Monday, October 16, 2017

Licensed to Play

I have a bit of a problem, and I know the cause. 

Like many tabletop gamers of my age, I started playing with the classics - Traveller first, then Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Runequest - before starting to run my own games when I bought Star Frontiers. Y'know, the old school classics.

I really started Traveller (and Star Frontiers) because I loved Star Wars. Of course, neither of these games are Star Wars - especially Traveller - but I needed my science fiction fix. And while I was never a huge fantasy fan in my youth, I loved the games of D&D and Runequest we played.

But along came the licensed games. Games that used similar rules to the classics, but were actually properties that I knew and loved from films and TV. We played FASA Star Trek and Doctor Who, TSR's Indiana Jones, West End Games' works of genius - Star Wars and Ghostbusters. It was in licensed games that I found my real love. Maybe it's my lack of imagination, but I had less trouble mentally visualising a Rodian walking into a dimly lit cantina, or the inside of the TARDIS than I could a Scout/Courier in Traveller, or Castle Greyhawk. 
Cover for a Ghostbusters scenario I wrote
to submit to WEG back in the late 80's.

It's no surprise really that my favourite RPGs of all time are all licensed properties - Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Eden), James Bond (Victory Games), Star Wars (WEG) and Ghostbusters (WEG).

My addiction to licensed games followed me as I ventured into the realms of writing RPGs. My first attempts at writing supplements were submitting scenarios for Ghostbusters to West End Games (though heavily influenced by Back to the Future, Weird Science, and Moonlighting). When I started talking to the lovely people at Eden Studios, who really gave me my break in game writing, it was because I'd picked up Conspiracy X (which, in my head, was as close as I could get to an X-Files RPG), All Flesh Must Be Eaten (which owed a lot to Romero's classic zombie movies) and Witchcraft (whose awesome cover just made me think of The Craft).

Ironically, though I'd submitted some suggestions for supplements for All Flesh Must Be Eaten (one heavily influenced by my love of 80's horror movies, called "Summercamp Stalkers and Unstoppable Evil", and another which was basically Aliens only with zombies), when Eden silenced my nagging it was by letting me work on their Planet of the Apes RPG (in all but name) - Terra Primate.

Then it was a slippery slope. I worked on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG (which was a dream come true knowing my love of Buffy), and Army of Darkness (groovy).

Then after talking to Angus and Dom at Cubicle 7, and Chris (who would later go on to create the publishing juggernaut Modiphius) we started pitching to the BBC to create a new Doctor Who RPG.

Cover for the original pitch to the BBC to produce
the Doctor Who RPG.
I was in my element. Pitching to the BBC, writing a licensed game, making sure it felt like the series. It was licensed gaming at its purest. I was an addict, and I'd found the purest drug. Doctor Who was a blast to work on. An absolute joy. Getting to read the scripts for Matt Smith's first series months before they aired, sitting in BBC Worldwide's offices with a portable hard drive to pick cool images we could use in the books. If I smiled any wider the top of my head would have come off.

Then I got distracted. I wrote and helped film a nerd comedy webseries. I'm still happy with my scriptwriting, and I still think it's funny, but I turned down game writing work for that, which I regret. I should have stayed on target. 

Luckily, I had my own project - WILD. I figured, after feeling a bit scarred by the film-making experience that I'd do whatever the hell I wanted and it would just be me. Autocratik was reborn. Hence the name.

But that drug - the pull of the licensed game - it keeps calling to me.

I managed to get aboard with Modiphius for their amazing and glorious Star Trek Adventures, helping to shape the game - from the skills, to the publishing schedule, to the very name of the game. That was fantastic. But, working seven days a week (dayjob and dreamjob) was exhausting and I had to step back from the control panel.

So, I'm back to writing WILD. And while it fills my urge for an RPG that incorporates many of my favourite things - Inception, Elm St, Twin Peaks, and more - that addiction is still nagging away at the back of my head.

Sample layout for a proposed Licensed to Kill RPG (c)2012
Text by me, layout by Will Brooks
I still really want to do a James Bond RPG. I loved the original game, and can see how it would work modernised and updated to the new movies. In my head I can see the supplements, the game, everything...

Sample layout for a proposed Harry Potter RPG (c)2012
Text by me, layout by Will Brooks
I still really want to do a Harry Potter RPG. I love Harry Potter and I think an RPG would be great - not only for gamers, but for fans of the wizarding world yet to break into gaming. It'd be great for kids, and get them using their imaginations. It could do for tabletop gaming what the original books did for kids book publishing. Well, maybe not. But it would be a heck of a lot of fun. Yes, I've written about it on this blog, many, many times before...

Mock Stranger Things RPG cover -
I mean, it's just begging to be a game
isn't it?

I still think an official Stranger Things RPG would be awesome. Yeah, I know Tales from the Loop is genius and kinda filled that void (though it's more tech than paranormal). It still amazes me that someone hasn't done a game, especially as the series uses Dungeons and Dragons as a main plot element! You could do all sorts of paranormal investigation and uncovering government plots. It'd be great!

Yes, I get twitchy and mock up the covers for RPGs
that don't exist but I wish did...
I still think an RPG of Lev Grossman's The Magicians would be cool. If Potter is impossible, how about the cool and (more adult) take on the magical place of education? Brakebills is just the beginning, with sourcebooks for Hedge Magic, Fillory, etc... It's diverse, cool, edgy, and doesn't take itself too seriously. And you could go really dark, or burst into a musical number. Awesome!

Cover for mocked up Twin Peaks RPG
I did for a bit of fun.
I still think there could be a Twin Peaks RPG. Multi-levelled with a basic game of small town intrigue and murder mystery, before expanding into the weird and surreal Lynchian realms. 

I still think there should be a new Indiana Jones RPG. I loved the original TSR game, and with a new Indy movie coming, the time is right...

Mock up cover for John Dies at the End RPG
Original Artwork by Vincent Chong for the
limited Cemetery Dance edition of the book.

Hell, recently I've even started thinking that the novel series (and movie) John Dies at the End could be an RPG. Cthulhu-like paranormal investigations with more jokes, dimension hopping and weirdness. It'd be like a gross new version of the Ghostbusters RPG with more dick-jokes.

To the many people in the industry I bug, or have bugged in the past - I'm sorry to be such a pain. I hope, one day, to work with you all again. I'm sorry, but I've tasted the purest licensing fix there is, and that hunger to taste that joy again keeps rising in me. I can hope, but sometimes I need to remember not to bug people too much and get on with WILD.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Start of Something New

It can be a little terrifying, big changes in your life, and today marks a big change in our lives. My amazing, talented and wonderful wife, Debs, has gone to her day job at Waterstones for the last time after over sixteen years.
Debs at one of her successful Harry Potter Nights

After working in that bookstore for so long, from its early days as one of the new flagship Ottakar's stores (remember Ottakar's? Those were the days...) to being bought out by HMV and becoming Waterstones, to being sold off by HMV to become its own company again, she's been there.

Working the midnight launches of three Harry Potter novels (and the midnight launch of Cursed Child), dozens upon dozens of author events, and creating amazing displays for the windows, the author signings, and organising all of the Bloomsbury "Harry Potter Book Nights".

Back in the old Ottakar's days, when I used to work alongside her, we both contributed to the company's intranet, as editors and advisors - me looking after science fiction and fantasy, Debs looking after the mind, body and spirit section. A duty that had us working closely with publishers, and was rewarded by our MD with dinner parties and trips to HMS Belfast and the Globe Theatre.

She stuck with it through the change of company, and when Waterstones decided every shop should look the same, through to now when the shops are encouraged to create unique, exciting displays to promote the events.

Handwritten giant parchment poster to advertise Harry Potter Book Night 2016

Amazing display to promote Fantastic Beasts

It has been sixteen years of incredible highs, and dreadful lows, but in a move that surprised both of us, she's leaving. Even though I've suggested that she should leave for years, I never actually thought she'd do it - and I don't think she did either.

Window display for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script book -
a display used (uncredited) by The Bookseller magazine as a cover!

Dementor and discover your Patronus activity for Harry Potter Book Night

Defence Against the Dark Arts display with quiz at Harry Potter Book Night

It is scary, but I've been trying to reassure her during her times of freaking out and asking "what have I done?" by reminding her of the opening of High School Musical - it is "The Start of Something New".

Handmade Sabriel costume and display for Garth Nix event and signing

Ingenious display for Ben Aaronovitch event and signing to promote
The Hanging Tree

What that is, she doesn't entirely know. It could be crafts, putting the skills she's honed in her amazing displays to work.

I hope that part of it will see her polish off the three novels she's written - the first part of three inter-connected trilogies of awesome urban fantasy. Stories that have been buzzing around her head for over twenty years.

She could go back to her amazing skills in graphic design - never have I seen a more pedantic and accurate page layout than when she was working for 64 Solutions magazine.

Debs can do anything she likes. Whatever she chooses, I just want her to be happy.

She still loves books, and is one of the most creative people I've ever known. If I have one request from readers of this blog post, I ask you to both follow Debs' future adventures on Twitter -


And check out her new blog, where she talks about writing, the creative process, and whatever else is in her mind. It's brilliant, and well worth following.

Dead Chapter Graveyard

Thank you. I look forward to seeing what she gets up to!

Monday, September 25, 2017


Back in 2010, there was a moment when I walked out of the cinema after seeing Inception, and I thought - "That would make a great roleplaying game." Seven years later, I'm still working on that game - WILD. An RPG of "dreamsharing". I've always been fascinated by dreams, ever since having the crap scared out of me with the first Nightmare on Elm St, so that moment when I decided to stop dreaming about a dreamshare game and actually write one, I started devouring everything that would help to inspire, entertain and inform.

Readers here on my blog have followed the development of WILD (short for Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming), how I've been writing the game, working on the game system, and changing and developing it over the years. Hell, you just have to click the WILD RPG button at the top of the blog and you'll get all the posts filtered for you. Even when I've been working on other things, it's been burning away at the back of my mind.

So much so, that when I thought foolishly that I'd join my wife's yearly crusade for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel in November 2012 - tentatively titled "Into the WILD". The novel served as a work of fiction aimed at teens, that could be read alone (it was the first of a trilogy) or as the backstory and background to the roleplaying game - explaining why and how the dreamsharing technology came into existence.

It followed a tech developer's teenage daughter who slips into a coma. We follow the story mostly from her point of view, trapped in her dreams, while her father develops the dreamshare tech hoping to go into her dreamscape and help guide her out and to wakefulness.

It was okay, but needed a hell of a lot of work doing to it. But I finished something (for once) and the following NaNoWriMo I decided I'd either work on the sequel, or the rewrite.

[Don't worry, I'll get to the point soon...]

Time passed, but I always kept an eye open for movies, series and books about dreams to keep my mind in the right place while was working on the game.
Cover of Dreamfall - Amy Plum
(Though this doesn't capture the rather lovely spot-gloss waves of distortion)

Earlier this year, I discovered a book called "Dreamfall" by Amy Plum. It had been released in the States to great acclaim, and had already been optioned for a TV series by the people behind the Scream TV series (which is really good!). I read the description of the book and I was a bit worried...

Seven teenagers who suffer from debilitating insomnia agree to take part in an experimental new procedure to cure it because they think it can’t get any worse. But they couldn’t be more wrong. When the lab equipment malfunctions, the patients are plunged into a terrifying dreamworld where their worst nightmares have come to life—and they have no memory of how they got there. Hunted by monsters from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, these seven strangers will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.
-text from Amazon

Crikey! Sounds a bit like what I'd been working on.

Getting to the point, the book came out in the UK a couple of weeks ago and I picked up a copy from my local bookstore to see what it was like.

First of all, it's nothing like what I've been working on, so that was a relief. Secondly, it's actually really good!

As the Amazon blurb says the story revolves around seven teenagers who are hooked up to a machine in a research lab for an experimental cure for their insomnia/night terrors. After a freak accident, they're trapped in a cycle where they are trapped in one of the seven kids' most horrific nightmares, and if they survive they can recover and rest (and their wounds are healed if they've survived) in a "void" like loading space, before being thrust into the next nightmare.

The nightmares are horrifically familiar, playing on everyone's worst fears and making them even more harrowing. I must admit, for a teen title I wasn't expecting to feel quite so palm-sweatingly tense while reading it. I mean, I'm in my late forties. I shouldn't be wigged out (for want of a better term) while mentally egging the characters on to escape.

Another confession is that I normally don't like books in present tense. Maybe it's just old-fashioned of me, but I can find it a little off-putting. And, this is told in first person from three different perspectives - Cata and Fergus (two of the teens trapped in the "dreamfall" as they call it), and Jaime (a med student sitting in on the experimental procedure, often noticing details the doctors behind this process are missing in their panic). Thankfully, the writing is excellent and you can tell the characters apart - their voices feel different - and the present tense gives the nightmare sequences a real sense of urgency.

There are some excellent plot-twists - one of which I saw coming, but it distracted me from the other couple of twists so well that I was genuinely surprised.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I've had real trouble concentrating at the moment. Stress being the major factor, I've found it really difficult to finish books, or sit through any movie that's less that utterly gripping.

Dreamfall, I read in its entirety in three days, which is a great testament.


In summary, it's great. Loved it. A fast paced, gripping read with some seriously scary moments. Thankfully it is very different from what I had been working on, so I can breathe a sigh of relief.

My only complaint? It really finishes with a bit of a cliffhanger, and we have to wait until May 2018 for Neverwake to finish the story. I don't know if I can wait that long!

You can find more info about Amy Plum on her website here.

And you can find Dreamfall in bookshops (preferable) or on Amazon or Waterstones.


Maybe I should get back to that novel for this year's NaNoWriMo?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dream Inspiration

I had a dream.

I was in a large, old building in London. The sort of building you see in the movies, that are owned by the rich, or possibly even a gentleman's club. I remember going through to the kitchen, and someone I recognised offered me a piece of chocolate cake. It was a huge chocolate cake, with white icing, but it was balanced on a breadboard on top of the washing up. As I turned to rescue it, it sank into the washing up water, and I ended up scooping it up in my hands and throwing it into the bin.

Poster for Peter Dinklage's movie,
(available now on Google Play)
I returned to the main sitting room of the "club" and Peter Dinklage and Al Pacino were there, discussing their film work. I sat at the table wanting to join in with the conversation, when a tall, skinny guy came up to me and asked who I was. He kept asking me strange questions, but I was frustrated because he didn't listen to any of my answers - he was just waiting for a space to talk to me about his project.

However, his project was a book. He handed me a copy and told me to have a look. It was large, like a phone book, and I started trying to read it. It was full of pretentious language and made little sense, but the further through the book I got, the more illustrations appeared. It became almost half graphic novel, half book, with individual words in different colours. Some of the images moved, parts we orientated differently.

I asked if he'd been influenced by "House of Leaves", and I closed the book. He pretentiously called it a Bible, but I recognised the cover from one of the advance catalogues I'd used at work.

I woke inspired.


But what to do with this information?

This is obviously my subconscious trying to tell me that I like the idea I'd already had for how I want the book to look. But who was the person telling me about his book in my dream? I seem to remember him looking a lot like Tony Hale from Arrested Development, but I haven't watched that in many years.

And why were Al Pacino and Peter Dinklage there? Maybe it's a subconscious thing again, knowing that Dinklage is in a movie I'm about to watch ("Rememory") that uses a headset device to access the memories of people... a sort of murder mystery type thing. Al Pacino? Maybe that's from Insomnia, and the video documentary I was watching about Christopher Nolan films?

They say you never dream of a face you haven't seen.

What should I do with this new knowledge? Go with it? Know that I'm on the right track?

Dreams can be quite an inspiration. There's always the legend of various scientists and artists waking from their dreams with ideas for formulas, works of art or songs, perfectly formed and them leaping to desperately note their ideas before they vanish.

Hell, going back to David Lynch (see previous post), one of the great inspirations for my creative life for many years. He uses dreams to inspire and even "catches the big fish" - that is, finds the inspiration and the ideas by swimming the great lake of the collective unconscious through transcendental meditation.

If my dreams are telling me that I'm on the right track, I just hope they give me ideas that I can use.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Never mind the quality, feel the width...

Just a quickie to say that there have been some minor cosmetic changes to the blog. It was annoying me that the actual area the text filled on the blog was tiny compared to the background. Recently, Blogger has added a way to adjust the width of elements, and I've done a little tweaking.

So, if you look at any of the older posts on here (after all, this is my 252nd post on here) and the pictures, and the runaround of the text around the pictures, seems a little weird, it's because I've changed the width. I've corrected a host of the major posts, like the Harry Potter ones, and the RPGaDAY posts, but some of the older ones may not flow perfectly.

Sorry! Hope you think the site looks better for it!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We Live Inside a Dream

I mentioned in a post a while back that I was a huge fan of Twin Peaks (and David Lynch in general). I really wanted to write a post on here about the finale of the third season of Twin Peaks, or Twin Peaks: The Return as it's often called. But where to begin?

I LOVE the unexpected. Anything that avoids that moment when you go "Ah, I can see what's going to happen" is great in my book. I love to be surprised by TV and movies, to not see the same old plots and tropes. Twin Peaks is far from predictable. Where the first couple of series were a soap opera / murder mystery with some paranormal elements, the third / return series has been full-on David Lynch.

My old post was just after watching the first two episodes and I was already hooked and thrilled. It did everything I wanted - it introduced new characters, a new murder mystery, addressed some of the Cooper elements with the Black Lodge and the doppelgänger, and had some stand out weird elements.

But nothing prepared me for the now legendary Episode 8 (aka "Gotta Light?") where, after a brief period of relatively normal narrative, we are treated to a live performance by my favourite band ever (Nine Inch Nails), then 45mins of strange black and white sequences with the nuclear explosion at Trinity, the birth of BOB from the "Mother", the Fireman sending a golden orb of Laura Palmer into the desert, strange frog-legged bugs crawling into the mouth of a young girl as she sleeps, and various woodsmen breaking into our reality and killing people.

The birth of BOB in Episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return

That was the moment I had an epiphany. Twin Peaks had a message for me.

"Do whatever you like. Don't try to please everyone, just create."

Do you think David Lynch, when he was coming up with that episode, thought "I really shouldn't do this, people won't get it." I know Mark Frost co-wrote this series, but there's so much Lynch in this episode - so much Eraserhead and his wacky b/w art-movie feel - that I don't think Frost got much of an input on this one.

But it really did make me think that I should stop worrying about what I'm writing, and just get it out there. Not everyone is going to like it, but someone will. Maybe just one person who's as nuts as me.

Then came Episode 14, aka "We are like the Dreamer". Like Lynch, I'm fascinated by dreams. I wish I could do the transcendental meditation where he catches his big fish. But if you've followed my game writing, especially for WILD and what I've been trying to do for the last six years with it, you'll understand. When Episode 14 started and Gordon Cole (played by David Lynch) says that he had "another Monica Bellucci dream" and we see the strangeness that unlocks a memory of his encounter with Philip Jeffries (the late, great David Bowie) back in the movie Fire Walk With Me - you'll know I was squirming and giggling with delight.

The ever amazing Monica Bellucci - subject of Gordon Cole's dreams...

"We are like the dreamer, who dreams, and then lives inside the dream. But who is the dreamer?"

The finale was shown as two episodes (17 & 18). Everything was perfectly wrapped up in Episode 17 pretty early on - evil Cooper doppelgänger (Mr. C) had been dispatched, the BOB inside was punched into oblivion, and then it all gets REALLY weird. With a close up of Cooper's face superimposed over a lot of the scene, Cooper foreshadows what he intends to do - "There are some things that will change. The past dictates the future." But the superimposed face of Cooper reminds us - "We live inside a dream."

While Cooper travels back to the night Laura Palmer died, he tries to intervene and stop her murder. We see scenes from the first ever episode, as if Laura was never found "wrapped in plastic". But she vanishes when Cooper tries to lead her home and Cooper leaves the Lodge to be greeted by Diane. They set off to travel into another reality to save Laura. It all gets even weirder as the final eighteenth episode progresses with changes of personality, of name, of reality. All culminating in a final scene that will resonate in TV history and spark even more debate than "How's Annie?" ever did twenty six years ago...

"What year is it?"

Twenty six years ago I was just as obsessed with Twin Peaks. As I mentioned in my previous post, I recorded them all off of BBC2, and analysed them as much as my younger brain could. When I had to present a project for my graphic design course (the project was to explain something to someone) I foolishly picked Twin Peaks.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a photo I took of the project, trying to make a relationship map with all of the characters from the original two series.

Photo of my Twin Peaks relationship map project from 1992

It's not very good, and I didn't have the internet to check all of the relationships, but it does show how completely and utterly obsessed I was with the series back then. I hope it raises a smile at least!

Now, with the finale out of the way, it still inspires me. There are huge elements that tie in with what I've been writing - dreamlike narratives, the strange seeping into reality, tulpas, etc. I'm looking forward to a rewatch of all 18 hours (though it may be a bit mindblowing to do it in one sitting).

All I can really say at the end of all of this is a huge thank you to Mark Frost and David Lynch. For letting us into their world, and telling us that it's okay to be inspired by our dreams. And thank you to everyone involved with the series. For challenging what a TV series can be and getting everyone talking and thinking.

Please don't leave us wanting for another twenty five years!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - This is the End (for now): Recap Days 17-31

The final post of #RPGaDAY for 2017. However, before I post a recap of the second half of the month, I wanted to take a moment to thank Anthony Boyd (Runeslinger) and the RPGBrigade for hosting #RPGaDAY again this year. Together they came up with this year's questions, hosted the site, posted the questions on the Facebook page, supplied back-up alternative questions for those who didn't like the question of the day, and (with the help of RPGBrigadiers worldwide) sourced translations of the questions into multiple languages to make it easier for gamers to get involved all around the globe.

Once again, Anthony and the Brigade, thank you for your help, support and enthusiasm, keeping #RPGaDAY alive for another year.

Another big thank you goes out to Will Brooks for his super-classy graphic design again, producing the cool infographic that you've seen just about everywhere this month. You're a star!

And finally, thank you to everyone who took part - spreading the word of tabletop gaming, getting people talking in a positive way about RPGs and posting blog entries, making videos, or just posting on Facebook or Twitter. I hope you've enjoyed this year's #RPGaDAY and are not too sick of it.

We've had four years' worth of questions, and it's getting tricky coming up with new ones, so I'm pondering something a little different next year. But that's a long way off. Don't worry, #RPGaDAY will return (hopefully) next year in some form or other.

Thank you again, and without further ado here are my last few responses.

Until next time, stay multi-classy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Week 2 Recap (Days 10-16)

Another busy week online for #RPGaDAY, though I'm expecting it to quieten down for a bit while everyone goes to the gaming event of the year - GenCon.

Meanwhile, I'm still home and posting videos. Here's a recap of days 10-16...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Week 1 (Questions 1-9)

We're already on Day 9 of #RPGaDAY 2017, and I've been absolutely blown away by the response. So many people all over the world posting, chatting, and discovering games new and old. It's been amazing. Thank you everyone.

Rather than bombard you all with multiple posts various things, I thought I'd just do a few recap posts so you can see any of the daily video responses you may have missed.

It's not too late to get involved, feel free to jump in at any time. Just go to this post to find the graphics, the list of questions as text, and the questions in different languages.


So, without further ado, here's the first nine videos I've posted for #RPGaDAY 2017.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


It's August, and #RPGaDAY is underway. There seems to be a lot more people involved this year, with my Facebook and Twitter feeds filled with the cool gold infographic that Will Brooks kindly designed for us again this year.

#RPGaDAY was, as I mentioned before, a reaction to some of the negativity that was going around online when it came to our hobby, and gaming in general. Inspired by BookaDayUK, it hopes to get people talking about tabletop gaming in a positive way.

But there was another ulterior motive behind me starting this. It wasn't a conscious one at the time, but it must have been in the back of my head when I started putting plans into action. I wasn't busy besides the day job in retail, and subconsciously my mind was desperately searching for distraction.

2017 marks the fourth year that #RPGaDAY has dominated my head in August. Today, the 3rd of August, also marks the fifth anniversary of losing my mother. It seems to be the way I deal with things like that. When my dad died in 2003, it was just a week after I signed a contract with Eden Studios to write four 100k+ word books for Conspiracy X 2.0. He had been very ill for a while, and proud of my writing. I don't thing he read any of it (after all, it was boring roleplaying rules) but it didn't stop him taking a copy of them with him to show various relatives, or showing my books off when there were visitors at home. I think the last few things I told him, was that I was going to be writing some books for a company in New York, and that Debs and I had gotten engaged. I dealt with his passing by immersing myself in writing, aliens and conspiracies, seldom coming up for air. The real world just hurt a little too much.

Me, my mum and dad, at my graduation in 1995
When mum died, five years ago, there was the initial busy-ness of sorting the house and moving my remaining belonging out of my childhood home. When it was sold, there was a strange double sense of loss. Not only had I lost my mother, but the house I grew up in had gone.

The idea of #RPGaDAY spreading a little love around the world, getting people talking and communicating in a positive way seemed to be a great plan. I didn't consciously think "Oh this is a great distraction," but somewhere subconsciously I think my brain welcomed the rush of activity. And while I don't think my parents would have understood half of what I was doing, they'd have been glad to see that I was encouraging people to talk in a positive way with each other.

So, in essence, this post is a thank you. Thank you everyone who has taken part in #RPGaDAY in the past, and this year. Thank you for filling my head with tales of adventure and excitement. Fantastic quests and daring escapes. Reminding me of a time when I gamed with my old group in that childhood home (I think my parents really liked that I was playing D&D rather than becoming a drunk layabout).

Thank you for spreading the word of how much fun our hobby can be, and how we can make friends through gaming that can last a lifetime.

And thank you for taking my mind off of the real world for a little while, just when I need it.

Above all, thank you. Keep writing those blog posts, recording those videos, and sharing the fun. It means a lot to me.

Stay multi-classy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#RPGaDAY 2017 - Announcing #RPGaDAY, again!

A few years ago I felt there was a negative undercurrent in our hobby. Sorry to say that, but I felt it was there, and inspired by one of those "aDay" things for bibliophiles I thought that I could try to get the world talking about tabletop RPGs in a positive and encouraging way. I know, it's sappy and you probably think I'm being ridiculous, but it's all positive and it's a bit of fun - just trying to get people talking in a good way about tabletop gaming. After all, it's a great hobby that gets us talking in person, socially, without staring at a screen. It stimulates the imagination, forms bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime, and gets you thinking outside of the box.

So, I came up with a list of 31 questions for August (GenCon month, seeing as I couldn't go and I wanted to feel involved in some way), and the internet joined in. Well, a few did, anyway. All over the world, from America to Australia, from Brazil to Berlin, people were joining in the conversation, hashtagging everything #RPGaDAY so you could see what people were saying on the various social media.

If nothing else, it got people blogging and vlogging.

The following year, I thought I'd run it again with new questions. I also managed to get cool people from the gaming industry to join in on my daily videos, and it was great.

Last year, I was a little busy. I thought about not doing it, but Anthony Boyd and the RPGBrigade stepped in and said they'd run the event for the month. It gave them some publicity (which is great, as their BrigadeCon raises money for charity) and the few posts I did do that month reached a lot further than I could alone.

So this year, while I'm not massively busy, I thought I'd let Anthony and the RPGBrigade run things again. Hopefully I'll join in as much as possible.

I recorded some video footage to join with Anthony's to announce this month's event.

You can download the infographic, brilliantly designed again by Will Brooks, from the images below... (click the images to embiggen them!!)

There's also a high definition if you it find easier to read -

More information can be found at the CastingShadowsBlog here. and check out the Facebook page here.



For a plain text version if you'd prefer, here are the questions for August:

1st) What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?
2nd) What is an RPG you would like to see published?
3rd) How do you find out about new RPGs?
4th) Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?
5th) Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?
6th) You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!
7th) What was your most impactful RPG session?
8th) What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?
9th) What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?
10th) Where do you go for RPG reviews?
11th) Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?
12th) Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?
13th) Describe a game experience that changed how you play.
14th) Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
15th) Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
16th) Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?
17th) Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?
18th) Which RPG have you played the most in your life?
19th) Which RPG features the best writing?
20th) What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?
21st) Which RPG does the most with the least words?
22nd) Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?
23rd) Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?
24th) Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.
25th) What is the best way to thank your GM?
26th) Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
27th) What are your essential tools for good gaming?
28th) What film or series is the most-frequent source of quotes in your group?
29th) What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?
30th) What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

31st) What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

Here are the questions in French, with thanks to Sébastien ‘Nolinquisitor‘ Allard:
1) Quel JDR en circulation désiriez-vous jouer en ce moment?
2) Quel JDR aimeriez-vous voir publié?
3) De quelle façon découvrez-vous de nouveaux jeux de rôle?
4) Quel JDR avez-vous joué le plus depuis août 2016?
5) Quel JDR capture le mieux l’esprit du jeu?
6) Vous pouvez jouer tous les jours, pendant une semaine. Décrivez ce que vous faites!
7) Quelle a été la session ayant eue le plus grand impact?
8) Quel JDR est bon pour des sessions de 2 heures ou moins?
9) Quel JDR est bon pour environ 10 sessions?
10) Où allez-vous pour vos critiques de JDR?
11) Quel “jeu mort” voudriez-vous voir renaître?
12) Quel JDR possède les plus inspirantes illustrations intérieures?
13) Décrivez une expérience de jeu qui a changée votre façon de jouer.
14) Quel est votre JDR préféré pour les campagnes ouvertes et sans-fin.
15) Quel JDR aimez-vous le plus adapter et modifier?
16) Quel JDR aimez-vous utiliser tel quel?
17) Quel JDR possédez-vous depuis le plus longtemps mais que vous n’avez pas jouer?
18) Quel JDR avez vous jouer le plus dans votre vie?
19) Quel JDR présente la plus belle écriture?
20) Quelle est la meilleure source pour trouver des JDRs épuisés?
21) Quel JDR accomplit le plus avec le moins de mots?
22) Quel JDR vous est le plus facile à faire jouer?
23) Quel JDR a la mise en page la plus renversante?
24) Partagez un éditeur de “Pay What You Want” qui devrait charger plus.
25) Quelle est la meilleure façon de remercier son MJ?
26) Quel JDR offre les meilleurs ressources?
27) Quels sont vos outils essentiels pour faire une bonne partie?
28) Quel film ou série est la plus grande source de citations pour votre groupe?
29) Quel a été la campagne de financement participatif la mieux dirigée que vous avez appuyée?
30) Quel mixage de genres aimeriez-vous voir en JDR?
31) Qu’est-ce que vous anticipez le plus pour 2018?

Here are the questions in German, thanks to Michael Jaegers (click the link).

For the questions in Portuguese, click here for the list thanks to Felipe Holzmann.

Roberto Micheri  has kindly translated the questions in to Spanish (below):

Preguntas para un Juego de Rol al Día 

Agosto 1: ¿Cuál juego de rol ya publicado desearía jugar en la actualidad?

Agosto 2: ¿Cuál sería un juego de rol que le gustaría ver publicado? 
Agosto 3: ¿Cómo se entera de nuevos juegos de rol? 
Agosto 4: ¿Cuál es el juego de rol que más ha jugado desde agosto 2016?
Agosto 5: ¿Cuál portada de un juego de rol captura mejor el espíritu del juego?
Agosto 6: Puede jugar todos los días por una semana. ¡Describa lo que haría!
Agosto 7: ¿Cuál fue la sesión más impactante de un juego rol?
Agosto 8: ¿Cuál es un buen juego de rol para una sesión de 2 horas o menos?
Agosto 9: ¿Cuál es un buen juego para jugar aproximadamente 10 sesiones?
Agosto 10: ¿Donde va para reseñas de juegos de rol?
Agosto 11: ¿Cuál juego “muerto” le gustaría ver resucitado?
Agosto 12: ¿Cuál juego de rol tiene el arte interior más inspirador?
Agosto 13: Describa una experiencia en un juego de rol que cambió como juega.
Agosto 14: ¿Cuál juego de rol prefiere para una campaña sin un final definido?
Agosto 15: ¿Cuál juego de rol disfruta más modificar?
Agosto 16: ¿Cuál juego de rol disfruta tal como está escrito?
Agosto 17: ¿Cuál juego de rol ha tenido por más tiempo sin haberlo jugado?
Agosto 18: ¿Cuál juego de rol ha jugado más en su vida?
Agosto 19: ¿Cuál juego esta mejor escrito?
Agosto 20: ¿Cuál es la mejor fuente de juegos que se encuentran fuera de publicación?
Agosto 21: ¿Cuál juego de rol hace más con las menos palabras?
Agosto 22: ¿Cuáles juegos de rol son más fáciles de correr para usted?
Agosto 23: ¿Cuál libro de juego de rol tiene la diagramación más impresionante?
Agosto 24: Comparta una casa publicadora que ofrece sus productos al precio que el cliente desee pagar, pero que debería cobrar más.
Agosto 25: ¿Cuál es la mejor forma para agradecer al GM o director del juego?
Agosto 26: ¿Cuál juego de rol provee los recursos más útiles?
Agosto 27: ¿Cuáles son sus herramientas esenciales para un buen juego?
Agosto 28: ¿Cuál película o serie es la más citada en su grupo de juego?
Agosto 29: ¿Cuál ha sido la campaña de mecenazgo mejor dirigida que ha apoyado?
Agosto 30: ¿Qué combinación de géneros de juegos de rol más le gustaría ver?
Agosto 31: ¿Que anticipa mas para los juegos en el 2018?

(Hope that helps!!)