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