Sunday 31 December 2017

Godfall - an adventure idea

It's unknown as to why Celanor, the god of clouds, fell from the sky and landed in a field north of Grimstone Farm. It's also unknown why the chap is dead all of a sudden.

Most people in a 150 mile vicinity felt the earth shake when the giant bearded deity crash landed onto mortal soil. After all, the corpse is over 50ft off the ground (lying down, as bodies often do) and 1600ft in length.

Naturally the explorers from the academic institutions were the first to rush over, followed swiftly by the Children of the Cloud. The first fights occured between the clerics and the academics. While the explorers wanted to delve inside the god and see what's what, the religious forbid it, labelling it sacred ground. They even posted several armoured clerics who came to be known as Guardians of the Heavenly Jaw by the mouth to ward off unwanted visitors.

Vistra Pux, halfling mayor of Grimstone, wants to take advantage of the fallen god. Her village is doing poorly since the etheran oil wells dried up a year ago. She sent a contingent of warriors to clear out the clerics - which began the Battle of the Left Shoulder. Pux allowed the academics inside on the proviso that they first report to her.

Only one of the six academics emerged. The others had died within. She told Pux that there were God Pearls within, worth millions on the market. Grimstone would thrive again.

Factions that may hire/hinder the PCs

- The academy needs escorts for future explorers to be venture in
- Adventurers have caught wind of the event and are beginning to arrive to seek their riches
- the Children of the Cloud want the god protected and cleansed of interference
- the city of Valator wishes to lay claim to the God Pearls over Grimstone
- where there is treasure, there are monsters

The God Dungeon

- After death, much of the god solidifies, so inside is almost like stone for the most part, but with ventricles and tubes and stomach acid
- Creatures have spawned within each organ. They are the Bovor, body dwellers. HD 4, AC 3, MV Normal, Dam tentacles 1d6.
- God Pearls appear within organs. The most are found in the brain (pearls of wisdom).
- God Pearls attract monsters
-  Magically rewiring the brain will allow someone to 'pilot' the god

Continuing the story 

There can be a lot of moving parts in this adventure so it's easy to continue throughout a campaign. The underlying mystery to be explored is why Celanor is dead. He's likely been murdered, but by whom and why? Have cults spring up around certain organs and charlatans flogging fake pearls (that actually drain their owner of intelligence).

What happens when another god falls? On the border of a kingdom? All out Godwar!

Thursday 28 December 2017

Some new cyberpunk weapons

All of these weapons were originally designed mechanically for my minimalist game Wired Neon Cities, but all are easily converted to you or favourite ruleset.

Lineage fucker (Katana) - this is a 10-folded blade imbued with a viral code. After the victim is slain with the Katana, the virus rapidly infects its still-living Glow module, accessing 'next of kin's files used by employers and emergency services, to then infect a son or daughter (or both). Once infected, they suffer an information overload in the form of over a billion porn pop ups until they fall into a coma. Hard TestMind to overcome this.

Samurai Blaster - it's a gun that fires Katanas.

Smilegun - a small sidearm (comes in many florescent colours). Virtual bullets pierce the mind and bring the victim to a state of uncontrollable ecstasy. They cannot attack in this state until they successfully TestMind. Does no physical damage.

Phase Rifle - a large sniper rifle. The scope sees perfectly through up to 100 ft of material. The bullet will shoot through up to 150ft of concrete.

Dumbgun - blows your metaphorical brains out. If a dumbgun bullet hits, TestMind. If the test fails, the victim increases their Mind die by a step. If this goes beyond 6+ they become brain dead.

Like minimalist games? Love cyberpunk? Pay what you want for Wired Neon Cities

Wednesday 20 December 2017

The Zanbor Manuscript

Never has a book so vexed the kingdom's scholars as this one. Cloistered away in her squat offices surrounded by stacks of tomes Adnid Treefellow moves her glass of magnification over its yellowed pages, occasionally muttering to herself in her native elven tongue. Adnid is one of four academics in the Golden Pheasant University to dedicate her studies to the Zanbor Manuscript. The book is entirely written in a coded language, unknown to anyone but the author (being the current prevailing theory). The test is as mysterious as the imagery that surrounds it - delicate art showing strange shaped figures, unknown plants, beasts that don't exist, and even several maps that do not conform to the formal structure of a map.

The manuscript was unearthed from an ancient tomb by freelance adventurers. The tomb belonged to Zanbor Toop, a man that history does not remember. They sold the book to an antiques dealer where it remained for more than 200 years before it was found and bought by a university scholar.

It is thought that there must be a sister text somewhere with a cypher, or at least a hidden spell to crack the code (no magic has worked up to this point - there seems to be a dampener woven onto the pages). What's more is it appears that being with the book for too long starts to lead to hallucinations - specters floating in the corner of the eye, voices when one is alone. One of the scholars is specifically studying this phenomenon.

Using the manuscript in your adventure

Adnid is at her wit's end and believes that continuing to study the book could drive the scholars into a spiral of madness. She will put together an expeditionary group including one scholar (likely herself) and a team of adventurers friendly to the university.

They are to return to the original home of the manuscript - Zanbor's tomb, in search of a cypher.

Ensure the manuscript itself is a barrier for the players. Just being near it can trigger hallucinations, so mess with their heads. They start hearing and seeing things that aren't there, getting them into further trouble (was that a cry for help coming from that dark cave?).

The manuscript is precious, so cannot be harmed, however it must be taken as Adnid believes there are clues in it to the location of the cypher. Plus, like the One Ring, she's become obsessed with it. Oh, and the other scholars are really not happy about her taking it. They may just have to hunt her down.

You can swing the adventure your own way, but I like the thought of it leading to a lost underground city full of plants, beasts and people lost in time. Zanbor's ghost may even be somewhat of a god there.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Random temple generator

You arrive at a temple, but what does it look like and who worships there? Use this generator to find out.

Architecture (d10)

  1. Pyramid
  2. Dome
  3. Spire
  4. Dirt Warren
  5. Classic Greek-style temple
  6. Hovel
  7. Ruin
  8. Gothic Church
  9. Tower
  10. Tree-shape
Unusual feature (d10)
  1. It's floating
  2. It can only be seen in the moonlight
  3. It is of blackest obsidian
  4. It is covered in bodies
  5. It phases out of existence at midnight
  6. It emits quiet harpsichord music
  7. Drawing closer makes one vomit crickets
  8. It exists as a tatoo on a sailor's back and can be entered through magical means
  9. It moves around the world
  10. It's much bigger on the inside

Dedicated to what God? (d10)
  1. Goddess of Orphans
  2. God of Scorpions
  3. Goddess of Will
  4. God of Unsaid Things
  5. Goddess of Music
  6. God of Treachery
  7. Goddess of Storms
  8. God of Masks
  9. Goddess of Still Waters
  10. God of the Shunned 
Worshipper features (d10)
  1. They do not look anyone in the eye
  2. Their mouths are sewn shut
  3. They have shaven, tattooed heads
  4. They have monkey tails
  5. They sing instead of speaking
  6. They cannot use nouns
  7. The men and pregnant with dragons
  8. They are blind
  9. They are always drunk
  10. They fear magic

Thursday 23 November 2017

Skyharbour of Ghuren

It's the birds that keep the Ghuren Skyharbour in the air. Four Red Condors flapping their giant wings, carrying the harbour throughout the land, eternal avian gods bequeathed onto the world by Mother Moon in the Days of Starlight. Once every decade the condors land the harbour in a field while they sleep for forty days. 
These are the harbour's Danger Days.

You see, the Skyharbour is home to Xinter's Orphanage, a sanctuary for the children once belonging to evil magic users. These are the Doom Children, imbued with veins of glorious magic, with abilities untapped. For the dark wizards of the world, they are a target for turning. 

When the Skyharbour is afloat, the only way to reach it, of course, is through flight. Stables filled with the stench of bucking griffins, barking hippogriffs and the occasional sleek Pegasus line the streets. When drifting over the dunes of Al Afreet the sky becomes home to hovering carpets piloted by turbaned adventurers, blazing falchions by their sides. Hovering near the metropolis of Linspire, the populace are treated to a display of airships and teleporting scholars that erupt into existence with a colourful spark.

Many who visit come to trade - finding exotic goods they could only dream of - fruits of true vision, harps that summon angels, or tiaras to turn the cold-hearted warm. Others came on diplomatic duties to see the Grand Vizier Elmun Ponn. Part minotaur, part dragon (a Dragotaur), Ponn cuts quite a figure. Despite his wild pedigree he is a refined gentleman with his finger firmly on the pulse of political matters. Never take him for a fool. Never take him to be soft, either. 

Ponn himself has taken up arms on Danger Days, earning him respect among the Ghurese, particularly those of military rank. This admiration was cemented by Ponn's founding of the Scale Knights - drake riders who patrol the airways close to the harbour as a regal defence against monsters and air pirates. 

The streets are a melting pot of colours, cultures and religions due to the harbour's nomadic nature. As a result, traditions are mixed together, new religions are formed and occasionally strife ensues. Lately the Necromantical movement has taken a hold - a magical worship of the dead. Ponn himself has denounced these practises, which often involve bringing spirits back into the world by lashing them to a flesh host, but many argue there are benefits to communing with those who have passed. Fads come and go quickly, though the occasional one will take hold and alter the culture.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Review: Iron Maiden - Legacy of the Beast #1

Since I was 13 I've been obsessed with Iron Maiden. Truly this is the greatest band to even set foot on god's green Earth, with astounding live shows and incredible albums that blow other bands half their age out of the water. So naturally I picked up the Legacy of the Beast comic from Heavy Metal. But is it good?

For the uninitiated, Legacy of the Beast is a mobile game that launched last year and provides the inspiration for the comic. The game sees you progressing through time and space in a turn-based almost-Pokemon collect-a-thon. The game's story is reflected on the comic. There exists a race of Eternals, beings that live outside the confines of space-time, and Maiden's perennial zombie-flavoured mascot Eddie is one of them. Writer Ian Edginton adds a further element to this mix, making Eddie into the personification of creativity and therefore rebellion against mundanity. The story goes that the titular Beast, a literal red devil ripped from the Number of the Beast album cover art, wants to drive people to conform, to repeat their uninteresting lives until they die. In this way, Eddie is the antithesis of the Beat, therefore sworn enemies.

We first meet Eddie chained to a tree where a mysterious red headed woman called the Clairvoyant finds him. Another Eternal, the Clairvoyant's main role is to be a vehicle for exposition and to become Eddie's guide. You see, poor Edward has lost his soul - it was ripped from him and scattered throughout space and time. Other less savoury characters have become imbued with the power of his soul shards and, err, are doing things? It's not quite clear what the consequence of this is. In fact, right now everything is a mystery. Why are those cultists wearing animal masks? Why is one of them actually a muscular humanoid pig? Where did the huge Wickerman come from?

While the pencils by Kevin West are good and the colours by Raul Manriquez and Emmanuel Ordaz are nicely done, the story at the moment seems incredibly confused. However, I don't like to place too much judgement on the first issue of a series, so I'm happy to see how it plays out. I sincerely hope that they don't just follow the game - going to different worlds and beating people up, and actually do something further with the characters. Having Eddie as a growling beast with a cheeky side is a great idea and I don't mind the Clairvoyant, but her dialogue is a little stock, particularly the moment she delivers a couple of lines of Run to the Hills.

I'm happy to see where Legacy of the Beast goes, but it's going to have to work hard to help the reader make sense of the world, particularly if they've never played the game.

Monday 6 November 2017

English Eerie available - already gone copper

You too can have spooky thrills and chills with the release of English Eerie. I released the game yesterday evening and already it's number one in hottest small press and a best copper seller.

Pay what you want and download.

Sunday 5 November 2017

Review: Boring Comics #1 by Emma Thacker

Three years ago I was introduced to a series of comics that would forever change my perception of what the medium could be. This was American Elf by the prolific James Kochalka, a book that exposed the intimacy of everyday humdrum life through a daily comic diary.

The practice of creating such a diary has become routine for some creators like Erika Moen, Marc Ellerby and Jess Fink. It's a tough gig - choosing to expose yourself rather than masking your personality and feelings behind a story, but I can only imagine it's cathartic on some level. Enter Emma Thacker - a British small press illustrator who uses her Boring Comics zine as a vehicle to lay out her everyday anxieties, thoughts and emotions.

The book is artistically raw, often a little haphazard - flagged in an introduction by Thacker who admits that she couldn't keep drawing herself consistently enough. She does emotion well and although the art can be a little janky, it oozes charm.

Like Kochalka, Thacker does inconsequential mundanity, which is in itself a punch line, and emotive strips where she offers relatable tid bits ("I'd love to go to this gig, but it also means I'd have to actually go there"). It's a cosy read - kettle, custard creams, bed, looking a rabbits from the top deck of a bus.

Boring Comics is put out by Black Lodge Press, who specialise in queer and feminist comics. I don't know much about these guys, but other comics they do like Into the Black have caught my interest.

Will there be a Boring Comics #2? Let's hope so because I've just felt like I'm getting to know Thacker through her work and would love to continue joining her on her illustrated journey through life.

Images: Black Lodge Press

Saturday 4 November 2017

English Eerie final cover and update

Ok, so I missed my self-created Halloween deadline for releasing this. Unfortunately, as happens, real life got in the way. 

I'm currently ironing out some scenarios and giving the book an edit and reformat to digest size. You can see the final cover art above, which I'm happy with.

For those of you who have no idea what English Eerie is, let me illuminate you. This is a solitaire storytelling game that helps you create horror stories set in rural England. The game is played using a physical journal, a deck of cards and a ten-sided die, along with a candle for added atmosphere.

The game will be available as a PDF download and a softcover book. 

Thursday 2 November 2017

Review: What is Left by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

If you want to see the bleeding edge of the comics medium, you need to be looking at the small and micro presses.

Last month I took my annual pilgrimage to Thought Bubble (not a long one, mind you - it's right on my doorstep), a comics convention with a heavy focus on independent creators. In the vast array of treasures on offer was What is Left by Minneapolis-based Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, exhibited by the lovely Zainab from Comics and Cola.

Let's just take a moment to oggle at the cover. The sumptuous purple with flecks of colour around the character's head is just gorgeous, and it gets better when you crack it open. Valero-O'Connell uses full pages to great effect to begin the book with the fluid line work flowing off the paper. Immediately you can see the art alone is worth the price of entry.

The central concept is glorious: a starship powered by memories. A volunteer would essentially become the fuel for the ship's engine. Occasionally this engine malfunctions, causing the ship to collapse in on itself. However, for whatever reason the one presented in the book explodes, taking a lone ship-worker with it. She is cast into a sea of memories, enveloped in the subconscious of the volunteer, a young woman she admits to having never really spoken to. What follows is a series of powerful images where we explore the pains, tribulations and toils of growing up and finding your place on the work (or, indeed, universe).

Valero-O'Connell's art is atmospheric, fluid and beautiful. If you think her characters are right out of Stephen Universe, you wouldn't be far off the mark as the writer-artist created the graphic novel cover for the popular cartoon.

What is Left is a moving book framed by a high concept with a lot of heart. I can't recommend it enough.

Available from Shortbox.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Goodbye, Zach

Fellow game designer and much loved family man, Zach Best, has passed. My condolences go out to his friends and family.

Zach suffered from Oesophageal cancer and died last night. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Zach, founder of conjecture games, was a pioneer in the gaming industry, with a focus on solo roleplaying in his UNE, CRGE and BOLD systems.

Jacob Ross has done a great job organising a bundle on Drivethrurpg, and Zach's Book, which he will be leaving up indefinitely for proceeds to go to Zach's family. You can get Zach's Book here.

I regret never getting to know Zach personally, but his spirit and work will live on through the gaming community.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Nurg Vampire for Tequendria

The Nurg Vampires live in scarlet towers whose enchantments surround them in eternal night for miles around. They are dead, brought back from the grave by the Thin Sires, mottled bags of bone and sinew who weave black magics in blacker nights.

A Nurg Vampire is pale of complexion, red of eye and keen of sense. They wear refined fashions of silk and bone and their manners are impeccable. If a Nurg detects an iota of impoliteness in a person, they will swiftly slice their throat and drink upon their blood.

Each Nurg carries with it its life force contained within a Jewel of Sheth. Breaking the jewel through magical means is the only way to ensure a Nurg will remain dead. Even decapitation won't work.

Nurgs do not and cannot say the names of the gods. Should they attempt, blood pours forth from their mouths.

Nurgs can envelope themselves in darkness, even when it is light and move objects with their mind.

Lvl 6
Type: Undead
Aggression level: Aware
Action: d8, Wits: d8, Ego: d10
Hits: 6d8
Attack: d8+3 (Bite d6+1 or Throwing Knife d6+1)
Defence: d8+3
Spells known: Phantom Hand, Smokescreen

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Get Tequendria in print now

I've just launched the print edition of Tequendria - the roleplaying game inspired by the works of Lord Dunsany. You can buy it here.

If you're already familiar with the game you will notice the updated cover by Ivan Bilibin.

Tequendria uses Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying as its engine, with 20 character archetypes, all of whom can cast spells, and everything you need to play.

Buy the book today

Sunday 1 October 2017

Djinns of Tequendria

The Vunsa Mystics speak of the songs of the elders, songs of which were collected inside lamps with rosewater and whispers from dying sultans. Left for centuries the concoction grows sentience and becomes a djinn.

The People of Loz, desert nomads in the Cyresian Dunes are the current keepers of the sole djinn who now walks the world - Anthopon. The giant red humanoid acts as a defender and guide for the People of Loz, leading them through the desert in search of the Gates of Al Karthook, the entrance to the promised land where the gods play their harps and rivers run with sweet wine.

But Geeta of the Vunsa tells travellers of the azure lamp in which Zarta resides. This is supposedly buried away in the dreaded Theth, Realm of the God Spider. On Hlo-Hlo's mountain of treasures the azure lamp can be found. Only the most foolhardy thief would descend into the dark of Theth and choose to face the God Spider.

Djinns are technically demons - in that they are otherworldly spiritual beings. However this doesn't mean they are evil. Their disposition entirely depends on the kinds of song created it. They are intrinsically magical beings who will serve any who releases it from its prison for 500 years. If their master dies beforehand, the next in the bloodline becomes its master. After five centuries the djinn will become a free agent, doing what they will. There is no known free djinn.

Lvl 7
Type: Demon
Aggression level: Aware
Action: d10, Wits: d10, Ego: d8
Hits: 7d8
Attack: d10+3 (Sabre d8)
Defence: d10+3
Spells known: Enchant Weapon, Create Fire, Magic Shield

What's that rain?

There are two varieties of rain in the real world: regular and chocolate. Let's look at some other rain effects for your fairy games.

1. Undeath rain - seeps into the ground to raise hungry corpses.

2. Tree growth rain - the roots lap it up and the trees grow twice their size and start to whisper secrets of the area to anyone who will listen.

3. Doom rain - get this on your skin and feel paranoia and impending doom.

4. Manic rain - the harder the rain, the harder you laugh. You might keel over and choke. Hilarious.

5. Bee rain - this rain is bees. Millions of bees.

6. Monk rain - makes people turn silent. Literally, they cannot make a sound with their mouth or body. Not even clapping.

7. Hunger rain - the drenched feel famished. They must eat. They might even eat each other.

8. Corrosive rain - all armour begins to corrode. All skin and flesh melts away. Bone too.

9. Phero-rain - your skin is soaked in beast pheromones. You attract beasts of that species. This isn't necessarily a good thing.

10. Brain drain rain - you begin to forget. At first it's the little things, but then it's where you're from, your earliest memories, even who you are.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Observations from first edition Tunnels and Trolls

I've been having a re-read of the first ed of T&T and have come across some interesting stuff that I hadn't really noticed before.

  • The GM is called the Dungeon Master. I suppose this makes sense because up to then there was no other term for it.
  • Player actions are supposed to be relayed by one person on behalf of the group called The Voicer. Yep, one person leads the group and speaks for them.
  • Dungeons aren't drawn - they're 'dug'. I love this.
  • Magic-users (not wizards) can change into warriors. However, they lose all experience.
  • Misogynist is a monster type
  • If a monster reaches less than 10 con, players can enslave it temporarily until it revolts, or they can use magic to permanently tame it.
  • A Thompson machine gun has 16 dice
  • Magic-users are always the last to be hit in a combat
  • Supermarkets are built outside every dungeon
  • Monsters can go berserk

Tuesday 26 September 2017

New T&T podcast - Werewolf Blood

Tunnels and Trolls is kind of on the roleplaying fringe. A tonne of people have heard of it, some may have even played it, but there's very few people actually talking about it. There are at least a billion OSR podcasts out there and nothing for T&T (I attempted once, but failed to keep up).

Thankfully one Peter Seckler has launched Werewolf Blood, a podcast all about Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls. It's just released its second episode (the first was a short intro), which you can find here:

Put Peter's delectable tones adjacent to your eardrums (along with some sweet bluesy riffs). I order you.

Sunday 24 September 2017

New dwarves

The dwarves only came into being by accident. It happened when Thren, the god of dark places, was slain by his treacherous brother Fiyal, god of hidden things, for rule over the darkness below. In the battle, the blood of Thren and Fiyal mingled in the flames of volcanic magma, cooling and solidifying. This shimmering rock became known as the Dwarrimstone, the birth mineral of the dwarves. One by one they clambered out of the cracked stone, squat, grey beings with lava in their blood. Fiyal, looking upon his creation, realised that he had an army at his disposal who could help him take on his final target of dark domains - Pella, goddess of the underworld.

Fiyal gave them the gift of the everforge, allowing them to craft metals into things unimaginable to the brightworlders above. They wrought cities from iron, great temples of steel and even clockwork beings to become their servants. It would be a millennia before they were truly ready to descend into the underworld and fight the groaning dead, but it would happen for Fiyal imbued it in their holy text - The Writings of Descent.

The dwarves (or dwarrim in their tongue) have a fiery temperament to go with the fire running in their veins. In fact, it's common for a dwarf to rage for hours, their eyes glowing yellow while they destroy structures and tear limbs from their own. This Molten Rage has become a problem in dwarf society, with those prone to it being locked in The Shell - a huge iron maximum security prison.

Dwarves do not have magic. Fiyal ever had a distrust for magical things as it tends to reveal hidden things. It is the domain of the brightworlders, so he taught his people the ways of craft and engineering instead.

Because they are literally made partially of lava, dwarves do bleed it. A decapitation causes a small volcanic eruption, and although it does little to harm the dwarves, brightworlders should stay clear unless they wish to be burned.

While dwarves are hairless beings, Fiyal's beard is iconic and holy to them. As holy garb they clad their faces in iron masks moulded with great beards in honour of their god.

Dwarves cannot and do not eat. They instead must inhale ash on a daily basis to maintain energy levels. Many use a special smoking pipe for this called a longshallow (describing the structure of the pipe).

Saturday 16 September 2017

Further thoughts on MetaArcade's Tunnels and Trolls Adventures

I wanted to create a separate post to talk about stuff I'd like to see in the Tunnels and Trolls Adventures app.

First off - a shop. You end up getting a bunch of loot during your adventures but nowhere to spend it. Potions and rations that increase your Con wouldn't go amiss here.

Magic. Currently you can only create warriors, which makes it simple to run a solo - wizard solos tend to require a magic matrix, which could be a bit fiddly, I guess. But the option to be a wizard or rogue would add some depth to the game.

Talents. While the T&T rules are fairly open with talent selection, selecting from a list to get a bonus shouldn't be difficult to implement and means that characters aren't similar. I suppose the only annoying thing for MetaArcade would be to programme where each talent can be used.

Illkin. Yeah, maybe it'll unbalance the (pretty unbalanced) game, but let me be a minotaur already!

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Automata kindred for T&T

Well, what can I say? I can't refuse a request from Kyrinn S Eis, can I?

There are two kinds of automata kindred: magical construct (or MagCon) and extraterrestrial.


This automata was forged in fire from iron and given a spark of life from a wizard (and less often, a rogue). They are bulky humanoid beings that clank and creak when they move. They are powered by a magical crystal in their heart called the Vostrum.

Attribute mods: ST X2, DX x0.75, INT x1, SP x0.5, CON x1.75, WIZ x0.5


This automata came from somewhere 'out there'. Nobody knows how they were built and by whom, but it is known they run on a strange viscous fluid and have an organic beating heart. They are sleeker and less haphazard than MagCons and their voices are smooth.

Attribute mods: ST X1, DX x1.5, INT x1, SP x1, CON x1.5, WIZ x0.75

Automata abilities:

- they don't sleep. Ever
- they can detect heat signatures through 1ft of wall
- spending an hour analysing a written language allows them to gain a rudimentary understand it. However they cannot speak it. This extends to 5 hours for the language of rare kindred
- they do not need to breathe

Automata for T&T

Despite the lack of technology available to the people of Trollworld, deep in the strange corners of the world machines do exist. Some are dreamt up in the fever dreams of mad wizards who fashion iron into nightmare constructs, while others awoke in the subterranean landscape inside the silver craft that plunged into the planet a millennia ago.

Automata are robots - some running on steam and gears, others on magical crystal cores, and some on actual souls. Automata are not to be trifled with.

Servitor Automata
MR 40 (5d+20)
Spite: 1/1
Special: The Servitor goes into emergency mode of its master is harmed, firing a laser at one assailant on its turn. The target makes a L3SR-DX or suffers 2d6 Con damage. Once used, the laser must power back up. Each round roll a d6. On a 5 or 6 the laser comes back online.

Servitors are a staple in the steel magician's abode. They clean the premises, water the plants, take care of the toddlers and often sort out the paperwork. While they aren't bodyguards they do have armaments and will try to kill anyone harming their master. Otherwise, they are pretty placid.

Octoid MK III
MR 84 (9d+42)
2/ pocket rocket: a small heat guided missile is fired at one target within 100ft. They must make a L4SR-DX or take 2d6 Con damage.
3/ stranglehold: rubbery tendrils target 1d6 targets within 60ft, wrapping around their necks. Targets take 3d6 Con damage and cannot move in the next round.
Special: The octoid will attack anything moving. It is blind if you stay perfectly still.

Octoids are alien beings who reside in underground spacecraft which can be up to a few miles long. They are sentry automata, guarding their ships with extreme prejudice. They have a single lens in the centre of a bulbous head and eight long rubbery arms that can rip the heads of multiple targets simultaneously. They run on a purple fluid that, if drank, increases INT by 5 for 3 days.

MR 48 (5d+24)
Spite: 2/ soar: the snekker take flight for the next round and can only be attacked by missile weapons.
Special: Snekkers have heat vision, able to see the heat signatures of warm blooded creatures through 1ft wall from 100ft.

Snekkers are sleek silver humanoid automatas from the Therian dimension. They are completely sentient, intelligent and dangerous. With retractable wings, they are able to hunt from the sky and the ground, making them terrifying foes.

Monday 11 September 2017

T&T micro solo: Come, Come Into my Coven

This adventure is suitable for delvers with at least 30 adds. Ranged weapons can only be used in the first round of combat - it then turns to melee. No magic.

It has been three days since Vinnie hired you to take care of his witch problem. He spotted you glugging Dwarfmeister grog down the Pig and Muck in Gull and approached you about a job. Vinnie owns a farm out west and has lately been having witch troubles. First it was one, casting a spell here and there, then two showed up and now he's got a whole coven of the bloody things creeping around his land making newt-based mischief. It all came to a head when the buggers turned all his horses into adders and his poor wife got bit on the ankle. He asked you to take care of the coven.

You arrive at the farmstead as evening draws in. You scan the fields but see no sign of witches dancing widdershins and what have you. From your vantage point you see two possible places they could be:

Go to the dark wood - turn to 2
Go to the sinister cave - turn to 3


The ominous hoot of a lone owl sounds above you as you trudge through the murky wood. The very trees look like they would rough you up and take your wallet. Soon you come to a small hovel, sole spiralling from the chimney. Seems witchy enough.

Burst in through the door - turn to 4
Try lure the witches out - turn to 5


You head over to a craggy outcrop where the mouth of a cave waits, gaping at you. Lighting a torch, you enter cautiously, walking into the stone belly of the beast. Make a L2SR-LK. If you succeed, go to 6. If not, go to 7.


Mustering your courage you tell a battle cry and smash down the door. The hovel is a single room littered with all sorts of odds and ends. Petrified toads, a jar of something particularly evil and monkey's paw. However there's nobody around. You suddenly hear a noise coming from underneath an upturned glass. You see a tiny person trapped beneath it, hammering on the sides with their little fists. It's a boy, no older than nine.

Free the tiny boy - turn to 8
Ignore him and have a good rummage - turn to 9


You know full well that witches love the smell of delicious bacon. They can't get enough of it. You pull a few rashers out of you bag and waft them in the air. Unfortunately, you forgot that other things love bacon too, like the wendigo standing right behind you. The creature leers at you with its antlers and deformed monstrous face before charging. You must fight it. It is MR 32 (4d+16). If you survive you end up splattering its head all over the side of the hovel.

Burst into the hovel - turn to 4
Decide to go to the cave - turn to 10


You manage to quickly dodge the razor sharp spear that was heading towards your face. Looking back, you see a large humanoid mole with a scorpion tale. Mithids! You should have known. Two more appear out of the shadows. You just fight them. They have a combined MR of 56 (6d+28). If you reduce them to 20 con, the remaining ones will flee. If you survive, turn to 11.


You feel a spear pierce your back and you fall to your knees. Behind you three large humanoid moles appear with scorpion tails. Take 2d6 con damage. Within moments you are strung upside down over a roaring fire, the creatures flailing and chanting beneath. The day isn't going great, let's be honest. You feel yourself lowering and the heat getting intense.

Try wriggle free of the rope - turn to 12
Try swinging clear of the flames - turn to 13


You lift the glass and the boy lets out a tiny cheer. "I am Roy," he says, as if on helium, "My father is the farmer here. You must make a potion to turn me back. I know the ingredients for the one that shrunk me, but I don't know the remedy. I'm sure you can figure it out though. The original potion was: a vole, a cockroach and a sparrow." You look at the ingredients to hand.

Cat, calf and eagle - turn to 14
Ant, spider and rat - turn to 15


You don't have time to speak to a small child in a glass. Instead you start rooting through the stuff in the hovel. Make a L1SR-LK. If you succeed, turn to 16. If you fail, turn to 17.


Night has fallen quickly and darkness is all around you. You get the sense you're being watched. Out of the darkness you can make out several shapes. Four crones wearing tattered black dresses reach out to you with pale, withered hands. The witches have found you. It's time to fight. They have a combined MR of 60 (7+30) and if they roll three sixes you are momentarily petrified, losing half your adds for that combat round. If you defeat them, turn to 18.


You tear one of the Mithid's tails off and ram it into its face before dispatching another. The remaining ones flee, squealing into the night. Exploring the cave further you find the remains of several delvers. One is carrying a glittering sword (3d+3). Another wears a Ring of Frost Fist. This conjures a giant fist made of ice once per day that acts as a 9d weapon. You loot the bodies and leave the cave. Turn to 10.


You kick your legs frantically, trying to loosen the rope. You can feel it slacken, so you continue. At last! Your feet are free, but you are plummeting towards the fire. You are at once engulfed in flame, never to emerge from the cave again.


You use your body to swing away from the cloying smoke and burning fire. The Mithids shriek, watching you try to escape. One throws a spear, missing you and catching the rope sending you tumbling onto the ground. You quickly get to your feet and flee out of the cave, spears whizzing by your head. Soon you are in the dark field, far beyond the evil cave. Turn to 10.


You throw the disgusting ingredients into the bubbling cauldron and make a viscous stew. Grabbing a ladle, you scoop out the brown mixture and feed it to the boy. The a pop Roy becomes normal size again. "Thanks for your help. But those witches are still out there," he says. You nod and tell him to run on home - you'll take care of the witches. Turn to 10.


You concoct a grotesque green mixture in the bubbling cauldron and feed it to Roy. He begins to grow and doesn't stop. His skin becomes blackened and scaly and his mouth stretches into a maw riddled with ivory teeth. The roof of the hovel bursts open as the Nightshade Dragon opens its wings. You must fight it. It has MR 68 (7d+34). If you defeat it you leave into the night. Turn to 10.


Under a pile of clothes you discover a pair of purple tinted glasses. Wearing them allows you to see what someone is really thinking in a situation. You chuckle and leave the hovel. Turn to 10.


As you rummage you accidentally knock over a vial of liquid. It shatters on the ground releasing a noxious gas. You find yourself changing physically. You are now a golem. Your attribute modifiers are as follows: ST x1.75, DX x0.75, INT x 0.5, CHA x 0.5, LK x 1, SP x 1, WIZ x 0.5. Seeing yourself in the mirror you let out a shriek and flee the hovel. Turn to 10.


You leave the pile of witch corpses in the woods and rest up in the farmstead. The next day you are woken by Vinnie, who thanks you for ridding his farm of the witches. If Roy is alive, he pays you 400gp. If he isn't he pays you 200gp.

Review: Tunnels and Trolls Adventures by MetaArcade

The best roleplaying session I've ever played was a Tunnels and Trolls adventure (it was one of my own published adventures, not to brag). I have an affinity with the game - it's the reason why Trollish Delver exists. So it's taken me a shocking amount of time to get around to playing Tunnels and Trolls Adventures by MetaArcade.

The app allows you to purchase and play several solo adventures - a hallmark of the T&T system, including classics like Naked Doom and Buffalo Castle, along with more recent entries like Grimtina's Guard and The Seven Ayes - the latter being shorter adventures. While Naked Doom is free, you have to pay to play the others, either by spending hearts, which give you one play, or buying the modules outright with gems. Alright, it's one of the few apps that I'm cool with pay to play, but considering it costs the same to buy a bunch of gems as it does a bunch of hearts I have absolutely no idea why you'd buy hearts since the gems give you the full adventure forever. Bizarre!

Thankfully MetaArcade has kept the ability to use the same character between adventures, levelling them up and gaining treasure as you go. When you begin you have access to a handful of pre-made characters, but you also have the ability to create your own using the usual T&T rules that can result in either really weak or ridiculously strong characters - I love it. Levelling is also kept the same, gathering adventure points for every creature you kill, saving roll you make and adventure you complete. Oh, and even if your character dies, you keep everything. For me, this is a little too lenient - I prefer permadeath, but that's just me being a sadist.

I've played through all but one of the solos on the app - although I have played the remaining adventure as a physical copy. Each contains some great art from a mish-mash of artists, including perennial favourites Liz Danforth and David Ullery. This is really old school art, much of it black and white and most of it lovely. Not only do you have the art, but the app also has some great atmospheric sounds that match your situation - so if you're standing in a tavern you will hear the din of chatter and the clanking of glasses. This is a nice touch.

I'm hoping MetaArcade keeps adding new solos to the mix because it won't take you long to get through the existing ones. All in all, I'm impressed with the app, but I think being a die hard T&T fan does help. If you fancy some T&T action, but can't be bothered cracking out your books then this is a nice diversion - especially if you're on the move.

Sunday 10 September 2017

OSR micro solo: Ancient Sorceries

This is a micro solo adventure for OSR games. Stats for roll under and over rules are given.

Beyond the Dun Barrows of Akthania where the ghast kings dwell and further than the dread plains of Unreach where the Nevertribe makes its home lies the Husk Forest. Deep within the wood a stone temple has been left to the elements for over two centuries and it's history has become dust.

You stand before it, your mind still fractured by the horrors you have seen up to this point. Its crumbling grey pillars and haunted cavernous belly that resides just out of sight is both attractive and repulsive to you. But you have come too far to turn back now.

Its dim inner sanctum has been reclaimed by nature - vines crawl like fingers up broken walls, obscuring markings once made by worshippers here. A family of bats slumber in a dark corner and a skink darts across the stone floor. At the end is what remains of an altar, but fear prickles your neck when you see what rests on top of the structure. A perfectly preserved body wrapped in linen. It is a human woman, no older than thirty, but possibly hundreds of years old. Her face is pale, but it is noble and beautiful. In her left hand she clasps a silver sword and in her right a crystal vial containing an emerald liquid.

Take the sword - turn to 2
Take the vial - turn to 3
Explore the temple - turn to 4


Cautiously you lift the blade from her grip. Make a saving throw Vs spells. If you pass, you feel a vibration through the blade and drop it before it ignites into blue flame. If you fail, the sword ignites, you're covered in blue flame. You feel no pain, but you see an age into the past. You see the woman forcing a robed man to drink a green liquid. You see him change into a structure of horns, scales, and claws. You drop the sword. Lose 1d6 Intelligence points for the next 1d6 days.

The woman begins to rot away, leaving only a skeleton. The hand drops the vial, which shatters on the ground.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


You lift the vial of liquid out of her hand gently and inspect it. Make an Intelligence check. If you pass on roll under, or score 12 or more on roll over, turn to 6. If you do not pass and want to drink the contents, turn to 7. After you remove the vial from her hand, her body rots away to bones, causing her to drop the sword, which erupts into blue flame and vanishes.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


You brush the undergrowth out of the way to reveal faded pictures on the walls. A lake with a stone building in the background. Within the lake are beings swimming, monstrous things you wish not to have seen. As you search you find a wooden flute.

Take the sword - turn to 2
Take the vial - turn to 3
Leave the temple - turn to 5


The area around the temple is vastly overgrown, with willows looming over you like watchers. Moving behind the temple you find yourself in a clearing with a man-made lake. If you have the flute you may play it - turn to 8 but if you have the keyword Deep turn to 9. Or you may move closer to the water - turn to 10.


A sniff and a light taste tells you all you needs to know. Transmogrification magic. You can drink it by turning to 7. Otherwise.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


Your bones begin to crack and muscles convulse. You shriek as your skin becomes mottled scales and bone slides out of your head to form horns. Your hands elongate onto claws with webbing. Obtain the keyword Deep.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


You play a simple melody that flows in the air. You don't know what you're playing, but it feels right to be playing it. Within moments the lake's surface is disturbed. Emerging from its depths comes a amphibious being with vast horns, yellowed eyes and a sinister grin. The creature means to devour your flesh, so you must fight it.

Beast from Below
HP 15
AC 14 (5)
Attack: +4 (roll under 15)
Damage: 1d6

If you defeat the creature, turn to 12.


When you cast your bulbous eyes on the lake you feel yourself being drawn to the water. Yes, the cool water will feel wonderful against your scales. You submerge yourself and laugh with glee. You go down further and further. Soon you are joined by your own kind, swimming together for eternity.


You peer into the calm waters and could swear you just saw something move down there. A large shape growing closer. You back away and decide to flee this cursed place. The adventure is over.


You brush the undergrowth out of the way to reveal faded pictures on the walls. A lake with a stone building in the background. Within the lake are beings swimming, monstrous things you wish not to have seen. As you search you find a wooden flute.

Leave the temple - turn to 5


The beast lays on the ground in a bloody pool. You stand over the heap panting, black blood covering your clothing and face. You reach down and break off the horn, knowing you can get at least 300gp for it on the market. You walk away from the lake without looking back. This is where your adventure ends.

Thursday 7 September 2017

English Eerie

English Eerie is a game currently in development and due for release in time for Halloween. Why? Because it's real spooky.

It's probably a spiritual success to Quill - it's a solo storytelling game where players use a journal to create a horror story set in rural England. It's based around authors like M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, as well as English folklore and folk horror films. Think things like The Wicker Man, The Willows and Lost Hearts. Scenarios use an oppressive and creepy English countryside as the backdrop - where natural beauty is only a veneer that obscures the true terror of the land.

The idea is that you're given a scenario (there are 10 in the main rules) and you use the prompts in there along with a rigged deck of cards to tell a scary story with rising tension. Each suit is tied to a type of event, with each scenario offering inspiration as to what type of event that is. It could be a secondary character trying to thwart your progress by whacking you with a tyre iron, or you may uncover a clue that helps shape your story. When obstacles crop up, you roll a d10 against the card number to see if you successfully overcome it, using Resolve points to increase your chances. Failure leads to your Spirit diminishing - the end of the scenario dictating what happens if you do or do not have any Spirit remaining.

Everything that happens is told in days and written as journal entries by a flickering candle. So far playtesting has gone well and it's almost ready to be published. It will also have a POD version.

Sunday 3 September 2017

Thoughts on new Fighting Fantasy art

Yesterday I was at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2, which was a hoot. At the event Scholastic launched its Fighting Fantasy line, complete with all new covers and interior art. This is generally par for the course when FF gets a new publisher, but Scholastic is a pretty big coup for the franchise considering it's the biggest children's publisher in the world and had school-based book clubs. This in theory should put FF in front of a whole lot of kids, which is a fantastic thing.

Because Scholastic has to cater for a market of digital natives who are used to a certain style in their app games and animated series, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson have kind of told us older fans that we've got to give the new art style a chance, and I completely agree. We still have our Nicholson, McCaig, Hough and other FF masters, but according to Scholastic these artists' works aren't going to resonate with the kids today (I don't agree with this - I think kids want quality and cool shit as much as the rest of us).

So let's talk about the new covers first. The first phase contains: Warlock of Firetop Mountain, City of Thieves, Citadel of Chaos, Forest of Doom, House of Hell(!) And the new Port of Peril. Guys, I really like these covers - particularly Forest. They're bright and a little trippy. Sure, they look like they've come from a gaming app but that's the point I think (not to be cynical about it).

I can't comment too much on the interior art, because I've only seen snapshots of some books, but I did pick up a limited edition hardback of Port of Peril (interestingly with a bloody amazing McCaig cover) and had a flick through at the art. Let's just say it's not for me and I can't see too many current fans being enamored. It's all a little flat and cartoony - a complete departure from anything done before in the series. The paragraph dividers are also quite poor - 3D rendered greyscale treasure chests that look like they've come from a generic fantasy app.

I don't know how engaging this art is to kids nowadays - I only know that the art of the old green spines were a joy to me as a kid and part of the reason I got into gaming. The art has stuck with me for two decades because of the absolute mind blowing detail, gore, and wonder it conjured. When I look through Port of Peril I can't imagine the art really affecting anyone in that way.

I'll have a review of Port of Peril on the blog soon .

Top image: Scholastic

Sunday 27 August 2017

New elves

Elves, the common term used by the peasantry for the Elffumkin or 'people who hide'. They are creatures born from the earth's womb, brought into the world by the unfurled leaf of the Nurin tree when the moon wanes.

Each elf is connected through the earth through a psycho-biological network called the Root. Through this an elf can communicate danger to another at the other side of the continent. Because of this, all elves are intrinsically known to one another and so have no use for names. Instead they use symbols to represent themselves, beginning as simple shapes when they are young but becoming complex fractals as they age. They age like the tree, living up to 400 years.

Elves rarely venture from their hidden natural realms as few see the benefit. Some become envoys for the race, visiting the 'stoneworlds' as they call it, to meet with humans, halflings and occasionally dwarves.

There are several effects of an elf who is displaced from its natural realm.

- remaining in a place of little to no nature for at least a day causes shoots and saplings to grow in close proximity to the elf.
- the air around the elf smells like bark.
- animals are calmed in its presence and are drawn to it.
- fruit remains fresh as long as the elf is within 100 ft.

Elves do not use stoneworld crafted weapons or armour unless they have to. Instead, they may spend one hour digging in soil in their realm to pull out a simple wooden weapon or armour. Often this is a bow or blowgun, but the earth also provides some simple bladed weapons made of wood almost as tough as steel.

Elves can't technically 'see' in the dark, but they sense their surroundings almost as accurately as if they could, though they find it difficult to sense if they are moving at speed. Dark vision is reduced to 10ft while moving quickly or performing a strenuous action.

When elves die they rot in the same way a fruit would - becoming moldy, wrinkled and smelling of earth. Their blood is like sap - amber and viscous.

Saturday 26 August 2017

My game designing story so far - part five

For a while I'd been considering giving Halberd an overhaul. I'd gone back time and again with new ideas to update it, but each time I was left cold. I'd been reading a tonne of Dunsany so I thought about how I could integrate some of his magic into the game. Once I actually began writing the thing I realised that it was turning into a completely new game. I was updating the USR mechanics and overhauling pretty much every aspect of the game, so rather than make this a rehash of Halberd I decided it needed to be a game in its own right. Enter Tequendria.

To my mind Tequendria is the first game of Dunsanian fantasy, which I was absolutely shocked by. It was probably my favourite game to create too - designing those archetypes was a hoot.

By now I think I'd found my stride after all these years. I'd grown in confidence and was losing some of that 'oh everyone's going to hate it' neuroticism I'd previously harboured.

My next project was again one I'd picked up from notes. I love cyberpunk and I'd created USR Cyberpunk to see how refined a game like that could be made. But I took a look at In Darkest Warrens and decided to challenge myself to make an ultra lite cyberpunk game. This became Wired Neon Cities. Fully playable realised cyberpunk world in a handful of pages.

It had been over a year since Quill was released and I'd been going back and forth between a Lovecraftian project - Quill's first campaign. It's actually the first thing I ever wanted to do with the game because the genre fits so perfectly, but I'd never been happy with the mechanics and story. One time I thought I had it down and started writing a scenario with mi-go, but it didn't work out. Then everything seemed to click into place. Quill: Shadow and Ink was a challenge, but I'm proud of the story that came out of it and I believe it's set the standard for future Quill scenarios.


As you can probably tell by now, if you've read the entire series, I spend a lot of my free time creating. I go to sleep thinking about mechanics and sometimes dream about the games in my head. I have a stack of notes and partial projects which I dip into but ultimately if I'm not inspired then a project will fall off the radar. If I get to the end of a book and end up disliking it for whatever reason it's thrown into game purgatory.

I feel like my gaming journey is only just beginning. I see the amazing creations that are coming out of the small press at the moment and feel inspired. I'm fortunate to be part of a community that encourages each other and helps each other along the way. There's currently a bunch of them playtesting a new game that's kind of a spiritual sequel to Quill.

So thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me on my way so far. I have a tonne to learn and maybe in the next 10 years I'll consider myself to be more than a passable creator. Let's hope.

Friday 25 August 2017

My game designing story so far- part four

I was riding the high off Quill so I immediately wanted to create more Quill - people seemed to want it. I released the first supplement, Love Letters in time for Valentine's Day, but it wouldn't be for more than a year until I properly revisited Quill. Meanwhile other people were making cool stuff for the game. Derek Kamal released the awesome Coal and Parchment set in his Homes universe (novel and The Dig RPG). It was a cool time.

What's next? I thought to myself. Determined to burn myself out I started thinking about whether I could feasibly get a full game onto two sides of A4. More of an experiment than anything else, but one that worked out well. In Darkest Warrens became the first in my trilogy of compact games - one with OSR sensibilities without being OSR. Soon after I created Astounding Interplanetary Adventures, because I fucking love Flash Gordon.

Then I crashed for a while. I went back over my notes (I tend to keep teams of them - half finished thoughts, mechanics and concepts) and decided I wanted to get into the meat of the OSR. I'd been noodling with some mechanics that took the best parts of White Box, Black Hack, and 5e and got to work on developing those. Over a series of months I started writing and playtesting Romance of the Perilous Land, an OSR game based around British folklore.

Late 2016 I released it into the wild to generally positive reviews. It was my biggest game so far, so I told myself I deserved a rest. Did I listen to myself?

Not a chance.

Next time: Tequendria, Shadow and Ink, and Wired Neon Cities.

Thursday 24 August 2017

My game designing story so far - part three

I didn't stray from Tunnels and Trolls, even during my more experimental phase. The power team of Christina Lea and Tom K Loney created a Trollish Delver line of GM adventures through Peryton Publishing, with myself and Tom alternating between releasing T&T scenarios in my Peakvale setting. I must get back into that.

I was beginning to become interested in broadening my horizons and challenging myself. In 2015 I released The Village on the Hill, my first 'storytelling' game and also my first game aimed at families. I remember making the game being a peaceful experience itself - it's a gentle game and I'm quite proud of it, despite it being one of my lesser known ones.

You can probably tell by now that I love making games. It's a hobby that, at the time, was starting to bring in enough money to supplement my income. Continuing my delve into less traditional games I wrote Canary Overdrive - a game all about badass female cyberpunk superspies.

Throughout the years I had been making notes on a space opera supplement for USR. Towards the end of 2015 this would become Somnium Void - a rip roaring space opera with a mystery behind it. I think this is the first book I released that had some buzz about it and as a result sold really well (for me). This was the point where I thought - hey, I might not be so bad at this thing.

Beyond Fear came next - a Lovecraftian USR supplement, which I believe does lite Lovecraft very well. I'd like to bring out a new edition of this with full USR rules.

The beginning of 2016 was huge for me. There I was, noodling around with my notebook when I had the idea of combining letter writing and roleplaying. I scratched out some mechanics and started playing through, honing the game and realising - holy shit, this works! Quill was by far the most off-kilter game I'd ever created and something that I'd never seen before, except to some extent with Dr Profundis. Quill sold like hotcakes and people were actually talking about it. Quite a lot of people. Soon people were getting in touch wanting to create their own versions. It was nuts! Podcasts were talking about it, blogs were reviewing it, I was being interviewed - it was pretty surreal.

Next time: In Darkest Warrens, The Pulp Hack and Romance of the Perilous Land.

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.