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Long due update

Whoa! 3 months without an update. Well, I got back to work on an anachronistic fantasy game I’m currently calling Godlands (since the gods/goddesses are the spirits of areas) and was getting on pretty well, until Game Chef 2011 hit. I’ve spent the last 6 days working on Tempest Planet, a sci-fi game with a Shakespearean feel. I’ll have a pdf of it up soon (hopefully Friday evening). After I get that submitted on Monday, I’ll get back to work on Godlands. Once that’s done I’ll put a pdf of the current version here too.

Gotta head to work now, but I’ll try to keep this updated more often.

Pat G.


Air Patrol

Part of the slump I was in had me staying away from the Forge for a bit. I just wasn’t into reading much. On going back I saw a couple of threads on running investigations in games. This bears directly on my problems with the Air Patrol design. I couldn’t figure out how to take a game that is in large part about investigation and make it something more dramatic and less ‘here are some clues, do something with them.’ A couple of posts at the end of the second investigation thread have me thinking, though. In particular, the idea of decision-making scenes and high-stakes confrontation scenes.

I tossed the idea around a bit with my roommate, since he was around, and I think it’s workable. It’ll be a bit different from what we’re used to playing. Instead of the players just having their characters chase down clues while I throw stuff at them when it fits my plan, there will, I think, be two alternating phases. First will the the decision-making phase. Probably short, the players decide what they want their characters to do, but thinking of it/phrasing it in terms of scenes. The whole idea I have for Air Patrol is less about conducting the investigation than it is roleplaying cool scenes. The players think of scenes that they think it would be fun to roleplay at this stage of the investigation/session. The scene may contain the whole group, only some of the group, or only one PC.

Next comes the second stage, the drama phase. During this phase, the GM, in whatever order they feel works best, runs the scenes the players had decided on. The GM may inject scenes themselves before or after any of these, to help tie the scenes together or to set up events that the players wouldn’t know about and therefore could not set up a scene for. The GM may also cut between scenes if they are affecting each other. At the start of each drama scene, the GM chooses the player of one of the involved characters to be the leader of the scene. They have the spotlight. Each player should have a turn in the spotlight. The leader of a scene gets some sort of dramatic bonus or something. I haven’t quite figured out what, yet, but something that helps them be the cool character the player knows them to be.

After the GM picks the scene’s leader, the GM and the leader set the stakes for the scene. The stakes are, well, what is at stake in the scene. The PCs’ stakes should be roughly as good as the GM’s stakes. Consider the stakes the ‘prize’ for ‘winning’ the scene. Not ideal imagery for what I’m thinking, but it’ll have to do. For example, take a scene where a PC, Tony, is interrogating a known criminal, looking for information on the whereabouts of the criminal’s boss. Tony’s player sets his stakes as ‘gets information leading to the boss’ hideout.’ The GM sets his or her stakes as ‘the crook gets under Tony’s skin; next time they meet the criminal gets a free success against Tony, whatever is going on.’ They both agree that the stakes are roughly equal and the scene begins. If Tony’s player wins, the crook gives up the information. If the crook wins, the information may or may not get leaked, but the crook manages to disrupt Tony’s cool and the next time they meet, this gives the crook confidence agains Tony (in the form of a free success).

I think it could be interesting. I still have to work out what it has to do with the denouement concept, or if the denouement gets dropped from the game mechanics. I’m thinking the stakes could be used to set up bonuses or something for the confrontation with the boss.

Still mulling the idea over, but it feels interesting.


I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. I’ve wanted to run something, but nothing seems right. Either it’s something I don’t think one or more of my players would be interested in or I’m unsure of how good I would be at running that sort of game. Smallville, for instance, is a really cool game that I’d like to play, but I think it’s approach of focussing on TV-style dramatic scenes would be hard for me to run. Also I don’t think it would fit the way my players like to play games, which is more along the lines of ‘I approach the game from my character’s point of view, not that of an overall director trying to create cool scenes.’

In an attempt to get out of the slump, I have started an experiment. I sat down with my players over a couple of gaming nights and got them to help me create a game world to run. The system I’m using for it is one I came up with recently and still needs some work, but I’m hoping working on the game together will get them interested in the game world and hopefully come up with something they each will enjoy.

We started character creation, but ran out of time partway through. Looking at things at that point I realized a change I made to the system to make things simpler actually broke the system if a player tried to roll something their character was less than masterful at. I’ve hashed out a change that I believe will fix it. I’ll put up a copy of it here once I finish that rewrite and come up with a name for it.

Air Patrol update

Updated the Air Patrol file in the box to the right. Still having problems with it, but it’s a bit better than before. Still struggling with investigation, damage, and denouement, in particular.


Slow week. Still working on updating the Air Patrol pdf for the first round of changes. Maybe I’ll have it done by Friday. 🙂

And Another

A Fistful of Darkness is a game I wrote for 1km1kt’s movie mashup rpg contest. It’s a combination of Dark CIty and A Fistful of Dollars, using a system inspired by that found in Don’t Rest Your Head. It was a fun project, but, boy do those 24 hour rush periods get me stressed sometimes. 🙂

New game to the right

Kinda lost the focus necessary to work on games recently, until I saw the post for the February Ronnies contest. I got an idea for it and the current result is in the Box to the right. This is only an alpha version, as it was a 24 hour design contest. Hopefully I’ll have a beta version up in a week or so. I will get back to After the Fall at some point, but I want to get Air Patrol into decent shape first.


Tiring week…

… but I got a few things done on the system and feel better about it. Still trying to get time to type it all in, though.

Back to Work

Well, finally got myself back to working on stuff, rather than just thinking. Got most of the rules section done up, working on the character creation and special abilities sections now. I don’t have a copy up on here yet, but I should have one ready within the week.

Also might be working on a couple new game ideas, War on Mars (set in the early 1940s after a third attempted invasion by Wells’ Martians, and something set in the era of the early Greek inventors. We’ll see how it goes.


After the Fall update

Wow, almost a month since the last post. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the After the Fall game, but haven’t yet gotten a new pdf version ready. I should have one in a couple weeks, though. I’ve gotten most of the rules stuff worked out, but I have a few elements of the game world I’m still mulling over.

One of the things is steam power. The world is a post-apocalyptic fantasy world similar to our 18th or 19th century. Should I keep it pre-steam age, with older style ships and the highest level of technology being clockwork, or would it be more fun to have steam-powered vessels (albeit rare ones, due to the effects of the apocalyptic events)? I like either idea, so I’m having a hard time fixing on one. It’s mostly just an aesthetics thing, but I’ll have to make a decision sometime soon.

I’ve also expanded the cultures slightly. There is one technologically advanced culture, the Basgoth, who are similar to Victorian Europe, or maybe the era just before that. They have turned down a different path from the other cultures found on the continent, embracing magically-influenced technology. Controlling the world instead of being a part of it. Something like that. The Basgoth cities that survived did so by not having fallen under the sway of the seven Sorrows (archdemons/evil spirits that oppose the more benevolent gods/goddesses), and through powerful magical or natural defenses. Underground cities, flying cities, ones englobed in magical barriers, that sort of thing. Many members of the other cultures of the continent harbour a strong resentment of the Basgoth, blaming them for the apocalypse. While it is true that the Sorrows were able to take over or influence the leaders of several Basgoth cities and turn their armies on the other cities and towns, it was the actions of a corruptable few that lead to the events that took place, not those of the Basgoth people as a whole.

The other four cultures are less technologically advanced, but strong in their own ways. The Vermagra are a northern people whose close link to certain animal spirits gives them the ability to become those animals at will. They live predominantly in villages and small towns. The Vermagra clans that survived the demonic assault did so with the help of their animal spirit allies.

The Roataka live on islands off the eastern coast and sport magical tattooes that link them to their village and allies and allow them to draw on the strength of others when needed. Distance from the main continent helped the Roataka island towns survive, but many still fell to the few demonic armies equipped with ships or other ways to cross the ocean.

The Kolku live in the southern jungles and are closely linked to powerful nature spirits. With the assistance of these area spirits many of the Kolku survived the cataclysmic events. Lastly, the Ongar are a nomadic horse-riding people who live in the uncontrolled areas between the other cultures. I’m thinking they may have knowledge of magic that links them to an animal that assists them in their occupation. The Ongar survived due to their lifestyle of packing up and moving on when the armies came. Many died, but the demons preferred to hit cities that couldn’t get away. Those last two cultures haven’t been fleshed out as much yet, so that’s all I really have on them.

One thing to note, these cultures are not nations. The closest to nations would be the Basgoth city-states, but there was no overall leadership uniting them. In effect there were several Basgoth nations, each centered on a Basgoth city and controlling whatever surrounding territory they could exert influence over. The other cultures are mostly separated into individual towns, villages, or clans, numbering in the hundreds, and controlling only that territory that they could defend. After the events of the demonic apocalypse there are far fewer towns and villages and most of the continent is uninhabited.

I have also been looking at magic. All magic in the game is based on runes. The in-game reason being that it is the language of the spirits that created the world, the language of magic. Anyone who can use magic, even the small charms/tricks most people know, uses a spoken or traced rune to generate the effect. There are several ‘schools’ or classes of characters that have greater knowledge, and I’ve been thinking it over to see if I may be missing one that should be in the game.

So far I have:
Troubadours: Singers who have been trained in the few remaining runic songs still known from the birth of the world. Their songs mostly cover enhancing or altering things within range of their voice. The duration is however long they keep singing, but they can only use one song at a time (for obvious reasons). Some troubadour songs are just a single word and simple effect. They are found in all cultures.

Runesmiths/Engineers: Originally blacksmiths and crafters who are able to carve runes into items they make, empowering the runes with gemstones. Engineers are a fairly new variant found in the technologically advanced Basgoth culture. They work the same way runesmiths do, but tend to focus on clockwork-level technology (and possibly steampunk technology if I go that far with it). Runesmiths are found in all cultures.

Shaman: Practitioners of magic who focus on magics involving spirits, the natural world, and the mind/soul. Medicine men and elders found in all cultures except the Basgoth. Part doctor, part psychologist, part leader.

Alchemists: People who know how to reduce a material or body part to its essence and use that essence to empower a potion, dust, or other one-use creation with a magical effect. Found predominantly in the Basgoth culture where they learn chemistry and geology as well. Some members of the other cultures learn a little alchemy, but usually alongside shamanism rather than on its own.

Priests: People with a connection to one of the powerful spirits of the world. They do not perform much magic themselves, outside of charms or tricks. Instead they perform duties for their god or goddess and, in return, the spirit uses its magics to aid them when they ask, provided it fits within the purview of the spirit’s powers. Priests are found in all cultures.

Those are the five primary ‘magic user’ types in the game right now. Two ‘crafter’ types, two ‘casters,’ plus priests. Do I need a more generic ‘sorceror’ type? I prefer ones that specifically fit in the theme of the game, but some people just want to play a D&D style generic caster. Additionally, is there an area of magic that would fit a ‘post apocalyptic steampunk/clockpunk’ game involving more and less technologically advanced cultures together on one continent?

As always, thoughts and ideas are welcome.