Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blogs and Conversations

I shouldn't have asked that question in yesterday's post. Why? Because Blogs aren't about conversation. They are about monologues - some idiot saying something, and everyone else watching/reading/listening. Blogs are a form of passive entertainment, like reading an article in the paper, or watching TV.

This is why I never wanted to do a blog in the first place. My ego isn't big enough to assume that what I find fascinating is of any particular interest to anyone else. Monologues liek this are an energy sink hole for me. It's a huge effort to write a Blog for me. Why? It's a monologue. I feel like I'm talking to the wind. Why am I doing this? Because as a game designer/publisher, being without a blog these days is like being without pants. This is a necessary evil I must do to continue doing other stuff I love.

Conversations, on the other hand, give me energy rather than sucking it all out. Talking with someone - as opposed to talking to someone - gives me something to work with, a different voice with different ideas, and different ways of looking at things. I love conversations!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Outremer - What?

I've begun working on Outremer again as ToI gets ready to release. I've finished four illos in the last week - including the one I popped up here before Christmas - which had been in various near finished states. I have begun writing it again as well. I need to write up the Kingdoms of Jerusalem and Armenia to wrap up my countries, then finish the Adventure Generator, the Djinn section, and Chargen before it will be ready to playtest. So - ToI in January, Outremer late in Q1.

After Outremer, what?

The Pre-Cluster Solar Setting for SC3?
In Harm's Way; Pigboats WWII Subs?
In Harm's Way: MiGs and Sabres Korea-Vietnam jets?
In Harm's Way: Frozen Chosin Korea ground combat?
Lowell Was Right - the strange solar SF setting that extrapolates 1900 science to the 21st century?

What would you all like to see?


Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Illo from Outremer

I enjoyed painting this one! Hope you all enjoy it too!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! :D


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ToI Opponent Ballplayers

I've made a decision on ToI. I have created a table which - with one roll of a d20 - you can create an opposition ballplayer - sort of a generic NPC. The roll's modified by the type of team you are facing - Elite, Struggling, etc. - so your roll goes from 0 to 24, with anything above 20 being reserved to increasingly better teams as the number climbs. while the reverse happens at 1-4. The roll outputs a stream of stats, enough to play the ballplayer in the field or at bat.

I will also be setting up one or more sample teams for free download. Anyone else is, of course, welcome to set up their own teams for DL. If enough people do this, I can collect links to them online, and there will be many teams to choose from!


Monday, December 20, 2010

ToI Playtest Changes

I've eliminated Initiative and Complex problems and Solutions at the advice of one of my playtesters, Gonster, and at the confirmation of my players. Basically, initiative would be so rarely used, it wouldn't be worth the confusion it might cause if included. Complex Problems and Solutions would just never occur. I had waffled back and forth about deleting them before, but now I'm convinced they are just not necessary. I also took out the Starpool illo and replaced it with an illo of a guy going out flat to catch a sinking liner I had painted the day before. Now I have four illos - Pitching, Batting, Baserunning, and Fielding.

I am wondering if I should include a sample team, or whether I should just offer it as a free download. It will require making the game a bit longer, and I don't know if I should. Right now it's at 45 pages, and that seems about right. As designer of two games more than ten times as long this year - In Harm's Way: StarCluster and StarCluster 3 - it's nice to know I *can* make a short game if it suits the subject matter! :D


Friday, December 17, 2010

Tools of Ignorance ready for Beta Testing

Anyone interested in Beta Testing ToI?


As a designer, and as a GM - The RAW truth

As a designer:
It's my *job* to make sure the game runs just fine as written.

It's my *responsibility* to make a system framework that is solid enough that it can stand a hellova lot of twisting and warping without breaking.

It's my *honor* to supply alternate rules in the game that can be slotted in, yanked out, and used with no further work, so folks can configure things the way they like.

It is my *pleasure* to give folks tools that can change the setting safely, without any fear on their part of breaking anything.

As a GM:

It is my *right* to screw around as much as I want with rules, whether or not the designer allows for it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Performance Enhancing Drugs in Tools of Ignorance

You can use performance enhancing drugs - various steroids, HGH, and the like - to improve your attributes in Tools of Ignorance, but doing so places you at risk of detection. Some of the Team (clubs) cards trigger a club-wide Random Drug Test, with the TN associated with the card. If a player is clean, not using performance enhancing drugs, there is no need to roll. Players using these drugs must roll one d20. If the modified TN listed on the card or lower is rolled, they are caught.

Using the drugs to raise one attribute by one point gives no bonus to the TN to get caught. Each point an attribute is raised thereafter raises the TN by one. Any given attribute can be raised a maximum of 3 points, or to 15, whichever is lower. The attributes which can be raised are STR, AGY, and END.

Ballplayers using these drugs also have an increased severity of injuries, as the overstrained muscles, ligaments, and tendons are pushed beyond their capacity. The severity of any injury beyond "Nagging" is increased by one category per point of the highest attribute increase. For example, a player who has increased STR by 2 and AGY by 1 will have the severity of any non-nagging injury increased by 2, as the highest increase is two points to STR.

Once the player has stopped taking the drugs, attributes decline by one point per month until they are back to normal.

The first offense has a penalty of a month's suspension and -15 points of Notice, and a permanent +1 to the TN of all Random Drug Tests.

The second offense has a penalty of suspension for three months and -30 points of Notice, and a permanent +2 to the TN of all Random Drug Tests.

The third offense has a penalty of a year's suspension and -60 points of Notice, and a permanent +3 to the TN of all Random Drug Tests.

Any violation after the third has a penalty of permanent banning from baseball.


Monday, December 13, 2010


I've been suffering through a nasty cold the last couple of weeks, and have not been writing anything for my current projects or for the blog because of this. I didn't want anyone to think I've lost interest, though I have lost momentum, so I thought you all ought to know. I generally don't put personal stuff in this blog - no one wants to read that kind of crap! - but this time I thought it was appropriate.

In other news, The Tools of Ignorance is almost ready for beta release. If you're interested in testing it, let me know! The only thing left to do is to cover PC advancement.

My current Blood Games II face-to-face game - it's set in New Orleans in 1900 - is running a bit longer than I expected. We had as close to a TPK as I've come in decades last session. Only one PC was on his feet and concious at the end, with three players almost dead, and two - including the one on his feet - badly wounded. The poor guy had to drag all the other PCs back to the boat, go up the bayou to the city, hustle them to the car, and drive them all to the doctor's house - the one doctor in N.O. who would understand how one PC was in werewolf form and all were almost dead with strange bite marks all over - in the pouring, tropical rain. Fun stuff!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Her Arcane Service

Levi Kornelson has taken On Her Majesty's Arcane Service and run with it. We started a year or so ago talking about re-laying OHMAS out. Levi has actual talent in this direction, along with being a brilliant designer, so we both thought this would be a fun thing. Along the way, the project mutated and took on a life of it's own. The result is Her Arcane Service, an ultra-light version of the OHMAS game in twelve pages. Levi has done an astonishing thing, reducing the rules to only the essentials, while retaining most of the flavor.

You can download it here: Her Arcane Service

If you purchased OHMAS in pdf form, you should get an invitation to join our new Yahoo group soon, unless you don't share your email because of spam. If so, or if you bought the print version of OHMAS, let me know and I'll get you situated. We'll be supporting OHMAS and HAS through that site!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Wow! StarCluster 3 wins the RPG Blog's Best Game of 2010!

I am totally blown away! I was expecting ICONS or Shadow, Sword and Spell to walk away with it this year, but to my complete amazement Zachary Houghton named StarCluster 3 the best game of the year! I am just stunned! I am also ridiculously proud! Thank you Zach! I am honored and gleefully happy! :D