Monday, 28 September 2015

Lords of Bone and Ash

A long time ago I was making a game called Demonlord, which was going to use USR. It was dark fantasy - like Diablo, Dark Souls and The Witcher. Demonlord fell by the wayside, but like most of my projects I generally pick them back up at some time or another.

So, after a name change and a different lick of paint, I'm writing a dark fantasy game called Lords of Bone and Ash. Unlike Somnium Void and Beyond Fear, which are setting supplements, Lords of Bone and Ash is a complete RPG using the USR system.

The game will come in three booklets a la White Box D&D, with a very 1970s aesthetic. Archetypes include Ravenguard, Stoutmen, Huldefolk, Shamans, Corpsers and Street Rat (yep, those are both "classes" and "races"). You'll get a complete setting too, all for a pay what you want price.

Not sure when it will be out - likely early 2016, but I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Beyond Fear, the USR guide to cosmic horror, is here

I'm excited to announce that I have released a new supplement for USR that focuses on Lovecraftian horror. Beyond Fear is a pay-what-you-want title, with all proceeds going towards Refuge, a domestic abuse charity.

Beyond Fear gives you ideas for character builds in a modern cosmic horror setting, as well as information on cults, secret grimoires, Lesser Beings and Elder Gods. It's perfect for that Halloween game you've been thinking of preparing.

Download Beyond Fear now.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

An RPG on a Post-it: Stickynote Quest

I like weird projects so I sat down and created an RPG that can fit entirely on two sides of a sticky note. I've also included an equipment list, bestiary, setting information and a super tiny adventure.

I've tried, and I can fit all this on a regular sticky note.

I'm not saying it's particularly great - but I fancied a little challenge.

I can see myself writing adventures and setting material on sticky notes in the future.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Somnium Void status update (and a chat)

It's been a while since I posted anything about Somnium Void, so I thought I'd share an update with you. Because only I solely work on my books, and I don't really have a set schedule like a fancy pants publisher, some books can take a while to get off the ground and change many, many times during the writing process. Also, I'm prone to having an idea and running with it straight away, so I'm always bouncing between projects. However, pretty much all projects I talk about get made in some form or another - whether it's Gauntlets and Goblins becoming Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying, or Slackers becoming a USR hack blog post.

That said, Somnium Void is almost finished. It looks like it's going to be between 40 and 50 pages, and while that isn't exactly a big book, for a micro-press like me it's a lot of time and effort.

Confession: when White Star was released I almost decided to completely can Somnium Void. Here was a simple game that did space opera effortlessly. How was I going to compete with that? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was ridiculous of me to think about these things in terms of competition. As I say, I'm not a business - I'm a one-man operation who loves creating roleplaying games. I make things because I love making. Besides, Somnium Void has a tonne of differences to White Star. The premise, for one, is unique and nothing like I've seen in games in the past. Plus, it runs on USR, which is a system that some people really, really dig, which is amazing. So, really, Void is absolutely for those people - for the fans who make new USR rules and run games every week with their friends.

Oh, and, take a look at the final cover.

The way that I work and my complete crippling worry that I'm going to produce something that people are going to dislike has given me pause about my Patreon. I've not yet taken any money for anything yet, and I honestly don't feel like doing it when Void lands. I don't know what it is exactly, but I just feel weird about it. It's the reason that I will never do a Kickstarter.

Maybe I'm being silly.

Anyway, this has been your Somnium Void update. As for a launch date, let's say it's going to be this side of Christmas. I'd love to use the buzz around Star Wars to launch it (ever the PR guy that I am), so it could be next month, or it could be December.

But expect new games, adventures and whatever else to pop up before then. I'd like to release a new Canary Overdrive mission in the next couple of months. I also want to completely revamp Halberd into something a lot more bad-ass, as well as get a Deluxe T&T adventure out of the door before 2016.

I'll also be releasing my Game Chef entry Dreams in Stasis on DriveThru soon and I'm toying with an arboreal-based freeform game.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Comics I'm reading right now

Oh comics, you never cease to entertain me. It's that time where I talk about stuff I'm reading as to help you determine what you might want to read. Kapeesh?

Wild's End (Boom! Studios)

What happens when you cross superstar Guardians of the Galaxy scribe Dan Abnett with anthropomorphic Yorkshirefolk and alien invasions? Well, you obviously get Wild's End, because you read the title. Wild's End is essentially War of the Worlds but in rural England with foxes, badgers, pigs and other jolly animals of our lovely English countryside. Arted by the wonderful N. J. Culbard, who you may know from the fantastic At the Mountains of Madness GN adaptation, Wild's End is just a damned fine book that really resonates with me, being a Yorkshireman and all. Clever, witty and sweet.

Red Sonja (Dynamite)

Yeah, yeah, I know this is old news, but I've finally got around to reading the first volume of Gail Simone's Red Sonja run - you know, the one everyone keeps yammering on about? I can tell you now that it's for bloody good reason too - Red Sonja is an amazing book. I don't think I've read an opening issue quite like this and the first story arc never lets up. Sonja herself is a fantastic character and I can't wait to dive into volume two to see what happens.

Shadowman (Valiant Entertainment)

I can't tell you how obsessed I am with everything that Valiant does. I've been making through all titles since the 2012 re-launch and now I've found myself reading Shadowman, a series about a paranormal hero who kicks the crap out of demons and suchlike. It's a really good read, but I think I've probably spoiled myself after reading the likes of Harbinger and X-O Manowar, which are masterpieces in my eyes.

Mystery Society (IDW)

I read this on a whim because it sounded bat-shit insane and that's the kind of thing I love. I wasn't disappointed. Mystery Society, written by Steve Niles with art by (be still my beating heart) Fiona Staples, is a story about an underground society dedicated to tracking down the weird and terrible, righting wrongs and kicking arse. When you have Jules Verne's brain inside a steampunk robot who wears a scarf, you know you're onto a winner.

I'm also reading the following, but it's been a while and I can't remember everything that's happening in them. They're all great though:

  • Elektra
  • Black Widow
  • Ms Marvel
  • Batman
  • Saga
  • Silver Surfer

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Why I love Campaign Coins

I've never been one for using props in my games, mostly because I'm terrible at making things craft-wise and store-bought props can be expensive. But I've had a bag of Campaign Coins sitting in my sock drawer for a while now (what? Where else would I keep them?) so I decided to give them a whirl the other night. It's now safe to say that I'll always be using these guys from now on.

A note for the uninitiated. Campaign Coins is a brand of metallic fantasy coins for use with your fantasy RPG. They come in all shapes and sizes, colours and designs - and they're nicely crafted too. They feel weighty, like real coins, so giving your players a small pouch of these during a game when their character receives some coin will really add to the immersion.

I've found a really cool way of giving coin-based treasure to the party is by sticking my hand in the bag, grabbing a bunch of the clinky suckers and throwing them on the table in front of them. Since each has a different denomination, you're essentially rolling for random treasure with this action. The added bonus is that the players will scramble to count their horde in real life, which is so much better than just being told how much they gained. You can do this randomly, but this can lead to them getting a tonne more or less money than they should, or you can split the denominations and do it semi-randomly, picking a handful from the small, mid or high denominations.

But you don't have to use them for money. I started giving them out as tokens if they players did something particularly awesome. Different coins can mean different bonuses that they can use in an encounter, per day or whenever you feel like. For instance, a small copper denomination could mean a +2 encounter boost, while a big fat 1000 gold coin may mean an extra action or an extra roll per day.

Also, if you need something to represent an item or chest in a room, plop one of these down on your map. How about using one of the bigger and more impressive coins as a magic item or a quest item? The 5000 piece I have with a dragon on it could easily be something given to the characters if they need to infiltrate a dragon cult.

Campaign Coins are a great addition to your game, and from looking at the site you can also cutomise your own, which is pretty sweet.

Oh, by the way, this post is no way endorsed by Campaign Coins. As part of Trollish Delver's #positivegeekery initiative, I think it's important to highlight the businesses who help make our hobby better, no matter what their size. If I like your stuff, I'll probably write about it.