Thursday, July 28, 2011

A twist on Ghosts

From Full Frontal Nerdity

But I have a twist on Ghosts,

What if a Ghost doesn't want you to solve it's great unfinished task? Be that its murder or some other crime. What if it LIKES eternal undeath? What if it doesn't want to account for its crimes in life and is pretty happy marauding the town in death.

Perhaps its unstoppable unless you can find and kill the ghost's murderer? The ghost will hinder you because it wants to continue existing and the murderer wants to hinder you because they don't want to die.

But the townsfolk? They sure are in a panic what with the ghost causing a trail of carnage. You'll first have to investigate who the ghost was, then find out who killed them, find said person and take them down. All the while both the ghost is trying to possess your body and a living person is out to kill you.

Just a thought..

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh what the hell

Zzarchov Kowolski took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 60%!

You are a Gary Gygax Myrmidon. You are mighty in the ways of Gary Gygax. You're probably a First Edition or OD&D player, and I wouldn't be surprised if you had an original copy of the Chainmail rules.

Paladin Code: You completed this quiz without using Google.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Small print run coming early

So my time table for my initial small print run has been bumped up. I will thus probably print a smaller print run (most likely with a few kitschy errors). This will be a very limited 0ed printing. Future printings will each be more edited than the last. This is because of a limited time offer with the binder.

If you would like to get a copy of this at cost let me know. I can pretty much guarantee that even if this sits on your shelf gathering dust, it will look good doing it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Unrelated Note: The growing madness

So as of Sunday the stars have aligned and a great plague will soon be unleashed.

I have now acquired Arkham Horror and every single expansion (including the new Miskatonic Horror). This takes up more than 2 dining room tables to set up. The number of tokens and bits is staggering; the sheer number of special rules and scenarios is mind bending. This will be the greatest horror ever wrought when I sit down to go through the entire thing.

Results will be posted.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

One of the upcoming changes in the PDF and Hardcover versions of Piecemeal

Just a bit of a teaser as I work on the next release of Piecemeal, which will be in both hardcover and pdf format.

One thing I have always wanted to differentiate between in terms of Thief/Rogue/Specialist skills and basic adventuring skills is climbing. Specifically the difference between scaling a brick wall with your finger nails and climbing up a rocky crag or heck even a tree. We have all seen (or heard of) games where the GM either stops anyone without the "Climb" skill from climbing a small tree, or where anyone can climb anything, except the thief/rogue/specialist often has to make a roll where no one else does.

Thankfully the modern lexicon has brought awareness of Parkour and Free Running. So I decided to hell with it, I would make it bluntly obvious. The Rogue power "Climbing" is being upgraded/generalist to "Parkour". While I realize Parkour is a newer invention it does serve as a good explanation of the general theme. When the character races across rooftops, scampers up brick walls and otherwise moves quickly in a way that the bumbling guards have trouble following.

The rules for this will include the current rules for climbing walls, but improved to also allow rooftop races. As always this will not be an activity all classes cannot be involved with, merely an activity that the rogue with this power is much better at.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stirring the Pot: Heartbreak and Heroines (A rant)

First off, I base my knowledge off the Kickstarter page, specifically this passage:

Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures -- saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It's a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.

You play a fantasy heroine (or hero, if you prefer) whose heart has been broken. She's experienced some loss so great that she's taken up her sword, her tome, her staff, or her wand and walked away from her place in society -- by becoming one of its defenders, fighting back the darkness that endangers everyone.

That is all I know for certain beyond seeing some people gripe about it, or praise it. It is being dubbed as "feminism" and "empowering to women". To me it seems like a cheap gimmick and causing controversy by dubbing about "feminism". Nothing in the post makes it seem at all feminist. The rules description I saw implied a nifty dice mechanic that really doesn't make Gender important. The heartbreak and heroines bit seems an obvious throw back to D&D (much like Mazes and Monsters etc). That is fine if a bit tacky, I don't see calling it "Heartbreak and Heroines" as inherently feminist, I guess the assumption is that specifically referencing a "Heroine" rather than "Hero" is feminist. I don't myself see why "Hero" should be the assumed default. As the blurb itself states you can also play a hero, it was just picking one gender version of the term for simplicity.

So what is it about this that is "feminist"? Are women less enthralled by the motivations present in D&D and more enthralled than men by heartbreak as a motivator? I personally don't see it, it kind of seems to be enforcing gender stereotypes (Men hate emotional motivations, women don't like aggressive sport style dominance power struggles, Romantic Comedies are correct! Men like bacon and women like fruit salad!).

Now don't get me wrong, this type of game itself (the motivations etc) will appeal to a lot of people, but of both genders. It will also seem dull to a lot of people, of both genders. This could end up being a very feminist game, but thus far I am not seeing it. I see a concept for a potentially good game mind you, just nothing that actually involves gender politics. This reminds me of LotFP in some ways. Controversy as free publicity when I don't think anything really controversial really takes place.

I hope that like LotFP, it ends up as a high quality and successful product.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who else wants a hard cover copy?

So the cost per book will be somewhere around $25-30 bucks a pop with my first printing. This will cover everyone who has contacted me already with a few extra copies for me. However if anyone else would like a copy I will ensure you have one at cost + shipping. I am not looking to turn a buck here. If a bunch more orders come in it may drop the price per book down, though I honestly have no idea what kind of demand there really is beyond what I have already budgeted for.

If there is demand for copies of the book after the fact it will be delayed until I can get at least 11 orders in one go (minimum order size to get the best realistic price). If you have serious interest in paying $25-$30 for a book with probably another $8-$10 for shipping: let me know ASAP. All I can promise you with the book is that I love using it, and I am designing it to be a piece of art.

You may notice I am not making a very hard sell, that is largely because when I count in time to get get it printed, mailed off etc., I am taking a loss per book. But I do think you will truly enjoy owning a copy if you do use many of the rules you have found with this site over the years.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Start a business or not?

So very soon I will be putting out a hard cover copy of Piecemeal. I am not interested in doing this for profit, honestly I could just pick up an extra contract to make more in a weekend than I could ever hope to make with a fantasy heartbreaker.
However I also do wish to make it possible for those who wish a copy to purchase one (including subsequent small printings) to do so. This would require the ability for one to be able to send me money to cover the cost of printing and shipping. I really don't want any extra paperwork than needed (I am not looking to make a profit here) so keeping really detailed accounting records is a headache. I also don't want to use a PoD service like Lulu because I am making this as a piece of art, thus I want to really strongly control how it is printed.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a low key way to handle this? I am Canadian if that matters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking for Character Sheet Designers

I am moving forward with Piecemeal and getting close to its release and printing. But one thing I do want to get done up is a better looking character sheet. I do have functional character sheets but I would be interested in procuring a nicer looking design. If anyone knows someone I could reach out to, please let me know.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Moving along to the polished release

So I have put together a rough draft of Piecemeal for editing and final checks. I have gathered all of the artwork I am looking for and gotten quotes for the printing and binding.

My Goal is to have printed a small run of books by early August. There will also be a PDF version of course, as I think that it is both useful and cheap to have Kindles, Kobos or Tablets around the game table. But for a nice luxury I will be printing a small run of hardcovers. If you have interest in acquiring a hardcover copy please let me know.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Achievement Unlocked!

One of the things I have been working on lately is "Cheevos" , a blatant rip off of video game mechanics. Of course I've also done video game work so I don't see that as a bad thing, as long as you know the impact.

So I have been working on Achievements! These are rewards (currently I am looking at putting out cards) earned by completing various acts. Each Achievement will have a benefit (either one time, expendable or passive), an act required to gain it, a scope, and a set of descriptive tags.

Before I get too deep into the layout of achievements, I should stress the point and it falls onto the last mention, the descriptive tags. Achievements utilize the best in passive aggressive technology to help a GM steer a sandbox campaign into having a theme or tone. Achievements are thus a form of meta gaming without forcing a move into railroad or story gaming (though they can be used in that as well). The Achievements are something laid out to all the players at all times, these don't work if players do not know all of the Achievements and all of the ways to gain them.

Example Achievements:

The Frasier
Benefit: Cash in to re-roll a die
Requirement: Roll a 1 on a d20 where 2+ is success
Scope: Game Session
Tag: Light-hearted OR Epic

The Frasier Crane
Benefit: Once per game, re-roll a d20 result of 1.
Requirement: Roll a 1 on a d20 where a 2+ is success, then re-roll it and get a second 1.
Scope: Character
Tag: Light-hearted

Benefit: +1 to all saving throws
Requirement: Have your character sacrifice himself to save the party
Scope: Campaign
Tag: Dark OR Epic

Benefit: Cash in to dictate the result of any die roll or set of die rolls.
Requirement: Buy Pizza and/or Beer for the entire table
Scope: Player
Tag: Light-hearted OR Damn Leech Players

So what does this mean? The name is just a title, the benefit is what you gain from the Achievement. The requirement is likewise self explanatory. So we'll dive into Scope.

Scope involves how long a player can keep the benefit. The following are currently planned scopes:

Game Session - Until you leave the table tonight
Character - Until your current character dies
Campaign - Until you switch campaigns
Player - Any time you play under the same GM

Tags are not purely descriptive; they do have an impact. When the GM is trying to run a campaign with a specific theme or tone, he should specify those tones and themes. Only Achievements that match those tones and themes are available (including already awarded Player achievements).

A final note is that Achievements are a first come first serve. If Bob gets "the Frasier" and 20 minutes later Tom achieves the same conditions he gets squat (unless Bob already cashed in the Achievement and put it back in circulation).

What is the goal? Rather than trying to force characters to act in a certain way, you set out a nice spread of carrots for acting in the way you wish. They can ignore them all, but they are there as 'encouragement'. Note these can things that also act as teaching methods for new players. If you want a wilderness exploring adventure for people used to story games, throw down some Achievements for wandering into a new hex, or building an outpost or whatever you wish to expose players used to the "plot-wagon" to.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Looking for paid playtesters

Hey there! Are you looking to make a pittance? Sure you are! who doesn't want to use up large amounts of their leisure time on my behalf to acquire an amount of money named after the root word of "pitiful".

I am looking to get a few groups of gamers to give Piecemeal a try as written and report back on what was broken, what was missing and what plain doesn't make sense. If you are interested, and can wrangle a group of players together, please let me know. entire pittance could be yours..all yours!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Moving away from an electronic format

For quite some time, years, I have been publishing piecemeal in an electronic application. This has been due to convenience for use with online games, and the presence of laptops and netbooks at the game table. For my own personal use its been a great success.

However, as technology advancing told me "don't go with a print edition" and "a pdf is not a printed book" so too must I now reverse that decision. I knew this point was coming with Kindles, iPads and other tablets, but what really got me was the Kobo. In the Piecemeal executable I have used black background and a lighter text, since a computer monitor is not a piece of paper. White is blinding as a background. The Kobo's greatest feature however is its ability to change that, they have found a way to make black text on a dull background look like paper. The lighting on the darn thing is perfect, I didn't believe it was one when I first saw it.

And as these things get cheaper and cheaper(the cost of a gaming book itself), I must look at making an e-reader compatible version. When I have that, I will probably make a few print copies as well for the hell of it.

One thing I am learning from this is the amount of "dust bunnies" that have been accumulating throughout the rules. References to things now removed in far flung corners, things I immediately see are clunky and need fixing. I also am remembering how much layout sucks on a pdf or other "page based" system with limits of what fits on a page, of fitting in artwork and the limitations of word 2000 (I don't upgrade some things very often). This is not something I am experienced with at all and I will have to learn a lot of new skills as I go.

So the next release of Piecemeal may be awhile, but I am determined to make it e-reader suitable. I would like to thank Tim over at Gothridge Manor for his help and advice thus far.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Magic Mirrors - Who are you really?

And now for something completely different:

The newest game I am running has begun with an idyllic valley secluded in the mountains, home to a community of the Amish. These Amish folks retreated here 120 years ago and collapsed the mountain path behind them to avoid an apocalypse. This meant everyone had to play a human (this is a fantasy game).

However I didn't want to straight jacket everyone, combined with I am a jackass. As the valiant heroes explored an elven ruin they came across a room full of mirrors. Now every player knew this was a shitty idea, however: every player also gets rewarded for taking extra risk for style and adhering to trope. This is the benefit of the fate system. But, on to that later.

As they looked into the mirror I asked them a set of questions:

Is your character a red head?
Does your character have green eyes?
Is your character a twin?
What is your character's Magic score modifier?
Does your character have any weird physical quirks?
Does your character have any unique traits (worth 2 points)?

I added up the totals for each person and had them draw from a deck of playing cards, one at a time until they reached a face card (J,Q,K, Joker) or the total number of cards.

If they drew a face card, I checked the list. They were secretly a changeling and upon looking into the mirror they saw their true elven form.

KD: Astral Being
QD: Trickster
JD: Pixie
KS: Troll
QS: Hag
JS: Goblin
KH: Forest Lord
QH: Dryad
JH: Nymph
KC: Ifrit
QC: Marid
JC: Djini
Joker: You are just an illusion, you were never real. If anyone ever stops paying attention to you,or if you are ever alone, you disappear forever.

Two of the players ended up being a elf, one an Ifrit (two cards drawn) and one a Nymph(a single card drawn). But one character, who had to draw 6 cards? nothing.

It was a neat gimmick.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Morale System: Leadership and Fervor

One of the other changes made in the latest version is to the two morale related bard and priest powers. More or less their original attempt to make morale more important was ditched and they were rewrote to give a new benefit.

Why? Because I could not get a non-clunky morale system and because players therefore never really got involved in big combats where morale was important. So rather than have two big "Coming Soon!" useless powers I went with more traditional abilities.

The bard's leadership is passing the muster as a kind of "synergy" ability, letting the bard use skills of his followers to give a bonus to his rolls. Not amazing, but strongly useful.

Fervor may be changed again, right now it is adding a fairly high defensive bonus to presence while the priest is nearby. This one of those powers that benefit the whole party so I can see it growing on people as "Reputation" has for bards. Tweaking and better wording to deal with weird cases will be the majority of the changes made.

I do need to find an integrated morale system though, one that uses the same mechanics already in use. To elaborate: I don't want a mechanical quirk where if looking at how they otherwise perform a character should be a great leader, but instead sucks because morale is its own mini-game so to speak.