Wednesday, 23 August 2017

My game designing story so far - part two

So USR in its first form was on the internet and people were warm to it. I decided to get in touch with OBS and set up a publisher account, eventually uploading several previous T&T supplements and USR.

I was apprehensive to say the least. This was a bigger platform than I was used to, so generally I was worried about all these seasoned gamers hating my creation.

Turns out, most people liked it. Some loved it. Spurred on by the reception I started putting plans in place for supplements, starting work on USR Cyberpunk. This was an effort to stretch USR as far as it could go - taking a traditionally complex gaming genre and making it work for a rules lite game and I believe it may have been the first to do this.

I followed this up with The Trollmanac, which is probably my favourite T&T supplement and my first book to get some kind of award (runner-up Diehard GameFAN 2013). Meanwhile USR was gaining traction by a handful of people online, one being my friend of quite a few years Stuart Lloyd, who is a gamebook genius. He proposed creating a short gamebook for USR as an intro to the rules, which became Locket Away.

At this point I was seeing that there could be something in this game designing malarkey and I was vindicated when The Mary Sue wrote about USR in an article about great games you've never heard of. Sure, the money was still only enough to buy a monthly pizza, but it was something.

Google Plus became a haven for me as a designer. Here was a bunch of people I could talk to, riff on and ultimately be inspired by. It also served as a ground for marketing my stuff and to this day it's one of my most effective avenues for this.

Late 2013 I released Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying, my biggest book at the time. This was the first supplement which I considered a slog, having worked since USR's inception on a fantasy version of the game. It's a fun game, but not my favourite work - but you can find the origin of my Dunsanian fantasy game Tequendria right here.

In early 2014 I released my refurbished version of USR to the world, with an aim to build off that over the coming years.

Next time: 'experimental' games, Beyond Fear and stepping into the Void.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

My game designing story so far - part one

Self-aggrandizing post in 3, 2, 1...

I was probably about 14 when I designed my first tabletop game. I use the term loosely -it was a grand theft auto clone with bodily hit locations and that was pretty much the gist of it. I would sit at my desk with my biro scribbling hacked up rules and draw cool robots and suchlike in the margins because - hello - teenage boy.

I would always return to that desk and notebook - jotting down ideas for new games that I can only half remember - something to do with aliens who could infect you with poison needle claws. Nowadays it would probably be considered Gonzo. Gonzo and shit.

Fast forward, oh, six years? I get in a conversation online with a chap called Tom K Loney, who I consider a pivotal reason for getting into game design and a guy who called himself Khenn - who I'd later come to know as the great Ken St Andre. Talk turned to Tunnels and Trolls after I wanted to find out more about solo roleplaying. From there I was hooked - I grabbed a bunch of solos and had my merry way with them, filthy devil that I am. Inspired by T&T I started up this here blog, making what would be my first public game design posts.

It wasn't long before I released my first published book - a T&T solo called Depths of the Devilmancer. By now I was part of the Trollhalla group, so designers like Loney, Sid Orpin, Andy Holmes and St Andre help spurred me on. I followed Depths up with Thornguard, an open world solo inspired by the Fabled Lands series, and Forest of the Treelords, my first GM adventure.

Trollhalla became a forge for my designs, helping them get seen and talked about (a bit). I eventually went on to contribute to several editions of Peryton Publishing,'s Elder Tunnels, my first taste of working for a third party publisher.

2011 rolled around and I'd been kicking around ideas for my own system. By then I had become a fan of S John Ross' superb Risus, which got me thinking about rules lite games. I knew I wanted to create something that was easy to pick up and could run any genre. I spent a Sunday afternoon in my crappy rented house at the time scribbling down ideas. What I produced became Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying. I didn't have a presence on Drivethrurpg back then, so I put the file up on 1KM1KT and kind of just hoped people would play it and like it.

After maybe a week of posting I had my first comments and they were really positive. I was over the moon! Had I really just designed a game and people actually liked it? Sure, maybe, what, 30 people had seen it, but it was a start.

Next time: Trollmanac, the rise(ish) of USR and Google Plus

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Quill wins an Indie RPG Award

It's awards season for RPG creators, so we're all dressing in our finest tuxedos and ballgowns to strut our fine selves down the red carpet, metaphorical and otherwise.

I'm excited to say that Quill has received the award for Best Free Game at the Indie RPG Awards. Who would have thought a bizarre solo game about writing letters would win an award? Not this guy.

Other winners included John Harper's Blades in the Dark, which nabbed Indie Game of the Year, Best Support AND Best Production - go John! Ben Robbins netted Best Supplement for Microscope Explorer, and #Feminism: A Nano-game Anthology by Misha Bushyager, Lizzie Stark and Anna Westerling wangled Most Innovative Game. Great work to all winners and runners-up.

You can see all the winner here: 

Some more good news for Quill - the game recently went platinum on DriveThruRPG! Noice.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Grab the Zach Best RPG Bundle for a great cause

I've been away from the internet for a bit, but I wanted to let you know about the Zach Best Family Benefit Bundle, which contains more than $180 worth of roleplaying magnificence for just $10.

Zach Best is a beloved creator and founder of Conjecture Games, making excellent supplements like BOLD and UNE. Sadly Zach is in hospice care suffering from esophageal cancer.

RPG creator Jacob Ross has kindly asked a bunch of creators to contribute to a fantastic bundle in order to aid with expenses. You've got full games like ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG and my own Romance of the Perilous Land, in addition to adventures like Castle Oldskull and Well of the Twice Born, as well as some great supplements. 

So please consider downloading and contributing. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Stormwytch, a new archetype for Tequendria

It's time to get witchy with Tequendria. Here's a new archetype for your game. 


Electricity crackles through her veins and dark clouds bubble around her as she moves. The Stormwytch is chaos incarnate - the living roil who lives in mountainous regions where lightning might strike her, imbuing her with the might of storms. 

Starting Specialisms
  • Weather lore (Wits)
  • Magic lore (Wits)
  • Terrifying (Ego)

Starting Equipment
  • 2d6 x 10 shards
  • Mouse
  • Black cloak
  • Sprig of hendria root

  • Living Storm - you may cast the following spell:

Lightning Spark
Spell cost: 2
Difficulty: Medium
Effect: You fire a bolt of electricity against one opponent within 40ft, doing 1d6 damage. 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Halfway through 2017, what does Trollish Delver Games look like?

Where does the year go? We're more than halfway through so I thought I'd take stock and share what has happened in TDG towers over the past six months.

Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying

My first release of the year was the biggest in TDG history. Tequendria began life as a revamp of Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying, but took on a life of its own as I drew heavy inspiration from the works of Lord Dunsany. The game has been downloaded 1172 times since April and is a silver seller on DriveThruRPG.

Wired Neon Cities

Being a fan of rules lite gaming and cyberpunk, it made sense that I merged the In Darkest Warrens ruleset with a healthy dose of cyberpunkishness to create Wired Neon Cities. Currently sitting on DriveThruRPG as a silver seller with 964 downloads as of writing. I was worried that the game wouldn't be as well received as IDW, because people kind of expect some complexities when it comes to this genre, but I've been over the moon with the response. You can listen to a fan-made actual play session below.

Quill: Shadow and Ink

My first supplement of the year was launched just last week, but so far I've seen a good reception. This has been in the works since mid-last year, not long after I released Quill itself, but I kept scrapping it because I was never happy with the story and structure. I'm proud of how this turned out and with 367 downloads in a week, I'm also heartened to see the enthusiasm for the game.


I decided again to enter Game Chef this year with my game Liminality. You can check it out here:

Third Party Products

I'm fortunate that the Delver-verse has a growing community of publishers creating games and supplements.

Quill Quest: The Warlord's Downfall - Tim Snider's foray into the world of Quill is a great one and clearly we were both on the same wavelength with the 'quest points' gained at the end of each scenario.

Anthropomorphic USR - Jay Murphy continues to put out great games using the USR system. Anthropomorphic USR is a love letter to 90s cartoons and comics where human-like animals were the stars.

Horrors Material and Magic Malignant - Try say that twice as fast. Another one from the fertile brain of Jay Murphy for use with USR Sword and Sorcery. HMMM is a treasure trove of NPCs, magical artefacts and monsters for your Conan-style USR games.

Stuff on the Horizon

So yeah, it's been busy so far this year but there's no rest for the wicked. I tend to have a lot of projects on the go and some I'll give up on and some I'll pick up again. If I'm not happy with a project I'll either scrap it on rewrite it entirely. This can happen even when I've pretty much completed a book.

Doom of the Savage Land - This is an OSR game I'm working on that's currently 66-pages long. I've put it on hold because I'm not sure whether it brings anything new to the table in terms of the OSR landscape. Until I've figured this out, I don't know when this will be released.

Chronic Planet - Another OSR game based on a stoner version of the John Carter stories. Because I'm doing the art for this, it's taking a while.

Wired Neon Cities: Street Life - This all exists in notes at the moment, but this new WNC supplement will include new rules, gangs, tech, classes and more.

In Darkest Warrens: Rogue's Port - This is almost done. It's the first setting supplement for IDW.

Hell on High Water - Demons and pirates using In Darkest Warrens rules.

That's the stuff that's in the works, although I can't say whether all of these will launch this year (it's very unlikely this will happen).