Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Pitch Perfect

Front cover of the Duffer Brother's original pitch - Montauk

It is #WorldMentalHealthDay, or #MentalHealthAwarenessDay depending upon which hashtag you're following on the various social media thingies... and I've just finished my last CBT seminar hoping to get me into a routine, sort my behaviour patterns out, and improve my mood.

I've been feeling better since my post at the beginning of September, but I need to keep to my plan to avoid social media. I've found myself slipping again and passing hours just staring at Facebook or Twitter, seeing if something exciting has happened. I do just need to get on with my own stuff.

So, as part of that "do my own thing", I've been thinking about my RPG - WILD, and acknowledging a problem I've had with it since I started working on it so many years ago. It's all about mental health, and motivation.

Very small sketch I did for the initial cover idea
for the corebook of WILD. The covers would fit
together with the supplements, uniting the middle image.
The problem is, I'm doing WILD for me. There are no publishers involved. No deadlines, no one to disappoint but myself. And, due to that, it has taken forever to get anything done with it. I'm so good at talking myself out of it, saying "No one's going to want to play it", "You can't afford to do it, not even with a Kickstarter", "You have no experience in publishing a game," right through to "People find hearing other people's dreams boring, why would they want to play a game of it?"

In the middle of #RPGaDAY2018 I had the revelation. I thought, if I could sell the idea of the game to a publisher, then I'd have the motivation to keep me working on it. If I didn't get it done, then I'd be letting down more than just myself. I'd be letting them down too. And I'm so good at letting people down...

I figured, if I wrote a pitch. A summary of what WILD is, explaining the setting, the basics of the system, how I wanted the game to be presented, and a sample of what I'd written, I could put it together in a document I could give to potential partners and see if they'd be interested.

After all, the Duffer Brothers produced this awesome little 20-page booklet called Montauk (the original name for the series) when they were pitching Stranger Things to various TV companies. Using aged photos from films and series that inspired them, they wrote a basic summary of what they hoped to produce, and it must have worked...

Example spread from the Montauk pitch by the Duffer Brothers, pitching the TV series that would
become the awesome Stranger Things.

A good friend of mine and ex-dayjob work colleague, Alrissa, for her final project for her degree produced a children's book. She had a few printed, only three or four if I remember correctly, but the wonders of digital printing means that you can do a very small print run as a sample and hopefully get people interested. After doing some research, and finding what can be done and for what price, I'm sure this is cool idea.

So that's what I've been doing with my time. I've been working on a pitch for WILD to show to potential game companies that have partnered with people for Kickstarters in the past. There's no commitment from them, but if they say they're interested and would do the game with me, I have the added motivation to actually get the darn thing finished.

Sample layout of a potential Harry Potter RPG, text by me, layout by Will Brooks
Of course, seeing how cheap you can print a decent sized hardcover book as an example has me thinking that this would be the ideal way of pitching for Harry Potter or James Bond. Just do as we did with Doctor Who (produce an example of what we have in mind) and show off just what we can do...

The original printed pitch given to the BBC for the Doctor Who RPG.
Very, very few of these exist. 

There I go, letting my thoughts get away with me again...

Until next time, look after yourself and each other.




Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Wizarding World of Roleplaying

Debs and I, about fourth in the queue at the first Fantastic Beasts fan event 2016 in London
(Yes, J K Rowling was there. No she didn't hear us screaming)
Yes. I have a problem. I'm a little obsessed.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I need to write the Official Harry Potter tabletop roleplaying game. Not some "numbers filed off" unofficial one. I need to write an official, licensed RPG set within J K Rowling's Wizarding World.

The frustration that there isn't one, and that I'm not involved, ebbs and flows but it is times like yesterday when the leaked footage of an awesome looking video-game RPG within the Wizarding World hit the internet, that I start screaming at my computer.

First of all, about that video game footage. It looks amazing. I'm so glad I wasn't part of their focus group as I would have been leaping about the room, making noises like a Fwooper. It's a great studio behind it if the rumours are true (Avalanche who did Disney Infinity), and the game looks stunning.

Like Portkey Games and their Hogwarts Mystery game, they've been sensible and set the rumoured RPG in another time period to avoid clashing with the events of Harry Potter (and Fantastic Beasts). And like Portkey's Hogwarts Mystery it tells a new story within the Wizarding World, with new characters visiting familiar locations.

My character tutoring Lumos in Hogwarts Mystery - so long ago... I'm a fourth year now...

So the question is, if this fantastic video game, as well as Portkey's Hogwarts Mystery, can tell new stories at Hogwarts (and in the Wizarding World in general) that are not necessarily considered canon, why is a tabletop roleplaying game any different?

I'd just love some answers.

If it's fear of players creating their own stories and adventures within the Wizarding World, in the games they play and create sitting around a table, it's not like it's that far from fan-fiction. It's not making money and it's certainly not considered canon to the universe.

If it's worry about the potential publisher creating new stories and adventures, I'm sure that any adventure idea would be vetted by Warner Brothers, and is it that different from creating the narrative of the video games currently published or in development? When Portkey first announced their games there was a section in their FAQ's that said J K Rowling would be approving everything - a line that was removed a few months later making it seem like the developers have been given a little more free rein.

Is it just about the money? While a Harry Potter tabletop RPG would be huge in the games world, the tabletop games industry makes a fraction of the money that a video games company would.

I've addressed in earlier posts the many benefits of tabletop gaming and how a Harry Potter RPG would get kids (and adults) interacting sociably in a face-to-face environment, fuelling their imaginations, getting them thinking on their feet, problem solving, and creating. You can see the lengthier post here: http://autocratik.blogspot.com/2017/11/harry-potter-adventures-in-wizarding.html

Pitch layout for a potential Harry Potter RPG - layout by Will Brooks

That same post also details my first attempt at pitching to Warner Bros with the support of a major game company, and how it didn't get very far. I have to wonder if the thing that stopping a Harry Potter RPG is not speaking to the right people? Or getting through to them in the first place? When we pitched (successfully) to the BBC for the Doctor Who RPG, I learned that a factor in other companies' attempts at the license may be purely down to them not getting through to the right person with their proposal.

So my big questions are...

Why is there no Harry Potter / Wizarding World tabletop roleplaying game?

If it's purely financial, I can understand that - I'll just have to hope either to gain the backing of a successful and fluid publisher, or hope for a lottery win. Of course, if a publisher is already working towards a Potterverse game, please let me know!

If it's about creative control, then why can video games companies do all of the things that seem to hold a tabletop game back.

One day I'll corner the Warner execs in a room with J K Rowling, and I'll give them the Powerpoint presentation of a lifetime...

Until then, I'll just have to play with my hack of Tales from the Loop...




Saturday, September 1, 2018

More Time Out From the World

Promotional image for a graphic novel "Feel Better Now" by Jonathan Hickman (c)IMAGE Comics
Now that #RPGaDAY is over (once again, thank you all for taking part) I'm going to address something that needs sorting. I really have a bit of a problem. I have no attention span, I can't concentrate on anything, and before you say anything - yes, I've been to get medical help. It's coming.

However, it's obvious to me that I have a major contributing factor to my mental wellbeing, and that's social media. I spend a hell of a lot of time on social media. I'm checking Facebook and Twitter every hour at least, and it's really not good for me. Reading one bad post can have me mentally spiralling and I spend most of my time worrying about crap that really doesn't affect me or have anything to do with me.

For example, here's how my brain worked a couple of weeks ago when the fantastic news was announced of a new Dune RPG from Modiphius in association with Gale Force Nine. It started as "Holy crap, someone's got the Dune license!", through to "God, I'd love to work on Dune. Dune is one of my favourite books, and I'm obsessed with the David Lynch movie." It quickly progressed to, "I should drop Modiphius a line," to "But I dropped out of working on Star Trek. They probably hate me for letting them down. I was their line developer and I walked away." By the end of the night, I was convinced that nothing I wrote was any good, that I could never do Dune justice, let alone any other licensed property I could ever hope to work on. That no gaming company would ever want to work with me again. That I should just give up game writing, and just stick to my day job in retail. That I'm fifty and I work in a shop. I'm going to be trapped there forever. I'll retire and all I'll have to say is that I worked in retail. I'm too old to get a new job, no one will hire me.

All that, from some good news in the gaming world. Imagine what my head does when the news is less than positive.

Right in the middle of a mass social media initiative to spread some positivity about gaming I realised I needed to take a break from social media.

Typical.

So. Starting today. 1st of September 2018, I'm getting the hell off of social media. I'm not deleting my accounts - so you can still "@" me on Twitter, or message me on Facebook messenger. I'll check them first thing in the morning, see if there's any news I need to know, but that's it. I'm not going to look again until the following morning or if I get directly contacted. Heck, you can always email me if you need to get in touch. Especially if you're a publisher who suddenly acquires the rights for a Harry Potter RPG or a James Bond RPG...

Yes, I'm available for writing gigs. Please don't be put off...

I'm still going to write blog posts - there is something therapeutic about it. And I've an idea for a series of posts about Tarot that'll get me back into WILD writing. I'll still post links to these blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, but that's about it for a while.

I'm hoping that this extra time, away from staring at the computer screen, will mean I'll be more productive, and my concentration will return.

I'm down, but I'm certainly not out.

I'll feel better, soon.

Thank you for listening.



Friday, August 31, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 31: Share why you take part in #RPGaDAY?


It's the thirty-first. The final day of #RPGaDAY2018 and today's question - the final question of this year's #RPGaDAY initiative - has again been supplied by M L Straus (The OG GM Adventures Youtube channel can be found here! Check it out, and subscribe!).

The final question asks us to share why you take part in #RPGaDAY.

A great question, and I'm really looking forward to the answers. I've made it plain why I started #RPGaDAY in my many videos and blog posts, so I'm not going to answer this one. Instead, as it's the last day of #RPGaDAY for this year, I'm going to thank all of you for taking part.

This year has been huge. We've gone from a few hundred people taking part, to the Facebook page alone getting thousands of views a week, and that's without considering those taking part purely on Twitter, or G+, etc. Thank you everyone for joining in, and spreading the positive message of our hobby. One thing I have noticed this year (I don't know if this is just me not hunting it out) but there certainly seems to be far less of a negative reaction to #RPGaDAY than in previous years. Hopefully, it's doing what we'd hoped and keeping things positive.

A few things I'd like to say before this year's #RPGaDAY comes to an end.

If you get the chance, if you haven't already, head over to the Facebook page and click "like". You won't be spammed with loads of messages - it's very quiet on there most of the year, and there are only a handful of extra posts short of the one per day during August. But it'd be great to see you on there.

I'd also like to thank Anthony Boyd and Will Brooks. Without them, there would be no #RPGaDAY. Anthony helped run #RPGaDAY in the couple of years that I didn't feel up to organising it, and this year his help has been invaluable. I really couldn't have done any of this without him. Will is a complete legend of graphic design and illustration - working most of the time on the covers for Titan Comics' Doctor Who range. I've known him for many years, and his eye catching graphic is iconic and helps distinguish the #RPGaDAY posts every year.

Thank you both.

Next year? Who knows? Keep checking the Facebook page, and I hope you keep reading my blogposts (there will be another one tomorrow... just when you thought you'd had enough of me!)

Until then, until next year... thank you again.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 30: Share something you learned about playing your character


Day thirty of #RPGaDAY2018 asks us to share something you learned about playing your character.

Another tricky one. I spent a lot of my youth being the GM, so I didn't really have a specific character. My longest running character from back then was actually someone else's who gave up playing their 8th level Paladin, just as a new player joined their group - me!

More recently, I've played a lot of FFG's Star Wars, and we've played the main campaign of Tales from the Loop. The Star Wars game was a bit of a revelation to me. Especially playing in Star Wars - where you assume the majority of the game is going to be fighting. My character, Qedra, was a Zabrak who was Dark Side, but had joined the Jedi Academy to control his darker feelings and do good. Teamed up with a couple of Jedi apprentices, we had our fair share of fights and battles - especially after Order 66 and we had to go on the run, and into hiding, before joining the beginnings of the Rebellion. But, after a few over violent moments, I discovered as my character was becoming more Light Side, I was becoming more and more reluctant, and slightly repulsed, by my killing everything in sight.

While I was a double lightsaber wielding powerhouse who could kill four stormtroopers in a turn, I started becoming more and more pacifist. The killing was becoming too much for my character, and me as a player. I was aiming to disarm, remove the threat, but reluctant to simply kill the villains off. It may have something to say about me, rather than the character.

It'll be interesting to see how it goes with the new Star Wars game we've just started, as I'm playing a kid, who (along with a host of bizarre characters) has survived their ship crashing on a remote planet. Playing a lone character who has no attachment to the others, who just wants to survive and escape - to hide from the Empire - one so desperate to do anything to remain alive and hidden, is going to be a challenge.

Until tomorrow, may the Force be with you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 29: Share a friendship you have because of RPGs


On the final stretch now! Day twenty-nine of #RPGaDAY2019 asks us to share a friendship you have because of RPGs. That's one of the great things about tabletop gaming, that it's not (normally) a solo affair, and the players we game with can become some of the closest friends we have.

There are so many I could list. Most of the people I know on social media are gamers, but the best of my friends have been from my old pre-internet days of gaming. I had a few friends at school, but when one introduced me to tabletop gaming, and my first game of Traveller with some of his friends, my circle of friends grew. We'd game two or three nights a week, and most weekends.

The core of "The Eight", l-r Bragi, JR, Me, Mole, Pete, Coop, Fordy, and at the front Milo
(Not pictured - John)
(Photo, early 90s)

We were "The Eight" as we called ourselves, though at times our number was more. When some of the group moved away for University, we returned to playing during vacations, and always kept in touch. Now, thirty-five years or more later, we're still in contact. Always there if one of us is in need.

So, thank you guys. I don't think I'd have lasted this far without you.

Until tomorrow, everyone stay multi-classy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 28: Share whose inspiring gaming excellence you're grateful for


Day twenty-eight of #RPGaDAY2018 is another remixed question. Taking the original question from 11th August 2016 of "Which gamer most affected the way you play?" has been remixed to become "Share whose inspiring gaming excellence you're grateful for?"

Wow, that's a big question.

So many people I'm grateful for, but the term "gaming excellence" is a tricky element. I guess once again it'll have to be down to my current gaming group - Stoo, Edge and Debs. Gaming with them opened up a whole world to me - a world of gaming where the point was not to power game, or to simply "win", but to tell a cool story, develop some amazing characters, and experience gripping and sometimes hilarious scenes.

I'm especially grateful for Debs' involvement in any game I write, as she hates learning rules - she's a great judge of when a game is unnecessarily complicated. On top of that, she's just about the only thing that keeps me writing sometimes.

Special mentions should go to the awesome people in addition to this who have helped when I need to brainstorm ideas - Charles, Alix, Cam, Derek, Jason, Jarval and Ellie.

Thank you!

A tricky question today, but I'll be interested to hear what you have to say. Until tomorrow, stay multi-classy!

Monday, August 27, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 27: Share a great stream/actual play


Day twenty-seven of #RPGaDAY2018, and the launch of the final week of #RPGaDAY for this year. It also sees the start of "SHARE" week, and a prompt that is a remix of a question first posed 8th August 2015 which was "Favourite appearance of RPGs in the media". I know this is going to sound odd, but strangely this was a question I remixed myself, taking that question and bringing it up to date with the current trend of Twitch streaming and actual play podcasts, to ask "Share a great stream / actual play".

On other days, I've posed questions in a little interview with those who have remixed the questions for #RPGaDAY. It's a bit odd asking myself these questions, but hell... why not? But rather than have you sit through all that, I'll post it at the end of this.

My answer to that question? Well, I've only really watched a handful of actual plays - I remember the awesome Titansgrave that Wil Wheaton hosted on Geek and Sundry.


It was amazing, and I'm sure I've mentioned in the past that I was asked to write an episode's adventure and I was incredibly stupid and managed to talk myself and them out of my doing it... So, so stupid...

I've been lucky that two games I've worked on, one of which I designed, became really successful Twitch streams -

The first was Eric's TBD RPG on Geek and Sundry.


Hosted by the awesome Eric C Campbell, with an amazing group of players, Eric's TBD RPG was a long running game of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space by Cubicle 7, a game I wrote and designed! Awesome. I was so excited when they announced they were going to be doing this. The stream was massive, and spread the word of the game even further. Brilliant!

The Doctor Who stream finished a couple of years ago, to be replaced by Shield of Tomorrow - Eric hosting a new stream of Star Trek Adventures - a game I was (briefly) line developer and writer on! Mind blown!


Of course, my mind was blown even further when Eric decided to run a Doctor Who / Shield of Tomorrow cross-over.

And I really should mention Critical Role as well. Suddenly D&D is cool again.

--

Okay, here's that weird interview with myself (as promised)...

1) Would you like to introduce yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

I'm David F. Chapman, and use the twitter handle of Autocratik, also the name of my publishing enterprises. By day I work in retail to pay the bills, but by night I'm a game designer and writer. I've written for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Terra Primate, Ghosts of Albion, and Army of Darkness, before becoming Line Developer on Eden Studios' Conspiracy X 2.0 line. 
I was lead writer and designer of Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space (now just Doctor Who The Roleplaying Game) published by Cubicle 7, which was everything from the nerve-wracking pitch to the BBC through designing the system to publication. A great and exhilarating experience.
Since then, I was briefly line developer and lead writer for Star Trek Adventures for Modiphius Entertainment, and recently completed a hilarious ghost-breaking parody adventure setting for WOIN

2) How did you first get into tabletop roleplaying?

I used to hang around a small group of friends in school, playing video games. I went over to one of their houses one day planning on playing on their ZX Spectrum only to be told - "C'mon, we're going over to JR's and we're going to play something else". I followed, and was exposed to my first game of Traveller. After that, I was hooked. We played two or three nights per week, and most weekends. Ah, the 80s... We were like those kids in Stranger Things only there were more of us, and we drank more tea.

3) What inspired you to take the leap from being a player/GM to what you do now?

Ghostbusters. The Ghostbusters RPG from West End Games was my eye opening experience of "Wow, this is fun to read - I bet it was fun to write"... If someone could get paid to write and have fun writing these games, I wanted in. I wrote a couple of adventures for Ghostbusters in the late 80s on a typewriter, photocopied them, and posted them to New York to West End Games. While they were unsuitable and were never used, the feedback from WEG was incredibly encouraging and I tried to keep the dream alive.

My first writing gig was with Eden Studios. They wanted proof I could write first, so I wrote a complete supplement for All Flesh Must Be Eaten called "Summercamp Stalkers and Unstoppable Evil". Never got published, but off the back of that they started giving me work to do. I ghost edited things, assistant edited others, and generally tried to help as much as possible. It kinda escalated from there....

4) What makes a game instantly appealing for you?

The setting first, then the ease of play. If it's simple to play but does everything I need then I'm sold. If I scratch my head in confusion at the rules, or have to keep flicking from rule to rule, I start losing interest pretty quickly. I just don't have the dedication or patience that I used to have in my youth.

5) What is your favourite game of all time, and why?

Really had question. Why did you have to ask that? It'd be a four-way tie between WEG's Ghostbusters RPG - because it's fun, simple and perfectly captures the spirit (pardon the pun) of the movies; WEG's Star Wars RPG - because it was quick, simple, fun, and it was Star Wars just at a time in my life when Star Wars was the be-all-end-all of my universe; Victory Games' James Bond RPG - while it was a little more complex, it perfectly replicated the world of Bond, and the adventures and supplements are a work of genius. Beautiful game... and finally, Eden Studios' Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. CJ Carella managed to capture the wit and pop-culture hip-ness off the series with a game system that emulated the way the series worked. Fantastic. 

6) What are you working on at the moment, and where can we find it?

Last thing I did was Ghostbreakers - The Spirit of Manhattan for WOIN. It should be getting Kickstarted in the very near future. Imagine a popular (and influential on me) movie series and then I tried to fix all of the issues I had with it, while creating something new and different. It's funny, weird, scary and I got way too carried away working on it. 

7) What do you have planned for the future?

I've been working on WILD, my RPG of dreamshare, for about seven years now. Every time I think I have a handle on it, something else pops up and works - Imagine Inception, Suckerpunch, Dreamscape, Reverie, Stitchers, Westworld, Twin Peaks, Stranger Things, The Matrix and Sandman all got together in a blender - you'd have WILD

8) Why do you take part in RPGaDAY?

I wanted to spread some positivity in the gaming community, just at a time when everything seemed so negative, discriminatory, and vile. Our hobby can bring people together and create amazing friendships. I hope RPGaDAY spreads a little of that.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 26: Gaming ambition for the next 12 months


Day twenty-six of #RPGaDAY2018 continues the "12-months" weekender, this time looking to the future rather than the past, asking "Gaming ambition for the next 12 months".

Again, that one's a short and sweet answer. If someone doesn't email me, or call, and say "Hi Dave, we've got the Harry Potter license and think you'd be the ideal person to develop the game", or say, "Hi Dave, we've got the James Bond license and think you'd be great to develop the game" (neither of which are likely to happen, but we can live in hope), then I guess I'm just writing my own thing.

Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. I'm very passionate about WILD, and if nothing else crops up that may actually be a paying gig (because I could do with the income!) I'm hoping to get a sample of WILD produced - complete with illustrations and layout - printed as a POD example, so that I can show it to some publishers and try to tempt them into partnering for a Kickstarter. With the motivation that comes from deadlines, and the prospect of actually making money, I'm sure productivity on WILD will increase dramatically. I'd love to finally see it made.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 25: Game that had an impact on you in the last 12 months


Day twenty-five of #RPGaDAY2018 launches a weekend of "12-month" questions. Starting with "Game that had an impact on you in the last 12 months".


I'm afraid it's a bit of a short and sweet answer for that one, as the game we've played the most in the last 12 months is Tales from the Loop, and one that has really left an impact. The game system is so bloomin' simple. Character creation takes minutes, the game is designed to avoid combat, while giving you a real sense of danger as the kids struggle to face rogue robots, dinosaurs from the past, mind controlled teachers, and more.

Great fun, and a real eye opener to how simple a game system can be and actually work really well.

So impressed I was, that I started adapting it for Harry Potter... 

Friday, August 24, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 24: Which RPG do you think deserves more recognition?


Day twenty-four of #RPGaDAY2018 is another remixed question kindly provided by M L Straus, who hosts the Youtube channel OG GM's Adventures. There's a link there that'll take you to his answers to the interview questions I asked those who supplied prompts for this year's #RPGaDAY. Be sure to head over and subscribe.

Taking the original question "Favourite Game System" from way back on the 18th August 2014, the question has been remixed to become "Which RPG do you think deserves more recognition?"

This can be interpreted a few ways - is it a specific game that you love but you don't think gets much attention, or possibly a system that really ticks all your boxes that you want to shout about? Or an old game that should be recognised for changing how gaming works?

So many ways to answer!

Maybe I'll do all three?

Specific game that I love that gets overlooked - that's easy. I love Tales from the Loop, and it's getting a lot of attention at the moment with Twitch streams, and the upcoming Amazon series. But it's easy to forget another great RPG of kids investigating the weird that came out many moons ago - Little Fears, by Jason L Blair.

Little Fears 1st Edition 
It's a really cool and simple system, using D6s like Tales from the Loop, where the players are all children battling the weird. Unlike Tales from the Loop, Little Fears isn't about technology or robots, it's about real supernatural horror. Nasty horrors from Closetland. The kids fight back through friendship, and belief in themselves and more.

Little Fears - Nightmare Edition
The game got a complete revamp in 2009 with the Nightmare Edition, changing some of the background of the threats and giving it a new system, but at its heart is the same great game with brilliantly executed character creation, real tension, and a brilliant and improved feel that makes it almost like playing a game of Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Great stuff.


A particular system that I want to shout about? While I haven't played it, I did pick up Psychosis: Ship of Fools, simply because it uses a deck of Tarot cards as the main game system. It's an interesting premise, and I think one that heavily influenced Alas Vegas, where the characters all wake unaware of who they are, and in weird, seemingly unconnected locations.

You split the tarot deck into minor and major arcana, with the minor arcana being used for task resolution (each suit represents a sort of ability or type of action) while the major arcana are used for cool effects.

Nice!

And that leads nicely on to the old game that I don't think gets enough recognition, as it's by the same publisher - Chameleon Eclectic. That would be The Babylon Project. While the game wasn't as huge as it could have been for an RPG based on the cool TV series Babylon 5, it did have a particularly great character creation system that has been a great influence on me. Rather than the roll or pick some values, and add skills and stuff, the Babylon Project was all about creating a background for the character first.

You create each stage of the character's life, and as you go you pull out elements of their background that would be used to inspire which skills and abilities the character needs scores in.

Great to see character creation done that way around - something I'm hoping to do with WILD, especially as the character's background is going to be vital in that game.

There we go. That's the end of "Which week"... until tomorrow, stay multi-classy!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 23: Which game do you hope to play again?


Day twenty-three of #RPGaDAY2018 asks "which game do you hope to play again?"

So many games! So, so many!

We've just finished playing an epic game of Tales from the Loop, running through the "Four Seasons of Mad Science" that is in the core rulebook, and that was a complete blast. Really enjoyed playing that, and look forward to playing Tales from the Loop again sometime in the future.

I guess I could dial it right back on the way-back machine and think of the old games that I used to love and haven't revisited. I mean, I'd love to play WitchCraft again, but I'd be tempted to run it with cinematic Unisystem instead of the full "classic" Unisystem. I kinda miss playing urban fantasy horror. The Mage/Kult/WitchCraft game that we played over many years was awesome.

Further back, I'd love to play James Bond again, just to see if it is still as much fun as I remember. Still one of the biggest influences on me, along with the Ghostbusters RPG. I still have the complete set of the Bond RPG (minus the mini-games and the Assault desktop battles game) and it's still a gorgeous work. I started thinking about merging the system with Vortex a while ago... maybe I'll give it another tinker sometime.

I did have a weird desire to reread Star Frontiers, going way back to my start of gaming back in the early 80's. I wonder how that holds up after all these years?

There we go, what do you hope to play again?

Until tomorrow's question, stay multi-classy!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 22: Which non-dice system appeals to you?


Day twenty-two of #RPGaDAY2018 is a companion to yesterday's question about appealing dice mechanics - this time asking which Non-Dice System appeals to you?

Continuing from yesterday's post about how using more than one die gives you a lovely probability curve, when it came to starting to work on WILD I thought I was going to use dice in a pretty similar way. I considered loads of different options, bought loads of blank dice so I could experiment. But then I had that weird idea of using Tarot to add a random element to dreamscapes - drawing a card when you lose control over a dream and taking some inspiration for what happens from the image on the card.

But for task resolution I was still thinking DICE. After all, I'd come up with the perfect name for the system - Rapid DIE Movement. Ha!

Then I realised I was wasting my time - cards can be used for task resolution as well!

Prototypes for the suit of Focus - very rough and need completely redoing...
Not only do you have a basic card draw with a value of 1-10 for the basic pip cards in a deck which can be used for the same as a single D10 roll, but you also have Court cards and the Major Arcana which can have special significance. I've used them in WILD to balance the distribution of the "roll" to create a probability curve.

Add into that simple bonuses from drawing a suit that matches the task, or a court card that does the same, and you've already got a heap of cool effects you can add to the "roll".

And then, there's the imagery on the card, as well as the orientation of the cards as well (dignified or ill-dignified - that is the right way up, or upside-down). You quickly gain the ability to have a variety of additional "yes, but, no, and" like the Vortex system I was talking about yesterday.

Well, we'll see if it works. Need to finish it first!!

Okay, until tomorrow - stay multi-classy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 21: Which dice mechanic appeals to you?


Day twenty-one of #RPGaDAY2018 is all about dice, dice baby! A question that is a remix of an ancient question from the very first year of #RPGaDAY, back on the 9th August 2014 we asked about your favourite dice. This time, that question has been remixed by M L Straus who hosts a Youtube channel called The OG GM's Adventures.

I fired my usual interview questions over to him and he answered with a video! Fantastic!


Thank you for the remix!

As I mentioned, the question that once was "Favourite Dice" has now become today's question, Which Dice Mechanic Appeals to You?

Cool. Thank you! Don't forget to check out the OG GM's Adventures Youtube channel and click subscribe.

Photo's quite old now, it's very full now...

That's actually pretty tricky. I can't think of any single mechanic that appeals - probably something simple. The simpler the better in my opinion.

That said, I'd never really considered probability curves until I started designing the Vortex System for Doctor Who. It's a weird one, as I was a massive Unisystem fan (and still am) but the range of the roll on a single D10 is the full 1-10, with the probability being equal for each result.

When working on Doctor Who I kinda wanted success to be a little easier, so I had to look at what the average roll would be - using a single die doesn't really give you an average roll does it? I dunno. However, if you take two dice, you immediately get that lovely bell-curve of probability for the result. Nice! It meant things were certainly more predictable for working out the successes and difficulty levels. I'm not saying I got them right, but hey... they seemed to work and people liked it.

Tomorrow's question is about non-dice mechanics, so I'm going to continue this there as WILD doesn't use dice (which is a little frustrating as I had the perfect system name for it). So how do you get a probability curve on a card turn? More tomorrow...

Until then - Stay multi-classy!

Monday, August 20, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 20: Which Game Mechanic Inspires your play the most?


Day twenty of #RPGaDAY2018 sees the start of "WHICH"-week, where all of the prompts start "which"... Today's question was kindly submitted by Ricardo in Brazil - you can find him on twitter as @f5kn, and it's a biggie - "Which game mechanic inspires your play the most?"

Thank you Ricardo! Great question!!

TSR's Indiana Jones RPG with its slide rule to work out how well you'd succeeded or failed. 

For years, especially coming from the old school era of gaming, everything you did with a dice roll was simply "You Succeed" or "You Failed". I think it was either the Indiana Jones RPG by TSR (yes, that legendary game!) or the James Bond RPG that first exposed me to the concept of succeeding/succeeding well/succeeding really well, meaning that your roll produced levels of success.

Since then, I've really appreciated games that added some colour to the results - it means that your game isn't just hit or miss, win or lose, fail or succeed.

For Doctor Who I adopted a cool idea which was to add the "AND" and "BUT" rules, so you could succeed ("and" something extra good happens, or "but" something doesn't go as well as you'd hoped), or failed ("but" something advantageous happens, or "and" it gets even worse than you'd feared).

Star Wars (the FFG one we're currently playing) has a similar thing with its "advantages" and "threats", "triumphs" and "despairs" on those wacky coloured dice.

For WILD, I'm hoping to take it a stage further with simple resolution using a card draw from a Tarot deck, but there's the additional level of description that can be drawn out of the divinatory meaning of the card, or just inspiration from the illustration. At least that's what I'm hoping...


Until tomorrow... stay multi-classy!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 19: What Music Enhances Your Game?


Day 19 of #RPGaDAY2018 is a companion to yesterday's question about inspirational art. Again, supplied by Richard Brewster (check out his cool blog Batjutsu for more about gaming!) this asks about what music enhances your game?

I must admit, I don't really use music during the game any more. We used to a lot as teens, playing D&D and Traveller while listening to Jean-Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield and other weirdness (not forgetting the Pentateuch of the Cosmogany!) We kinda went off listening to music during the game. Mostly as the current game involves some Skype involvement which is tricky with background noise.

If we did have music going, we'd be listening to Simon Stålenhag's soundtrack to Tales from the Loop, or his other electronica. Or the cool soundtracks to Stranger Things. Though as we're just about to return to playing Star Wars, there's only really one set of soundtracks you need for that!

Like yesterday's post though, when it comes to WILD, I have a whole host of music I listen to that inspires me while I write. Most of it is the complete Nine Inch Nails catalogue, to cool weirdness like Poe's Haunted album, Trent Reznor's film scores, and early Thirty Seconds to Mars. I sometimes have it on shuffle so that random tracks from David Lynch's audiobook of Catching the Big Fish pops up in between tracks to remind me about consciousness and creativity.

However, one track always reminds me of that first concept for the game...



Saturday, August 18, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 18: Art that inspires your game.


Day eighteen of #RPGaDAY2018 is the start of a weekend all about art and music, and how they can inspire and enhance your game. Both of the questions this weekend were provided by Richard Brewster, who hosts a great blog called Batjutsu which you should definitely check out!

The first part of this art and music weekend asks for "Art that inspires your game".

Again, there are a couple of answers to this one. If it's the game we've just finished playing, that's easy as it's just a case of checking out the amazing visuals of Simon Stålenhag's fantastic paintings, as we're just finishing up our Tales from the Loop game.

Art (c) Simon Stålenhag - I mean look at it, it's freakin' beautiful and inspiring!
I can see why Fria Ligan decided to use Stålenhag's artwork for a roleplaying game. Every image seems to tell a story and ask questions, with an amazing juxtaposition between 80's tech (see the guy carrying the old computer monitor and the Volvo parked in the drive) and cool, crazy sci-fi.

Awesome.

The other way to answer this question is to look at the art that's inspiring me when I'm working on WILD. I've got one of those wacky Pinterest boards dedicated to things that I see and flag as inspiration for WILD. One of the first inspirations artwork-wise for WILD was looking at the cool art of David Despau.

Art by David Despau
I just always liked the way his artwork is blend of fine line work, with energetic splats and half finished lines. It's simply beautiful.

I really want to keep the splat look in WILD. I don't know if it's because there are the echoes of the Rorschach ink blot tests, or just the energy and dynamism that makes you feel like there's action and excitement in the game.

Promotional image for comic Feel Better Now - art and writing by Jonathan Hickman
That splatty feel, with cool graphics on white, meant that Jonathan Hickman's graphic novels (Nightly News, Pax Romana) appealed, but this image from a graphic novel that has been stewing as long as WILD has, used to be my desktop wallpaper for months while working on WILD. That is just amazing and perfect. I'd love to see the final product one day.

Just as I hope to have WILD finished one day...


Friday, August 17, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 17: Describe the best compliment you've had gaming.


Day seventeen is one of the most positive questions we've had for #RPGaDAY. Taking the original question from 31st August 2016, Fabien (better known as "Fabulous Fab's") from the Youtube Channel AnythingTodayNet changed the original question of "Best advice you were ever given for your game" and asks as part of #RPGaDAY2018 for the "Best compliment you've had gaming".

Great question!

I must admit, I don't think I'm a very good player, and I don't think I'm a very good GM any more. I may have hit my peak GMing in the mid-late 90's, but I don't think I've got it in me any more - not without some practice.

I've had some nice compliments about my writing for the games, though. Getting Best RPG at the UK Games Expo 2010 for Doctor Who, and the Gold ENnie for Best Family Game for the 11th Doctor edition of Doctor Who was awesome, and unexpected. I just hope people enjoy what I've written, have fun playing the games, and I just hope it makes the world a little better in its own way.

I'm looking forward to hearing about the compliments you've received from gaming!

Thanks again everyone for taking part.

Until tomorrow! Stay Multi-classy!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 16: Describe your plans for your next game.


Day sixteen of #RPGaDAY2018 asks "Describe your plans for your next game". I guess I'm lucky to be in a position that this can relate to two different things. One, the game we're planning on playing next as our Tales From The Loop game concluded this week, and the other the game I'm working on.

Actually playing, that'd be Star Wars. We had such a blast with Star Wars (FFG) last time with a two year long campaign that spanned the Clone Wars through to the formation of the Rebellion, that we felt we had to go back to that Galaxy far, far away. From what I can tell our next game is one of survival - a crashed ship on a desolate and uncharted world. I've an idea for my character, doing something a little different from my twin lightsaber swinging Zabrak from before. Really looking forward to it.



As for what I'm working on, I'm still working on WILD. It's been many years, but what started out as a game heavily inspired by Inception, Dreamscape and Elm St, it has evolved to become something huge.

At its core it is still a game about dreamshare technology and the unlimited worlds of dreams, but it now has real world plots, Lynchian elements, secret research programs, investigations and the strange. It is evolving and growing, sometimes faster than I can keep up with.

I've rewritten and redeveloped the core of it many times, and now it really is something I'm starting to feel happy with. And at the beginning of the year I had a moment of revelation of how the books will be structured - the parallels of background, rules and illustrations flowing together in echoing narratives.

I'm hoping to have mocked up the first couple of chapters before the end of the year to show the concept and execution. Maybe I can show it to people, get someone to help with a Kickstarter or something. It'd be the motivation I need to get it completed.

One day...


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 15: Describe a Tricky RPG experience you enjoyed.


Day fifteen of #RPGaDAY2018 is another remixed question. Taking the original question from August 22nd 2017 of "Which RPGs are easiest to run for you?", Christophe who hosts the Youtube channel Pilule Rouge JdR suggested flipping that question around while still keeping it positive - to produce "Which RPGs do you enjoy running even if they are difficult for you?"

Great question, Christophe, and Anthony took that suggestion and opened it wider so it wasn't asking for RPGs, but a particular RPG experience.

So today's question, with many thanks to Christophe, is "Describe a tricky RPG experience that you enjoyed". Please go check out the Pilule Rouge JdR Youtube channel, and subscribe.

-

There are times when the group gets a little carried away - lost in the moment. It's understandable. Our games have shifted from being all about action and violence to being often quite intense games of story and emotion. Sure, we still have our times of hilarity, and we come up with some stupid plots - but a recent game of Tales From The Loop had us all feeling a little uncomfortable as we found ourselves lost in a shared version of our unconscious. We helped the villain of the story - not battling him in combat, but helping him resolve his issues of a violent family. While doing so, we were exposed to elements from our own characters' unconscious - my character had to relive the car crash that killed his mother, another discovered a sister they had that had died at a young age that they'd forgotten about, while the last had to deal with their feelings of being ignored by the rest of their family.

It was pretty intense, emotional and a little unsettling, but it really made me feel like we were telling a great story. The stakes were high, and without such emotional resonance we wouldn't feel as attached to our characters or as engaged in the story we're telling.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 14: Describe a failure that became amazing!


Day fourteen of #RPGaDAY2018 asks us to describe a failure that became amazing. I'm expecting a whole host of epic tales of disaster to be shared today.

Today's question, however, was provided by Richard Brewster, who hosts a great blog Batjutsu that you should really check out! I particularly love the pie-charts!!!

Thank you Richard!

Like the other folk who submitted questions, I sent him some interview questions and he kindly responded with a video that you can see below - have a watch and subscribe!



I guess I'd better answer the question. I know I've already mentioned this, but the most epic failure I've had recently in gaming was the FFG Star Wars game we finished a few months ago. We'd prepared for days on a planet that was a key location to the rebellion's ship repair facilities, knowing that the Empire was soon to arrive. And they did. I had one of those Delta-7 Aethersprite ships and I decided to hang in orbit and take out a few fighters before the ground assault began. I managed to take out a few, and I continued shooting TIEs out of the sky as the main ground forces landed and started their way toward the base.

I rolled really badly, and the TIEs got lucky, blasting my ship into pieces. Luckily, I was in atmosphere, so I popped the cockpit and stood on the nose, using my Force powers to guide its descent - aiming the crashing ship straight at one of their huge, Imperial tanks. At the last minute, I jumped off (boosted by the Force), and landed on another tank - igniting the lightsaber and starting my attack on the troops as they emerged from the top hatch.

So epic, and probably impossible, but it made great Star Wars, and would have been great in an episode of Rebels...

Monday, August 13, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 13: Describe how your play has evolved.


Day thirteen of #RPGaDAY2018 and the start of the DESCRIBE week. The first question of the week is "Describe how your play has evolved".

I think it has evolved quite a lot as I've hopefully matured as a player, and as a person. As a teenager, all we really wanted to do was basically be murder-hobos as they call it. We'd go into dungeons and kill the monsters, take the treasure, get more powerful and do it all over again.

Even in the games I ran, that was basically all we did. I used to run Star Frontiers, and the group went into epic battles against the Sathar empire, powering up in suits like "Gavin the Walking Battleship" from the Travellers comic strip.

Ghostbusters and James Bond really saw the start of things starting to change, especially with Bond - there was a plot and a story... and most of the time the plot advanced whether the players intervened or not. The villains weren't going to wait around to be stopped. They had a schedule and if the players arrived too late, the villains succeeded. This was a hell of a revelation at the time.

After that, I had a break from gaming and it wasn't until I went to University that I got back into it through playing original Vampire: The Masquerade. It was certainly more story-driven than anything I'd played before and we quickly progressed through Mage, to Kult, then to WitchCraft.

Games we've been playing recently like FFG's Star Wars, Tales from the Loop, and so on, have all been very plot focused. We've lost the desire to "power up" our characters, and strive to tell a great story with exciting moments of action rather than just destroy the villains.

Part of me wishes I could go back to the old D&D games and say to myself "you know, this is how it could play..."


Sunday, August 12, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 - DAY 12: WILDest Character Concept


Day twelve of #RPGaDAY2018 is the second half of WILD Weekend, asking "Wildest Character Concept". What is the weirdest character idea you've had for a game?

Most of the characters I've played have been pretty standard. I thought I was a bit radically different when we decided to play Tales from the Loop in its default setting of Sweden, but I deliberately went for an American character who knew very little Swedish...


Weirdest character concept I encountered was for a game of Kult I was GMing. All of the characters were goth-teenagers who hung around the goth clubs in London, getting drunk and messing with arcane forces. So, when a new player decided to create an eight-year-old orphan who'd escaped from a research facility and had psychic powers. I mean, interesting concept, but how a group of sulky, drunk, late teen goths would bring an eight-year-old into their group... a bit tricky. I'm sure we'd have made it work, but alas, the player generated the character and never returned, and the game never really got underway.

Oh well...

Thank you for humouring me for WILD Weekend, as a shameless way of keeping the name alive while I continue to work on WILD - the RPG of dreamshare and weirdness.