mon, seriously... if you haven't looked at that book, it's awesome. The iBook for it is just as amazing, as the images are animated, just like reading a copy of the Daily Prophet.

A clearer approach was taken for a second attempt, swaying away from the movie images. 

Second attempt at layout for Students' Book for Harry Potter: Adventures in a Magical World
(c) David F. Chapman and Will Brooks
Of course, pretty pictures do not give any indication of what the game would be like. I went into great detail with a potential pitch for what the main game would be like, as well as possible supplements.

A pitch that I'll share with you next post.

(to be continued...)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Adventures in Honesty and Imposter Syndromes

I've been keeping a secret for a few months now, one that I can finally share with the world.

How I turned down writing the new Star Wars movie...

No, only kidding. But it comes pretty close.

First, let me confess something - I've never really been much of an adventure writer. When I was an impressionable teen, running Star Frontiers, most of the games were just one continual, ad-libbed mass of combat. Taking the fight to the Sathar Empire, and adding ridiculous ideas from every film or TV series I'd recently seen, whether this is adding T-800 Terminators, or bloody Transformers from the cartoon series. 

Of course, not everything I ran was ad-libbed. James Bond, one of my favourite RPGs of all time, involved playing through the excellent adventures that were provided for the game. But often, the players would go off on tangents and find their own ways of completing the adventure, and the "making it up on the fly" element would come into play again.

The cover for the one of the many
Ghostbusters adventures I started...
When my game group dispersed and went off to universities and so on, I wanted to get into writing RPGs. Strangely, the concept of writing a game was not the first thing to come to mind. Instead, my love of the Ghostbusters RPG lead me to try adventure writing. I've chronicled my attempts elsewhere on this blog, how I wrote a couple of adventures for West End Games (the first about a health food god - Yogurt-Sothoth - taking over New York, the second about using a time travelling Delorean to travel into the past to kill Dracula). The amazing people at WEG were very positive about my writing, but real life got in the way and they remain the only completed adventures I've written.

The second renaissance of RPGs found me at art school, and running World of Darkness in a complicated multi-chronicle crossover game that involved absolutely zero adventure writing. I created the world, and the players just ran across the landscape of vampire/werewolf/mage/wraith infested London, and it was great.

Even on Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, the smart people at Cubicle 7 hired a host of brilliant adventure writers to fill the Adventures books in the core sets, and the final chapters of the new corebooks. I was out of ideas when it came to Doctor Who, having exhausted my "Who-knowledge" making sure the game worked and kept in tone for the series.

So, when a few months ago, a game publisher that I respect and admire contacted me out of the blue to write an adventure to contribute to a larger campaign for a new RPG, I was surprised, flattered, and enthused. 

I try to be as honest as possible in all things, and my response was an immediate "Great! I'd love to... but..." and I confessed that adventure writing was not my forte. Well, it's not. I didn't want to be the one to ruin their campaign, but I said I'd give it a go, but I'd understand if they gave the gig to someone else. After all <imposter syndrome kicks in> I'm not anyone special in the RPG world, I'm just a guy who works in a shop and writes games in his free time that I hope people will like.

They very sensibly gave the gig to someone else, and I was sworn to secrecy about what the gig was, what the game was and how it would be used. 

Of course, that game was announced a few days ago. That game was Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana - the RPG that will feature in Wil Wheaton's Tabletop RPG show.



A webseries that will be the biggest thing to hit RPGs since... I dunno... the introduction of Hero Points. It'll be huge. It'll be a perfect example of roleplaying - the adventure, the fun, the storytelling, the ad lib... everything that we love about the hobby...  And it'll put it out there on the internet to show the world why we do it, why we game, and it'll hopefully inspire a whole new audience to get involved and to try the games for themselves.

It'll be awesome, and I can't wait to see it.

Of course, a part of me is kicking myself for not just lying and saying "sure, I can do it!" - Friends on Facebook were probably confused by my comments a while ago quoting Ghostbusters:


...But I know darn well that adventure writing isn't my thing, and that if I had just faked it, you wouldn't have had amazing tweets from the legendary Wil Wheaton himself like this...

You'd have probably had something like "Well, that didn't make any sense" or "that was a massive plot hole"... Or, "I can't believe this adventure turned out so bad, it's ruined the show for everyone!"

With everything that's been happening with me during the time the adventures were being written it's probably doubly best that I didn't try contributing, I honestly don't think I'd have been able to give it my full attention.

So it was close. I was nearly part of the awesome. Nearly. But thankfully, I didn't screw it up for everyone else. Maybe in the coming months I'll try writing adventures and scenarios, just like I did in the old Ghostbusting days, and when Season Two happens I'll be better equipped to help.

I'd like to thank Chris Pramas and everyone at Green Ronin for even considering me all those months ago. I was both honoured and surprised to even be asked!

Personally, I know that Titansgrave is in excellent hands, and I can't wait to see how the series turns out. It is going to be excellent.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Announcing "FULL OF SECRETS" - Roleplaying in the Mysterious World of TWIN PEAKS

Not Final Cover

Through the darkness of futures past,
The magician longs to see.
One chants out between two worlds...
"Fire... Walk with me"

In the quiet town of Twin Peaks, everyone has a secret. Under the surface lies a world of murder, betrayal, exploitation and obsession. Yet something even more sinister is breaking through, something evil.

In Full of Secrets, players take on the roles of inhabitants in Twin Peaks. From nosey highschool students with secrets of their own, to investigating FBI agents and local law enforcement, everyone has a story to tell, and a story they'd rather remained undiscovered.

Within the pages of the core rulebook you'll find:

* A fast and intuitive game system, allowing characters to uncover the secrets of the town, and face the forces of darkness.

* Details of the town and major locations, and important characters. Set after the final episode of the original series, but before the 2016 revival, players can create their own characters and become involved in the events.

* A unique character creation system, where the character's most prominent attributes and traits are determined by throwing stones at a row of bottles.

* Advice for the Gamemaster for creating their own setting, whole new towns of strangeness and secrets.

344 Pages, full colour, hardcover
Written and Designed by David F. Chapman
Based upon the series Twin Peaks, created by Mark Frost and David Lynch
ETA: Spring 2016

Future supplements include:

* A Guide to Twin Peaks - details of every location in the town, filled with new and interesting NPCs to populate your adventures.

* Bookhouse Boys and One Eyed Jacks Girls - a look at the criminal activity in Twin Peaks, from drug smuggling to prostitution, and those who have made it their work to put a stop to it.

* The Blue Rose - paranormal activity in Twin Peaks, from alien abductions, lost time, and possession through to the Black and White Lodges.


















This, like The Beatles RPG, and The Stephen King's Dark Tower RPG, is (of course) an April Fool's Joke... Sorry. But, like those RPGs before it, I seriously think this is a great idea and I'd love to have a go at writing it.

I was a massive Twin Peaks fan when it first aired. I have a distinct memory of recording every episode on VHS on Tuesday nights when it was shown on BBC2 in the UK. I remember hating Alan Bennett, and his pesky "Talking Heads" programme that used to screen before it - those last ten minutes of his programme while waiting for Twin Peaks to start seemed to drag on forever.

Twin Peaks was one of my great TV obsessions (before that, I have to say it was Moonlighting... and after Peaks there would be the genius of The X-Files). I watched avidly, wanting to be Agent Dale Cooper - possibly the coolest FBI agent on TV, even getting a trenchcoat like his (yes, me wearing something that wasn't black! Such was my dedication).

When I went to college, part of my graphic design course was to produce a graphic instruction for someone so that they could learn something. I saw this brief as an excuse to create the most complicated flowchart in existence, mapping every character from Twin Peaks and their relationship to each other. (I may still have it somewhere in the loft, along with the rest of the coursework).

I watched the TV series, bought the books, saw the movie (though my favourite Lynch movies have to be Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive). I loved every moment of it.

When they announced a new series (hopefully airing next year) I couldn't have been more overwhelmed. I could only have been happier if they'd announced the return of The X-Files... oh, they did!

Twin Peaks would make an awesome RPG setting. But then, a great investigative RPG in a small town is a great way to run a campaign. Think "Under the Dome" or "The Killing", or "Fortitude" (if you want to add an environmental factor into it as well)... Hmmmm...

I even started working out a game system for Twin Peaks, using the same "engine" as WILD, but with its own set of Tarot cards - so instead of "The Dreamer" or "The Architect" you'd have "The Agent", "The Giant", "The Owls" (they're not what they seem)...

Roughs of the Twin Peaks Tarot cards for the game
(yes, I know I missed the Giant's tie...)
The Tarot cards seem like an ideal system for the game, especially using them for character creation (like WILD) which produces an interesting and detailed background story for the characters, as well as establishing some relationships before the game starts. Perfect for that surreal soap-opera feel...

At the moment, the Twin Peaks RPG - Full of Secrets - is just a dream. Who knows, maybe one day...