Monday, 2 December 2013

Ironic Writing

I am the Warden!!

Before I get started, I've been experimenting a bit with the opening tagline. My "pregnature," if you will. Tried capitalizing the "the" in the Warden and didn't like it. Too smug, not my style. I'm humble with exclamation marks!!


After two weeks away from the word processor, I was finally able to fire off a couple of entries for an upcoming project. And it felt goooooood. Under normal circumstances, I'd use this opportunity and your current attention to go into detail about what those entries are and for which project. It's part of the process and something missing from my regular activities (and I must apologize for that).

But there's a catch. For a couple of months now, I've been working on an unannounced project I can't talk or write about. Not because someone's life is at stake and if the kidnappers find out I squealed, they'll kill Victor for sure. No. It's simply not my project to announce or discuss. (So yeah, it's not a Broken Ruler project.)

So here I am. Following a routine from conception to writing to blogging and kinda hanging myself on the last part. All I'm doing is wasting your time, right? Wow, what was I thinking?

I've been itching to share something about [secret project] for a while now, especially after receiving some concept sketches this past weekend. Those very sketches forced me to plant my arse down in this chair and getting cracking, dammit! If for no other reason than to provide assurance of my involvement in something. I've been firing off about a lot of potential projects on this blog, some of them brought up earlier than I would normally reveal to provide relief when I wanted to talk about this one. With this new job, I've had to reduce my design work to a single project at a time (in a manner of speaking) and [secret project] was it.

Hence I've reached a dilemma: how to tell you about [secret project] without breaking my promise to [secret publisher]? Maybe - just maybe - I can avoid breaching my agreement and instead tease you with subtle, non-specific revelations. For now, I can leave you with this icon to indicate the system. The rest will depend on time.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Real Decisions

I am The Warden!!

Yeah, it's been pretty quiet around here for a while, hasn't it? If you haven't been following me on Twitter (maybe even Facebook or G+), you'll know I started working at a real job two weeks ago. And seriously, if you're reading this and not following me on any social media… c'mon!

In fact, I'm at work right now, but the networks are down (ahh, that familiar feeling) and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to post something I've been wanting to write about for days. The fact that I've been wanting to post this for days is just a prime example of the reason for this post. Taking on a real job has been incredibly demanding.

First off, the job itself. As the Graphic Designer/Social Media Specialist (yep, I tweet for a living now) for Calabogie Peaks Resort, I am responsible for all graphics and online content produced for this ski resort. On their own, either aspect of the job would occupy a full 8-hour day, but together makes for a crazy learning curve. The design hurdles are similar to many other places: learning where files are kept, how they are processed, learning to reflect your employer's values in your designs, and more are all here and more. There are many other side projects and committees on the go that I am involved in, including one for the new website design and working on developing a revised strategy for those handy little monitors you see in many resorts today.

Now let's get to the Social Media Specialist aspect. Um, there's never been one here before. It's building up a social media presence from (almost) the ground up and that's a full-time job on its own. After a couple of weeks, I've been able to develop a three-phase strategy for getting our social media presence as a strong representation for the resort's customer service and sales force, a process that will take months, if not a year, to reach full effect.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Juggling It All

I am The Warden!!

Recent events have really put a strain on many of my previous plans, but in a good way. For the past three years, I've had the unfortunate luxury of too much time to work on damn near any RPG project I wanted. What started with the final days of my Emerald Press work in D&D support became Broken Ruler Games and lead to nearly six ongoing projects waiting to be first to the finish line. Optional Core, Killshot Files, Wildpath, Fenga, and a couple more that have either never been mentioned or is not yet ready for an announcement. 

Now, I'm employed. And going to school. This seriously changes my output for the next while, yet I'm really glad it's working out this way. One, a little stability at home is far more important as my wife is busting her pretty little butt on her own school work. As cool as it is to have some cash coming in for Killshot, it's not even close to providing anything other than some online movie rentals and PDF purchases after covering all my core expenses (domain name, stock art for Killshot Files, etc.). 

Two, all of the work done over these past couple of years was an exploration into my potential and understanding of game design. I've learned a lot about my skills, the industry, marketing, and more that there's a solid ground for me to stand on now. I know what worked and what didn't, providing a stronger starting point for all the other projects on my plate. What remains standing as the smoke clears is an ability to cut through the hiccups and incertainties of before and get straight to work. 

The question is how to give all these ideas the time and devotion they need to either reach their endpoint or fold if the project loses its appeal. There's no doubt I won't be able to juggle as many projects as I could before and my new work will certainly occupy a lot of my attention and there's a (currently) top secret freelance project hogging that time. It doesn't mean the other projects will sit by the wayside, just that they've been paused. 

Juggling projects is like buying movies from the $5 bin. You grab it because the flick is a steal and you're excited to watch it, but that doesn't mean you get around to it right away. These projects will remain on my shelf; it's a matter of when I get to play them, not if. 

So if you've been reading this blog and there's a project (or two or four) you're tuned into, feel free to give me a little poke every now and then. I'll do my best to try and keep them on my plate without spinning onto the floor. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Next Step

Behold the splendour of Calabogie Peaks!
This is not only the general location of where I'll be working,
but the very building where I'll be plugging away. 
I am The Warden!!

Anyone who's been a regular reader or occasional peaker may know it's been a while since my life was normal. A good career with a stable income and the ability to life a healthy life were both out of my reach for a time. It's been an uphill struggle, but it all comes to an end today. 

This morning, I was offered the Graphic Designer/Social Media Specialist position for the Calabogie Peaks Resort and Conference Centre, a year-round outdoor heaven for skiiiers, golfers, hikers, and more. It isn't something I've mentioned on this blog before because I intentionally kept it to myself. When I discovered the want ad for this baby, I knew it had to be mine. Not only would I be able to use my newly enhanced graphic design skills before graduating, I'd get to tweet/post/blog for a living. Gee, doesn't that suck? <end sarcasm>

There's still paperwork to review and I'm not scheduled to start until the 14th (the previous two days will find me in Hamilton for some unwanted, yet required, follow-up tests), but this job is in the bag. And the best part? The true reason why I got this job? 


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Through the Video Shelves: 28 Days Later

I am The Warden!!

For no particular reason, I felt like throwing on the DVD of the classic "zombie" flick, 28 Days Later. After picking it out, it dawned on me this was my first movie on the shelf. Now, when I say "my first movie," it should be clear there are some movies in our collection that are primarily for my enjoyment. For reasons, I cannot understand, my wife will not watch this movie. The only way it's going to play on any TV in this house is when the missus is studying or sleeping. So when she fell asleep on the couch last night... bingo. In fact, with her school work, this could be the start of a movie-watching marathon. Go through all my movies in alphabetical order. 

Then I had another thought. My blog posts have been slipping lately. Perhaps this could be an extra project to get my ass back on the blog. It's not gaming related, that's for sure, but are we really so particular that a man writing about the cool movies inspiring his games and their designs cannot simply do so because... well, just because? I didn't think so. 

Here we go: 28 Days Later

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

I Now Pronounce You... Fenga!

I am The Warden!!

We have a habit of tweaking games in my house. Sure, sure, here's how the game works according to the regular rules, that's great. Maybe for the first play just to give us the overall idea of how it's supposed to work. After that, we need to find a way to make it something more our speed and style. It's something my wife and I have done long before we met and it's become one of the bonds uniting us. Sometimes, I think the discussion and debate on revising our games is the majority of the fun.

And what madness did we concoct over the weekend. Fenga! No, no, not "Fenga." Fenga! With gusto.

It's simple, really. It's Jenga played with Fudge/Fate dice. Build the tower as usual and remove 3 pieces from the top. Set them aside. Determine the starting order for the game as per the usual Jenga rules and the every player rolls 4 dice on their turn.

  • Every "-" is a piece you have to remove from the tower. Set it in the pile. 
  • Every "+" is a piece from the pile you must add to the top of the tower. 
  • Every blank means you don't have to do nothing. 

Otherwise, everything else works exactly the same as the original wood piling classic. For a game that can already be incredibly suspenseful, adding in that random element of how many pieces you have to pull and place on your turn really ramps it up a notch. Oh, and to try it as part of Dread? There's only one way to find out.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Graphic Designers vs. Graphic Technicians

I am The Warden!!

During my recent job hunting, I've been looking at two fields: retail management and graphic design. The first is more out of experience (I used to be a retail manager for close to eight years) and availability, but it's the second one that truly has my interest and attention. Graduated and trained as a graphic technician back in 2007, I started a 1-year online graphic design course back in June to update my skills with the latest versions of Adobe as well as pick up a few extra tricks to make myself all the more awesome. (Hey, this is job hunting. Confidence is right up there with wearing nice pants.)

Run back over that sentence again. I'm already a graphic technician and am now taking a course in graphic design. So what's the difference? I'm glad you asked because it's come up quite a bit over the past couple of years and I wanted to take the time to address it.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Building A Dragon

I am The Warden!!

(Apologies in advance for the excessive blank space and image placement in today's post. For some reason, none of the pictures will align left or right, so everything has to go in the centre.)

It's the sixth week of Illustrator class and that means final exam! In the three program-heavy, shortcut-learning courses provided in my Graphic Designer program, the sixth week is the last one set aside for a final practical assignment kept secret until the student successfully completes the previous five weeks.

For my Photoshop assignment, it was the hybrid blending of two real world animals. Remember the owlbear?

My Photoshop final assignment - an owlbear on its way to a forbidden castle,
thinking about all the adventurers its gonna eat. 
(Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure if I've ever shared this on the blog. If you're not following me on Twitter or anything else, this is my final exam for Photoshop class. An owlbear, merged together from falcons - they have better beaks for a creature this size - and a grizzly bear.)

Monday, 7 October 2013

Enter the Caves of Chaos, Kids

I am The Warden!!

The Practical assignment for Week 5 of my Illustrator class was an 11"x17" poster for a real or fictional event and it just so happens I've been meaning to design a poster for my upcoming D&D games at the local library. After a few modifications to suit the demands of the assignment and the detail I needed to get across for new players...


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Moving Forward With Wildpath

A rough "logo" for my latest project and likely
the first foray for the Wildpath System. 
I am the Warden!!

Sure, it's been three whole days since the Development Team drove up to the 'Frew for some playtesting and nothing's been posted to brag/moan about it, but I have a really, really, really good reason.

I wrote a new game using the same system. My bad.

Thanks to the two playtesting sessions (including the LUG Con game mentioned in my last post), both of which had two players and a Director (myself), I'm extremely confident this is a workable game. While I'd like to conduct some more testing and up the ante on this one, the results have been positive enough at this point to consider what to do with everything as a viable product.

Asylum was written using the Wildpath System, but I'm not completely sure that particular concept is the best approach for a wider audience. As a story-slash-RPG hybrid, the potential audience is limited. Add to that my current limitations in publishing (AKA no in-store distribution at this time) and the pickings could be a bit slim for Asylum. What this system needs is a bigger launch under a wider banner, something that will appeal to a larger number of fans in either genre.

Sidebar. One of my favourite tools in the ol'laptop is Evernote because I can jot down ideas as they come to me and reference them in a handy list with keywords. Plus I can access and add with my phone when I'm on the go, such as a couple of ideas jotted down during the dog walk last night. After going through my list of ideas-on-pause, I found one that just might suit the need.

DAY 1 is a survival game, as is Asylum, save for one important detail: players take on the role of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary moments of tragedy, such as a massive flood, terrorist attack, or any siege lead by giant monsters. This game is about telling the story of people caught up in extraordinary moments as they attempt to survive the first day. While there's nothing to stop any story from advancing into the second day, the first week, or an entire year, it's designed to act primarily as a one-shot game you can repeat over and over again with different situations and characters every time. After drafting up close to 5,000 words for Day 1 on Saturday night, I think it's time to give this one a run. I'm planning to run it for my Development Team later this month, hopefully with all four members.

In the meantime, feel free to have a read and get a feel for more of the Wildpath System and Day 1's first draft. There's still another section to cover with regards to establishing a dilemma, building a group, establishing connections, and so forth, but I think there's enough here to get the point across. If you have the time, let me know what you think. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Revealing the Mysteries of Asylum

I am the Warden!!

What a great weekend. After a little thing called my wedding - and thanks to everyone's congratulations over the weekend - there was some gaming to run at this season's LUG Con. While I was only able to run one game in particular, I'm very happy it was Asylum solely because it was finally getting a run at the table.

For those who may have missed it, Asylum is the game conceived and drafted during a single week for EN World's 7 Day RPG Creation contest thingy back in May of this year. While it didn't win any beauty pageants, the mechanics really stuck in my head and I've tweaked them since that time and gave it a run for its money on Sunday afternoon with the help of Brian and Jeff. They play convicts freshly delivered to the island known only as Asylum. Their neighbours? 198 other convicts who have started up the Contest in an effort to become the last living resident and win a ticket home. In other words, it's a bloody massacre in a can and I'm the can opener.

Have a peak for yourself and let it play in the background while you work. The mechanics are fairly simple (especially in contrast to my earlier work) and I'm very pleased with how this game turned out. If you want to skip the video and learn more about it, just check out this earlier post about Asylum.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Down To The Core, Part 3: Containing the d20

This is a gif of my favourite d20, Big Red.
And now I'm facing the dilemma of not using it
in Optional Core. 
I am the Warden!!

After two weeks of intense hair-pulling and stressing out over some of the most complex school work experienced to date, it's finally time to return to the world of game design. While I do have quite a few projects on my plate, there is the matter of how to incorporate the d20 into dice pools for Optional Core.

Last time I wrote something for this series, I addressed the problem of dice pool sizes and how the make the d20 fit this new model. Back in the good ol'Killshot days, it was entirely common to roll anywhere from 6-8 dice in a single roll, attack or defence. It worked just fine for the style of the game - not crazy fast-paced, but strategic and cautious. For Optional Core, speed is of the essence, but the system is still based on the Optional System powering Killshot and one of those fundamentals is the use of dice pools. Considering the issues addressed last time, that leaves me with one invaluable question to finally answer...

How many dice will provide the perfect balance for Optional Core?

I put this question to members of the Optional Core community two weeks ago and the general consensus was 4 to 6 dice per roll was a good average. I'd agree with that, though I'm trying to lean more towards 4 dice as the baseline for your average roll. Problem solved, right?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A Playtesting Triad

I am the Warden and these are my new projects!!

With Killshot's ENnie safely escorted to its new home, perhaps it's time to start looking to the future. Again. Don't get me wrong, it's not the end of Killshot. My plan is to have Killshot Files #2 on virtual shelves within the next week or two, but there's more swirling around in my cranial vortex than assassins and bloody violence. There's espionage and bloody violence, storytelling and bloody violence, and quick-play action (with a chance of bloody violence). 

I have three concepts in various stages of assembly at the moment, each of them vying for top spot on the playtesting radar. Two of them should be no surprise to regulars, one is getting as close to an official announcement as can be made, and all three need to be tested. While I will most definitely have my award-winning Development Team try them out in various stages and at various times, these guys have regular lives and their own games in the works. That means I need to broaden my horizons privately before trying to go public with them. 

So here's what I'm looking for and doing so does not imply either of these projects will ever see the light of day (though Optional Core certainly gets preferential treatment because of its wide potential). Each of the three concepts is presented below in one paragraph to varying degrees of detail. If you see anything you like and want to playtest online, post a comment below and I'll add you to the list. 

Here we go. 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

When Games Are Not Stories

An example of the animus slipping past the sight of
local guards in Assassin's Creed. If only it worked as
well in the game.
I am the Warden!!

Today is a day off to recover from the Return of the Torn Throat. Yes, I'm aware that I'm writing on my blog, so for argument's sake, this is not work. Seems that strep throat wasn't cured after all and has come back with a vengeance. After three nights of very little sleep, my mind was worn down and unable to complete a coherent thought. The majority of the afternoon was spent on the couch playing Assassin's Creed (which I picked up for $10 a couple of weeks ago and haven't been able to play very often until now).

As I write this, I'm knee deep in the middle of the first true assassination in Damascus and loving the fact that it takes place during the Crusades, something I read about extensively back in my post-college days. The graphics are amazing and the controls are very intuitive (assigning each of the four core buttons to the four limbs on the animus' body - head, hands, and the feet). Plus, the idea of playing an assassin sounds fun. Not sure why.

But there's a problem. I'm having a hard time investing myself into this story. It started the first time I saved a citizen's life and escaped from a pair of nearby guards to the roofs of Damascus. Easily making my way to the curtained roof garden, I ducked and covered just in time to remain out of sight... and watched as these "professionals" searched everywhere except the most obvious hiding spot in sight. "Bah! I've got better things to do," one decries and back they go to their post.

Really? (sigh)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Well Cut Me Open And Fuse My Ankle... They're Gonna Cut Me Open and Fuse My Ankle

I am the Warden!!

Three years after the initial accident and the original surgery, I'm going back under the knife. In the 961 days since that fateful moment, the nerve damage has made my right foot unstable, unreliable, and extremely painful with incalculable frequency and it's time to fix it. Or to try something else that may hopeful ease some of the pain and burden.

I'm currently scheduled to go back under the knife on October 11th (AKA Canadian Thanksgiving weekend) to fuse my right ankle, along with some other attachments, the removal of the original metal plating and screws, and the insertion of a pair of new screws leading from the base of my heel into my ankle. While this will severely limit my foot's mobility, the idea is to reduce the impact of the nerve damage running through the top of my foot. It's not a guarantee by any measure and the new surgery will have the same follow-up results as the original: no weight bearing on the foot for 8 weeks after the surgery and rehab. This time, however, there shouldn't be any need for a wheelchair because there are no other fractures complicating the matter. And more importantly, it's my choice, not a forced reaction.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Gaming With Icons

I am the Warden!!

Since the last time I wrote about Optional Core, I've been wondering how to present a quick-play system as quickly and efficiently as possible. Poking around throughout the RPG marketplace, I found myself checking out some in-progress work for icons by Chris Tregenza and his card-based RPG system, 6d6 (as well as a few others I forgot to bookmark). It's an approach to game presentation that's picked up speed recently, with D&D's 4th edition and Fate Core as the most prominent examples. Over the past week, I've been dabbling with some icon designs for Optional Core and they're now ready for public sharing and input.

Friday, 2 August 2013

A Year of Killshot

I am the Warden!!

Yesterday, I posted the sales results for Killshot after a year on the shelf. Today, I'm looking at those results from a game designer POV.

As a publisher, it's my decision that Killshot is financially successful, but only by a small margin. While it's currently in the hole by $121, that's easy enough to make back over a few more months if things continue on a predicted course (meaning the attention from last month slows down exponentially until it dries up again by the end of the year). While it's not a profit, it's not a loss either and in independent publishing, that's pretty good for a first time at bat.

Regular readers and Killshot fans will know I've been knee deep in putting together a sequel to the game, Killshot Reloaded. With this kind of information in tow, especially when combined with the ENnie award (which is a HUGE factor compared to the same time last month), I need to make adjustments and decisions about Reloaded, how it will be designed, and how it will be released. Plus it's handy for other project down the road as well, especially with Optional Core.

The thing about Killshot as a whole is that it was one big experiment. Everything, every single step in the process, including design, was an experiment to analyze for future projects. How it was released was another step in the experimentation and these numbers provide some crucial facts on the success and failures of that experiment. Here's what I've gathered.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Down To The Core, Part 2: All These Dice

Just like its older sister, the Optional System, this new version
uses dice pools to settle arguments and conflicts. 
I am the Warden!!

It's time to get to the nitty-gritty and talk about how to construct this system. Along the way, I'll be talking about some of the fundamental from the original Optional System and will try to explain these concepts and mechanics along the way. For additional information and insight into how the original system works, feel free to pick up the Pay What You Want version of Killshot (you don't even have to pay anything for it, I don't mind).

Before I can put one solid word on paper, there's a serious hurdle to overcome in Optional Core's construction: dice pools. It's a staple of the original Optional System, where players and Directors build up a dice pool from various attributes, modifiers, gear, and difficulty levels to roll against each other, a facet that will remain in Optional Core. Here's a bullet point list of the key points for dice pools in the system's previous incarnation.

  1. All dice types are assigned a group category detailing their source, or reason for use. All d20s are base dice and represent the luck of the draw outside of everyone's reach; d12s are focus dice to represent every character's basic training and versatility; d10s are circumstance dice for outside factors manipulated by the characters (such as modifiers); d8s are option dice assigned by the individual option used in a dice roll; d6s are trained skills for everyone's skills; and d4s are bonus dice just because everyone needs that extra push now and then. 
  2. Each dice group is limited in when it can be added to the roll, with the larger groups (base dice, focus dice, etc.) being more frequent than the smaller ones. In other words, every roll uses at least a base die (d20) while bonus dice (d4s) are few and far between.
  3. All dice explode. When you roll the highest number on that die, you can roll another one and add to your running total. 
  4. When your base dice explode, you gain a training point. You can use it to increase your experience and training between sessions or cash some in for immediate benefits, such as bonus dice. 
  5. As a campaign continues forward, characters can increase the number of dice available in their individual stats, focus, skills, etc. and increase the size of their pool by spending their training points. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Down To The Core, Part 1: Construction Begins

I am the Warden and this is my 200th post!!

In times gone by, I've made a point of marking these milestones with a review of the previous 49, 99, or 149 posts before. Over the past few weeks, I've been juggling back and forth between carrying on with tradition or forging a new path. There's a lot to talk about over the last 49 posts, from the Kickstarter to the ENnie award, but my mind is looking forward once more and the ideas are far too fresh to get caught up in the past. Today, I want to talk about the future of the Optional System and the evolution of the Optional Core.

I've used the name "Optional Core" before to describe a planned project where Directors could create their own customized version of the Optional System and provide an open system for use in multiple genres, settings, and styles. In a sense, that has not changed, but the application is currently undergoing significant revisions. My original plan was to keep working on these revisions privately and without making a fuss out of it, but we are talking about a special milestone and this blog was fundamental in the creation of the Optional System and Killshot. Denying that fact is denying my creative process. AKA why fix what's not broken?

Remember when I talked about quick-start adventures as a possible product line? Optional Core would be that product line and the system powering it. A kind of condensed and simplified version of the original Optional System from which each adventure can expand and amplify as needed. Existing primarily as a series of quick-start adventures, it could also exist as a series of free, promotional rulebooks for willing and/or experienced players to take the rules beyond the game, create original characters, and expand the adventure into a full-on campaign.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Game Times & Learning Curves

Think, think, think, think.
I am the Warden!!

For a few weeks now, I've been pondering the difficulties of introducing a new game to the masses, particularly when those masses have a massive pile of games from which to choose. There's no disputing the flexibility of a group depends on its age - younger players with fewer mandatory responsibilities can invest more time into learning a new RPG versus their older counterparts with many obligations to fulfill before fun time can even begin. Back in my high school heyday, tackling Advanced Dungeons & Dragons wasn't an issue because we were playing at least 30 hours of roleplaying games in a single week. Today, it's nowhere close to that amount (and that's with fewer responsibilities than most other players and GMs my age - no kids and no job.)

Is it really that simple? While it makes sense in one degree, something about "older players don't have as much time to learn new games" sounds like a scapegoat because if there's one thing social media has also taught us, it's that older players still make time to read new games. On bus rides to work and during frequent downtimes set aside to catch up on casual reading, learning a game from its core rulebook doesn't carry the same demands as actually running a new game for the first time.

Reading a game and playing it can be two dramatically different things, something I learned when I first starting running the Marvel Heroic RPG. Scouring through the book, I was floored by what I was reading and made three passes through the core rulebook just to ensure I had it down. When it came time to drop dice with players, I had a hard time keeping up with certain aspects (but that's a reflection on my limitations, not the rules). And that's why games have house rules.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Bringer of Doom

I am the Warden!!

Yesterday was an offline day for one specific reason. I had a giant stack of loose papers - legal documents, old projects, assorted receipts, and more junk than I thought I could hoard - in an old filing cabinet. What I needed was just one and since I had to tear through the cabinet looking for it, seemed only fitting to sort and collate them once and for all.

While I found what I was looking for, I also found a lot more. Old projects and adventures never intended for publication. Not only that, but there were typed. On a typewriter. (Now that I think about it, they were probably written on the typewriter secured down in the basement. Whoa! Maybe I am a hoarder.)

Titled "The Bringer of Doom," it's an introductory AD&D quest for the Planescape setting. The heroes gather themselves in the town of Clearsky for an annual tournament when suddenly there is an explosion in the sky and a horde of demons and planar monsters stumble out to ransack the town. Complicating matters is a giant force field surrounding Clearsky, trapping everyone inside until the heroes can hack-and-slash their way to the culprit and save what remains of the town.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Kill... No, Wait. PAY What You Want

I am the Warden!!

To mark the ENnie Awards nominations and Judges' Spotlight awards announced today, I'm moving ahead with a new pricing plan for Killshot through all OneBookShelf sites. Effectively immediately, Killshot: The Director's Cut and Killshot Files #1: Blaze of Glory are both Pay What You Want. It means exactly that: you can pay as much or as little as you want, including free.

There's never been a better time to pick up this now award-winning RPG of action, investigation, and strategy. Now there are no excuses.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that the original link for The Director's Cut would not work with the PWYW model because of the POD option. It has since been fixed and there is now a separate PWYW version of The Director's Cut. The original is still available for traditional PDF and POD purchases. 

Killshot Gets the Nod

I am the Warden and Killshot: The Director's Cut will be receiving one of five Judges' Spotlight Awards at this year's ENnies!!

I just finished posting about it on the BRG site, so you can read the formal reaction there. Right now, I'm about to give my personal reaction to this nomination... I mean, award.


I'm stunned and keep clicking back to the nomination page to make sure there isn't something I'm missing. More importantly, that this isn't another nomination. It's an actual award, a point of recognition specifically set aside for Killshot and four other exceptional products by an individual judge who felt it deserved merit.

So here are the thoughts racing through my head this morning, all of them trumping my original work schedule for today.

1. I cannot give enough thanks to everyone for their support with Killshot since it all began on January 2, 2011. From the very first crack at the Optional System with my good friend, Kieron, to today, all of you have been incredibly supportive and eager to find out what's next for Killshot. I think it's safe to say this award means she's not done yet. Not by a long shot.

2. I need to get to Indianapolis. Holy shit, I need to get to Indianapolis. Double holy shit, I don't have a passport.

3. You know when actors are nominated for Oscars and at least one of them tells the story about how they found out when other people started calling to congratulate them? Yeah, that's what happened here. I slept in past announcement time (hard time sleeping upstairs in such extreme heat) and when I turned on my phone just before 10AM, it started beeping and whistling that I thought my phone pulled a fire alarm. Most mornings, I take the dogs outside for business, brew coffee, feed everyone, and take my phone and coffee on the back step to read and go over my plans for the day. Right now, I'm sitting with a luke warm and completely full cup of joe and my laptop on my lap (how ironic) because there's far too much typing required from a phone.

Once again, incredible thanks and praise to everyone who's supported Killshot, BRG, and my work over the past couple of years, to all the nominees who have helped the indie RPG industry shine, and to my darling wife-to-be how sat up in a half-dazed sleep trying to figure out what I was saying when I jumped on the bed to tell her the news.

Think I'll start with a fresh cup of coffee. There's lots to do today. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Reloaded Black Box

I am the Warden!!

Before we get started today, what do you think of the new presentation? Maybe it's the graphic designer in me rising out of the ashes, but I wanted to revise this blog's visual appeal a couple of notches and make it easier to read. There are still a few tweaks to make here and there (I'm not overly satisfied with how this layout adjust to the mobile format), but it's a vast improvement from before in my book.

Now to the actual topic of the day: analyzing the wreckage that was the Killshot Reloaded Kickstarter. Trust me, I've been pondering on this a lot and there are two major issues developed from this project so far.

A Question of Impact?

I'm quite satisfied with the Kickstarter's reach and the numbers collected (other than the lack-of-hitting-a-goal thing). Here's what the stats say.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Rough Ideas: The Interrogation

A suspect being grilled in the interrogation room
from the game, LA Noire by Rockstar Studios.
I am the Warden!!

There's a strange thing that happens in the creative mind. Defeat doesn't dampen it's spirit, but makes it stretch its muscles and try again. While I was initially thinking about going back and touching up a few older concepts (such as the Wildpath System devised for the EN World 7-Day contest a few months ago), something else has arisen to occupy my time. For now. 

I've been playing a lot of LA Noire for the past month and what I love (though I'm not very good at it) are the interrogation scenes. Reading facial expressions and holding people to direct evidence in a quest to obtain the truth and find the guilty party. Absolutely love it. Interrogation scenes can make for some of the best moments in a great series or movie (the best being those from the original BBC series, Cracker, with Robbie Coltraine) and I suddenly found myself wondering how to design a focused game for just such an idea. 

The first thing you need to eliminate is any abstract mechanic for handling lies or intuition. While I'm sure one is possible, what I'm looking for is a challenging game of deception and mystery where an abstract mechanic, such as dice rolls, assists rather than informs. In other words, players have to think their way through this game. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Good, The Bad, and the Surgery

I am the Warden!!!

OK, let's cut straight to the chase, shall we? I have no idea where to start, so I'm going to list the three things going on right now in the order implied by this post's title.

The Good: There's a new column that launched on the Troll in the Corner blog yesterday written by yours truly. "The Games of Wrath" is not about games that piss you off so much as it's about remaining a part of this passionate hobby without draining your wallet (or even taking anything out in the first place). It's a great opportunity to help get my work and my name out there (because that's what it's all about), particularly in combination with the Under the Hood column that runs every Sunday on Roleplayers Chronicle.

The Bad: With less than three days remaining, there's still a sliver shy of $1400 to raise for the Killshot Reloaded Kickstarter. Or the last 47%, if you look at it from another angle. While many of the backers, assassins, and good friends across the Interwebs have been incredibly supportive, I will be very surprised if this sucker makes it past the finish line. Does that mean I've given up? Nope, not yet. Come tomorrow, I'm planning on pimping the shit out of this project and give it up last good fight. Why not right now? Then let's cut to the last snippet.

The Surgery: I've spent the majority of the day today meeting with my orthopaedic specialist, going through the X-ray routine, and having professional pull on my busted foot like it was a gag at a bar, but it's not for naught. After nearly a year of tests (mostly waiting for the tests), the specialist's made a decision and has decided surgery is the only possible option to lessen the pain by restricting the amount of motion in my foot/ankle.

So here's the thing. The Good and the Surgery are all great news (with bigger emphasis on the latter, to be honest), and the Bad is very unfortunate but not tragic. It was always a possibility and, as I wrote in last week's post, not the end of Killshot Reloaded by a long shot. For the first time in a while, my personal life has started picking up steam while my freelance career has taken a backseat.

Life. Go figure.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Thought on Scale

I am the Warden!!

For those of you paying attention to my struggling Kickstarter, you can imagine I'm feeling disappointed. That's not to explain my lack of Video Updates over the past few days, the majority of those were due to prepping and planning for the LUG Con games run over the weekend. (If you haven't had a chance to check them out yet, you can find them on the BRG YouTube page.) As for this morning, I have to admit that I was sitting at my desk ready to fire off another recording session, but didn't have the want or will to do it. It is a bit frustrating to see something you've planned on for close to two years come to a halt.

And then I remind myself that this is not the only way to publish. Killshot came to be its current inception because of Kickstarter, yes, but that is not the only way it would be possible. The same goes for Reloaded - it does not need a Kickstarter to become a reality, but the current version did depend on it to make the process simpler and less risky. With signs and indications this is not going to happen, barring an incredibly generous benefactor, I've begun to think about a Plan B approach. Then a Plan C.

When I first started to get last year's project ready and posted, I was given an ominous warning. "Not all project make their goal, but that doesn't mean they fail." I've been keeping that sagedom to heart over the past few days as I've begun to stand back and study the black box. What I've been coming up with has grown beyond the mere reach of this particular project, but to the very heart of how I've been conducting business.

Is it possible I'm trying to hard to reach for something that's beyond my grasp at the moment?

By that, I mean the concept of publishing a 250-page volume designed to create a campaign and indulge the gaming pleasures of countless others the world over. Am I asking too much of myself and the few regulars aware of my work? It's a question that goes beyond Killshot and it's something I'm quite seriously considering. Is it possible that I need to try something a bit "smaller?"

In this context, smaller does not mean less. It means slighter in scale. Rather than publish an entire core rulebook for a new system, should I be focussing on single adventures and supplements? Right away, the knee-jerk reaction is to work on open licensed material from other publishers and designers, but that's not why I created BRG, no sir. The Ruler is for completely original material, particularly in game mechanics, so that's forbidden. Now the question becomes "How do I publish 'smaller' products without playing in someone else's puddle?"

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true question. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Waiting Game

I am the Warden!!

Running a Kickstarter is exactly as my friend and fellow game designer, Jason Pitre, once said (and I'm paraphrasing here). "It's like going to a month long convention. You meet lots of great people, talk about games, but when it's all over, you just want to crash." Yep.

The Killshot Reloaded Kickstarter currently teeters precariously on a thin ledge. With the thirteenth day coming to a close, it's currently $58 behind schedule (we need to bring in at least $100 a day to make our minimum goal of $3000) and my nerves are twitching like there's an electrical current running through my body. What started off as a rewarding and encouraging launch (over $600 on the first day), the running total's only climbed by roughly $800 in the twelve days since and that math does not bode well for this project.

Add to that a couple of problems/ego crushers to add more current to the voltage that is my nerves and it's a wonder I haven't started chain smoking again. (In my defence, I have been smoking irregularly, so maybe it's safe to say the pressure's taken a slight toll on my willpower.) On Sunday, during an update to the Kickstarter, I found out that the domain name for BRG was no longer valid and when I started looking into it, my password was no longer working. That lead to a panic and after an hour of scrambling to figure out what was going on, I learned there's a cost to having web problems on a Sunday. No one's around to solve the problem. At this moment, I still have no clue why the renewal didn't go through because I set it up with Google directly. There are no people working at Google, only codes and lines of programming and they don't speak human. With all my advertising spouting the website "" and that very domain name connecting potential backers to a lovely picture of a young, blond student next to a list of alternate possibilities, the timing is the very definition of poor.

And not but an hour ago, I found out my work on another unrelated project has been replaced by someone else's efforts after reading about it on a public announcement on Facebook. Ouch. I haven't heard a peep out of the project lead, even going so far as to check my spam message looking for anything. There was also a link to the new edit and after watching it, my ego has taken quite a kick in the groin.

But you know what? That's the game, kids. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can't handle third degree burns, stop putting your hand in the BBQ. For every major defeat, there is a minor victory to improve the odds and make it appear that you're on the right path. For me, it was this link.

You hear me, Kickstarter? There's still 17 days remaining to meet my goal and this project's not dead yet.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Eh-Team: How One Playtester Played Killshot With His Kids

I am the Warden and this is the Eh-Team!

The who? You know, the Canadian edition of that popular and cheesy action TV series from the 1980s.

I received this email from Brandon Neff, my longtime friend and playtester, who was looking for a way to play Killshot Reloaded... with his kids. What resulted became an homage to the kids' favourite show on Netflix and I couldn't help but share them with everyone. With stats provided by Brandon, I've taken the liberty of transplanting them onto official Killshot Reloaded character records for your group to try out in their next playtest. You can read Brandon's account of how they played the newly provided Dealing Justice job (available to all backers of Killshot Reloaded) with a twist.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Next Step Begins! The Reloaded Kickstarter Is Live!!

I am the Warden and this is my Kickstarter!!

That's right, Killshot Reloaded is up and running and already sits at 20% of its goal ($3000). The past eighteen hours have been a whirlwind of relief and reward and there's still 29 days remaining on this bad boy. According to Kicktraq, the project is due to hit 318% of its goal (just over $9500), which would allow me to not only publish Killshot Reloaded, but include a special appendix for ninja magic in the Way of the Killshot theme, support Killshot Files for another year, publish a 64-page supplement for one of the themes, provide a job for each of the five themes, yet fall just short of the Savage Worlds edition of Killshot.

Add to that this absolutely glowing review of Killshot: The Director's Cut from Megan Robertson at DriveThruRPG and it may be safe to say this project is going to meet, exceed, and obliterate expectations.



So the pressure is on, folks. Check out the Kickstarter video below and feel free to start clicking away. Make your vote for the Stand Alone Theme stretch goal (see Bonus Objectives for details) and let's reloaded this game.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Overwhelming Odds

I am a very sorry Warden.

To anyone who attended CanGames over the weekend and planned on checking out Killshot, I want to offer my sincere apology for canceling at the last hour and bailing on the con. Which brings us to today's topic. 

For the past couple of years, I've been mentioning some of the difficulties inflicted by the accident, but never went into details or hid behind the ongoing legal action to avoid getting into details. I think it was a way for me to avoid confronting these disabilities directly or admitting to weaknesses that have turned out to be a larger obstacle than I had anticipated. Or maybe I thought it would clear itself up in time and things would return to normal. Unfortunately, I have to admit none of those are the case and if I want to make this work, honesty is better than vague messages and there's still a chance this could happen again. 

Here goes. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Why Facts Don't Have Time for Traditional Print

I am the Warden!!

In my previous life, I worked in print media, an industry that has been struggling to sustain itself in the face of growing technology. While I'm of the belief that traditional print will always exist to one degree or another, it's very hard to make my case when the industry itself is constantly shooting itself in the foot. Having worked on the inside, I've seen the panicked reaction of employers and managers determined that if they simply hold on for a while until this "trend" blows over and it's the wrong reaction.

However, that's not the only issue anymore. On Monday, there was massive panic and public reaction to the report that a 10-year old girl was almost abducted in broad daylight in the middle of town. A description was announced on the radio and local police were scouring the area looking for this individual. On Tuesday, it was announced the suspect was not real and the girl made it up to cover for the fact that it was bullies at school beating her up.

I'd like to show you Thursday's edition of the local paper.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Learning From Failure (AKA Not the End of Wildpath)

I am the Warden!!

A winner has been declared in the EN World 7-Day Design Contest and it's Daughters of Lear, a storytelling game placing players in the role of actors putting on a play with, I'm guessing, heavy Shakespearean influences. Asylum didn't even rank within the top 8 of nearly 40 entries and received only 5 votes (or 6, if you count my own vote).


Don't get me wrong, I have no regrets about investing the time in creating Asylum or the Wildpath System behind it. First, there's still a chance Morrus will want to publish it if he found it to his liking and saw potential in it. Second, there's loads of potential for Wildpath. I may have sold the rights to Asylum, but a system is not bound by such rules and there's no mention of it being called Wildpath in the submitted text.

If you haven't had a chance to take a look for yourself, it's available through this link now that the contest is over. Let me know what you think, what works, and what doesn't. 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Asylum Needs Your Vote!!

I am the Warden and I approve this message!!

The voting has begun for EN World's 7-Day RPG Contest and it wraps up on the morning of May 13th, so start clicking, convicts. Asylum is up against 38 other competitors (a hefty field), so there's going to be a lot of material to cover. There's only one way to make this simple: vote Asylum as your top choice and pick two other worthy contenders as your remaining three selections. Or vote however you want. What's important is that you vote. It's not like it's a federal election or anything.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

7 Days: Asylum Is Complete!

I am the Warden and... phew. Hold on, I just need to catch my breath. It's been a busy week.

Ok, here we go.

I am the Warden!!

Asylum, my entry in EN World's 7 Day RPG Design Contest, has been submitted before the deadline will be ready for your vote. Because I promised to get off the computer over an hour ago, I'm going to keep this short and simple. If you want to know what Asylum is all about, go here, and you can go here to learn how the mechanics work.

This was an absolute blast to put together and I'm looking forward to Game Chef in just a couple of weeks. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

7 Days: What Is Asylum?

I am the Warden!!

On Tuesday, I shared with you the foundation and core mechanics for what I call the Wildpath System, a storytelling device where players roll Fate/Fudge dice to build actions, reactions, and difficulties. I also stipulated that I wasn't going to share anything about the game itself - Asylum - unless there was a demand in the form of at least 5 comments/shares of that post.

Well, I think it's safe to say those conditions were met and then some. I've received some great feedback from fellow gamers out there, both friends and strangers alike, and even caught the attention of the contest's head honcho on EN World. So let's start talking about Asylum, eh?

I can describe it to you in two words. Violence and survival.

In Asylum, you and the other players are convicts sent to a deserted island in the middle of nowhere by the various Kingdoms of Thrane to live out your dying days. Once home to an ancient civilization wiped out by an active volcano, this island now houses the unwanted and undesired elements of society. Combining murderers, bandits, crime bosses, and the innocently accused all in one place, Asylum is a stewing pot of anger and misplaced retribution.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

7 Days: The Creation of the Wildpath System

I am the Warden!!

Regular readers are probably aware of the heaping plateful of responsibilities on my plate at the moment: Killshot Reloaded, school, video editing, launching a Kickstarter, even some ongoing plans for Optional Core, but it seems all that was just not quite enough. What can I say? I'm a sucker for lost causes.

Over the weekend, I posted a note on my bulletin board titled "List of Regrets." On there are two entries: NaNoWriMo 2012 and the D&D Next Character Sheet Contest. Both of these are contests or tryouts I wanted to invest time and energy into completing, yet never did. Why keep account of such failings? Because it's how I motivate myself to add less and less to the list. Every time I add something to the List of Regrets, I feel motivated to keep something off its ruled lines of damnation.

So when EN World announced a 7 day RPG design contest, I latched onto the idea and neurons started charging up. At the very least, my entry is accepted and potentially published if Russ likes what he sees and finds potential in it. At best, I stand to pull in a much needed $1000, meaning that only thing I stand to lose is skipping another entry on the List of Regrets.

I wanted to create an original RPG that could work within 20 pages, including character creation and setting material. That meant foregoing the standard RPG mechanics (unless I wanted to use an existing system, which I did not) and trying something simpler than my usual work. Going over various notes recorded into Evernote, I found some rough concepts for a story RPG system where players do not roll to see if their action succeeds, but rolls to determines how many times they get to take over the story in a round.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Why Am I Attacking That Guy?

Insert yo broodmama jokes....NOW!!
I am the Warden and I hate video games again!!

Back story. For the past couple of months, I've returned to the world of Dragon Age. Electronically, that is, in the form of Dragon Age: Origins for the Xbox 360. It's not my first time, but I've enjoyed it immensely more than my first time out due to two simple factors. One, elves aren't the glorious immortals made out in every other fantasy campaign known to existence. And two, I'm a rogue.

Yet last night's events have threatened to derail my efforts to finish this fucking game once more by striking at my weakest point: reminding me that it's a video game. During all three efforts to take on the infamously nippled broodmother (pictured above), my elf rogue continuously changed his mind on who he was going to attack, wandering off to get into some bizarrely accurate position against a tentacle or approaching shriek and throwing my entire plan of attack on its arse. Which is exactly where all my party members ended up, except dead.

I'm not sure if it's a glitch in this particular skirmish or intentionally done to complicate matters, but it broke the veil of fantasy and reminded me that I'm holding a controller in my hands and the commands and options presented are only limited to the decision put forth by the creators of the game. It's not the first time it's happened to me during a video game and it always leads to my dismissal from the game's presence, but this one was personal. I thought we had something, Dragon Age and I.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Name Recognition and Kickstarter

I am the Warden!!

After reading fellow OTGD Fraser Ronald post about his Kickstarter endeavor on the Black Gate site yesterday, this particular paragraph caught my eye, travelled along its corneal pathway and began feasting on the cognitive processes of my brain. In this post, Fraser's comparing his success to the success of another OTGD member, Jason Pitre, and his Spark RPG Kickstarter.

Compare the success of Centurion with the success of Spark. The difference? Jason Pitre has spent four years not only perfecting his game (puts my year to shame . . . head hanging over here) but also being heavily involved in the RPG community. That pays off when it comes time to release. He knows lots of people, and those people know his game, and they will proselytize for him. Now, I doubt Jason was only involved in the RPG community with the expectation of drawing on the community to help pimp his game, and I further doubt that his community ties were the only differences between our campaigns – Spark is a very different game than Centurion– but it helped to get the word out to people to whom his game would interest.

Publicity is a bitch. Or an asshole, depending on your preference. It's all fine and dandy to have created something, but it needs to latch on to the public's attention to grow, fester, and mature to become noticed, then appreciated, and finally applauded. It's a concentrated game of chance unless you have any combination of natural charisma, connections, money, and more importantly, time. This is something Jason Pitre had plenty of for his Spark RPG Kickstarter and kudos to him for it.

Of those four lucky charms, I have one. Time. And even then, I don't. It's the curse of hindsight to look at someone else's achievements and kick yourself for not aiming in the same direction and I try not to get caught up in doing things exactly like others. However, there are great lessons to learn from others and I'd offer no service to myself and my work if I didn't look at what these two have done (yes, Fraser, even you) and make notes.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Talkin' Kickstartin'

I am the Warden!!

An impromptu Hangout with fellow Ottawa designers Fraser Ronald (Centurion) and Jason Pitre (Spark RPG) turned into the latest episode of Collateral in the Accident Survivors network. It was a great opportunity for me to get an impression, answers, and suggestions for the Killshot Reloaded Kickstarter currently set to launch next month.

Listen and enjoy. And share.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Post-Traumatic Growth

I am the Warden and I command you to watch this video!!

I watched this one last night with the missus listening in from the kitchen and it was a profound experience. I've watched a few of these TED Talks before and found the discussions interesting or poignant, but this one truly spoke to me. Things made a little more sense.

I'd never heard of post-traumatic growth before and now that I have, it'll be interesting to see if any of the specialists I'm working with have heard of it as well... and if so, why the fuck haven't they ever said anything about it? Even since my accident - almost from Day Two, to be honest - I've been fixated on my quest to achieve my dream of professional tabletop game designer and publisher.

Fixated is the right word for the job. There is very little "common sense" that has detracted me from my quest, though that does not mean I've ignored it. If anything, I've embraced it and accepted its challenges, thereby redefining how I will approach my quest on the path to success. Will it require a lot of hard work and dedication? Yep, bring it on. Is there a chance to make a lot of money? Nope, and I don't much care. I've never had a lot of money nor any great success with it, so it's not like I'll have to learn to live without it. Would it have been better to approach this quest with stability, like that of a well-paying career by day and a string of nights working on the next RPG project? Definitely, but that's out of my control. For the longest time, I've always chalked it up to a need to fulfill a life's ambition before I truly die once and for all. An innate realization that I could have missed out completely if I was killed and I've often wondered if this pursuit was healthy.

Based on what Jane reveals in her presentation, it finally makes explains why I've been so driven at an unconscious level. In a good way. "Why" is an incredible device when you're dealing with trauma and if this woman has truly gone from suicidal thoughts to the cheerful and pleasant crusader for games we see above, then there is something truly powerful about her beliefs.

To quote Abed: "Cool. Cool cool cool." 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cleaner, Simpler, Smaller!!

I am the Warden!!

Yesterday was the start of revisions for Killshot Reloaded's options chapter. You know those days when you get started on a large chapter/project and it starts with complete unawareness of just how much of a difference your work will bring? That was yesterday.

One of the primary goals for Reloaded is to create a cleaner version of the game while simultaneously allowing assassins and Directors more flexibility to take the game and run with it. While making a post on G+ about the process, it occurred that I've probably run close to 50 jobs for Killshot and various recent offshoots of the Optional System since it's creation and publication. In that time, I've noticed how players have translated and interpreted their options, listened to their opinions, and have now set a goal to use those opinions and concepts in mind for the new edition.

What I did not expect was just how improved these options have become. I hate putting it that way, because it instantly comes across as if the game was broken. And I hate saying THAT because the original edition of Killshot is by no means perfect (need I point out the major faux pas of having an option and skill both named "Survival").

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Using My Big Boy Words

I am the Warden!!

You'd think by my blog alone that there's very little action going on right now, but that's so far from the truth. Aside from the official announcement of Killshot Reloaded (see the BRG site for details) and the progression of development in the new edition, I've also been plugging away on a new Kickstarter video for the upcoming Shaintar campaign by Sean Patrick Fannon, finishing up the final piece for Killshot Files #2, putting the next instalment of High Plains Samurai together, and working on a silent project on the side. If I haven't been posting enough, it's because I'm writing too much.

And that's the irony of today's post. It came to me last month that perhaps I haven't been writing enough, particularly when it comes to adventure design. When I'm running a game, I'm a massive fan of improvising. I'll detail a basic plot, flesh and stat out characters, establish locations, and run with everything as it plays out to provide players with a rich and reactive setting.

The problem is the contradiction with what I really need for adventure design and publication. It's something discovered during the past couple of Killshot or Optional Core sessions that must be seriously and correctly addressed in the new edition. When you don't write down the entire adventure and plan out your fight scenes in advance, you tend to take liberties with your text. For example, it never occurred to me during any of the various drafts for the three jobs published in Killshot: Direction to include a sidebar or any relevant information on how to set up a Tracker for a given scene. There were rules for determining all the chips needed on the board and that seemed good enough. What I've noticed is that without having a solid foundation to set up a scene through the game's mechanics, there's no telling how good or poor the scene will play out. So much information is missing from the text that Directors will have to embellish as they see fit and that can cause serious problems in game satisfaction.

Perhaps no other evidence is required than the outcome of the first session for High Plains Samurai. While the YouTube broadcast was cut out early and remains unavailable to those outside of the Development Team sitting at the table, the last fight scene went horribly awry. Everything went wrong and the fact that I never bothered to write down a set-up for the fight scene contributed to that problem. And it didn't help that my qi points mechanic was totally screwed up.

For tomorrow's game, I've made adjustments and wrote out every fight scene (all five of them) in complete detail, from how many Teams are provided in what order to a list of pre-existing triggers and outcomes for the fight using the new fight management system undergoing construction for Reloaded. How will it turn out? You can find out tomorrow as we stream a live broadcast of the game through the Optional Core community on G+. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

I'm Seeing Stars: Kickstarters On My Watch List

I am the Warden!!

If you've been following me Twitter feed, I've been sharing links for 4 different Kickstarters underway as we speak. Or read. Wait, I'm writing. Never mind! All four of them are on my watch list and waiting for that next cheque to make it possible to pony up just a little bit to become part of the action and help make them a reality. I'd like to take this moment to share them in a little more detail for various reasons.

Aside from Torment: Tides of Numenera, there's a personal connection to the remaining three. Twilight Continuum you've heard about here before (I'm writing Books 2 and 5) and Centurion and Spark are projects from a local of local boys and good friends. 

Centurion is inches away from hitting its mark as I write this. It's the brainchild of Fraser Ronald (Sword Noir and Kiss My Axe, Sword's Edge Publishing, and the Accidental Survivors podcast) where players take on the role of Roman Legionnaires. Fraser's a huge history nut, particularly when it comes to the Legion and it shows through in gameplay. Along with a few others, I've been helping as a playtester and watched it grow over these past few months. No existing knowledge is required as a player and if you're an interested GM but unsure of your own, there's going to be plenty of history provided to help you build a campaign. 

Twilight Continuum is the ambitious 6-part adventure serial put together by Aaron Huss at Mystical Throne Entertainment. I've been part of this one for the past couple of months and put the intro video together, but she's struggling to get past 10%, let alone reach the true goal of $35,000. If you're a big space opera nut, love the sic-fi games, and want to have a complete adventure path without getting bogged down by rules expansions and third-part supplements, this project is for you.

Torment: Tides of Numenera... You know what? It's past $2.5 million. I don't think I need to share too much with you at this point. You've heard of it. And yeah, I wants to get the download edition for $20. 

Spark RPG is the creation of Jason Pitre (Genesis of Legend Publishing) and will finally see the light of day after nearly four years of development. This one is also a hop, skip, and a jump away from hitting its goal and will likely rise up into something truly special. Never had a chance to play it, but the concept of creating the world around you before you create your characters sounds massively intriguing and was the basis for starting up my recent High Plains Samurai mini-campaign. Plus the artwork looks gorgeous and expensive. 

That's my wish list, projects that will see my money as soon as I can do it guilt-free. Ok, maybe guilt-less. What's on your list? 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Find the Lokka: Savage Insider Premium #5 Available Now

I am the Warden!!

Released today by Mystical Throne Entertainment (the same people behind our current Twilight Continuum Kickstarter project... hint!), Savage Insider Premium #5 contains my first published Savage Worlds article detailing a new alien race known as the lokka. Secretive and paranoid shape changers, they have been cast out to the fringes of society and know a life only of subterfuge and infiltration, existing as a refuge within any of the countless other races in your campaign. If you're like me and can never choose one race in particular as your favourite, this shapeshifting option may be just what you're looking for. Just look for the Racial Profiling article.

Or you could also pick up a copy for the other articles too. I'm sure they're just as good, if not better. There's a POD copy coming out soon and I just may treat myself and clear some extra space on the shelf.

On sale through RPGNow. 

A Big Day For Reloaded

I am the Warden and today is the day that Killshot: Reloaded truly begins!!

Oh, I know I've been talking about it for months and work has begun on the four individual themes originally intended as the sole purpose for Reloaded, but things have taken a turn for the better. During the month I shall now refer to as Dark February - a time when I had to put various projects and other game design related activities aside to deal with the harshness of Reality - a realization occurred. Something deep and profound that has breathed new life into this project.

Killshot: Reloaded will not simply exist as a supplement supporting Killshot. It will be the second edition of Killshot, complete with additional themes and settings to create a fully-detailed, fleshed-out campaign setting. 

In the past year since Killshot's Kickstarter brought this game to life, I have run a lot of games. In that time, I have tried a lot of new options and material, particularly for the recent Optional Core playtests and we've devised a few new tricks and shortcuts previously unconsidered or unavailable. That's not to say it's broken as is, but it's dawned on me how this game could be even better.

At this point, I wouldn't go so far as to call this an official announcement or anything. Just a little secret between you and me. The plans for Reloaded have just exploded and it's going to take me the rest of the month to truly understand what's swirling around in my head and run with it. All of these ideas will be incorporated into a complete Kickstarter campaign bigger and better than what was offered last year and if everything goes amazingly to plan, you could be looking at a 300+ page guidebook for the next edition of the world's deadliest tabletop roleplaying game.