May 012013
 

Until I can get some more play testing done on Excitement and Adventure, there’s not much else I can do with that particular idea. Sadly it’s hard to convince people to take the time and money required to print and cut out an entire card game just so they can offer feedback to a blogger looking to make his first game. So it may surprise some of you to learn that for my next game design project, I’m still trying to get a card game idea off the ground.

The reason for this is simple: it’s the kind of game I love to play, and still massively easier than doing a whole board game that I’d need people to create and test out for me. And the benefit of a card game is that once I have a version of the second iteration that I’m happy with, I can make a proof of concept for a considerably cheaper than a board game. Also, as anyone who has checked out my DriveThruRPG offerings will know, I do not have a flair for graphic design.

undertakeranimateThe new idea is actually taking the basic system for the first card game, and with a few tweaks to fit the setting changes, reinventing it as a more short term combative game of land grabbing. The inspiration for it comes from an RPG campaign I ran a while back about reclaiming lost areas in a post apocalyptic Neo-Victorian England. For people unaware of it, the game took place in the world of Unhallowed Metropolis. In the game I ran the players were outside of London on a specific contract to reclaim a family estate that had been lost to not only a powerful spiritual entity, but also a horde of the undead.

For the card game though, the players would be staying within London, each taking on the role of a private Reclamation firm. The goal would be to travel to the various lost districts of London and destroy the various foul abominations that reside there. These include not only the Animate dead that are the prevalent threat in most ares of the city, but also Ghouls that dwell in the London Below, Vampires that haunt high society at night and nest in rookeries during the day. genetically enhanced super soldiers gone crazy and wolf like are also at large, along with Prometheans and other aberrations that occur when science and the supernatural collide.

The payers will have various tools at their disposal, such as hired goons and the latest in Aethric weaponry, along with spiritual aid in the form of mediums and ghostly containment devices. They will be limited on just how much they can take on any one job, so will need to plan carefully, but what can’t really be taken into account is the other players. They will have cards designed to slow down their opponents, with either random phenomena or targeted attacks when their rivals are at their weakest.

The only problem with this plan is that I will need the permission of  Atomic Overmind to actually make this game in any format other than a freebie fan made affair. Although this would be great for a lot of people, the only way it would work would be for the gamers who want to play it to print off their own cards, and as mentioned above, this is easier said than done. And if Atomic Overmind aren’t in the market for a kick ass card game based on a massively popular property they own – and if they take a look at just how well the Lovecraftian spin off games are doing for Fantasy Flight Games, they really should at least consider it – then I can always design my own world, and try again to get the play testing done and put the game out with DriveThruCards. Which at the moment is the what I expect to do once I have the first game ready to be launched upon the public.

So there you have it, a pitch that isn’t really a pitch, but I would be interested to know what people thought about the basic idea.

Mar 202013
 

cards-against-humanityI wasn’t too sure that this should be reviewed here, as there’s little to recommend it as a role playing game, or even a game with role playing elements. What made me take a shot though, is just how much I’ve had playing it recently. I first came across the game when a Twitter debate broke out bout whether or not it should be considered a good gateway to more mature and in depth gaming. My own personal thoughts on it, based on a few previews of the cards, and how the game is played, was that it didn’t need to do that job, but it could do if pressed.

So, what is Cards Against Humanity? It’s a party game in a similar vein to Apples to Apples, but very much aimed at a mature audience, provided that audience has a puerile sense of humour, and is not easily offended. It works very simply – although there are optional rules to add a bit of extra fun for people who have played it a lot – by the placing down of a Black card with a Phrase or question, to which the other players have to select a White card from their hands that they think best fits. This all sounds very simple, and it is. You can explain the rules in the time it takes to deal everyone a hand of cards.

For this reason alone, it is a great game to drop in front of people who might not be savvy with the more complicated Euro-games or Ameri-trash kind of board games that I usually play with my gaming friends. It’s the kind of thing that can be dropped on people who are already out for a drink, or just chilling at a mates house, and fun should quickly ensue. Add to this the accessibility of getting hold of the game itself – available as a free download to print out at home – and it’s a sure fire hit. Of course, it’s not quite that easy…

With a name like ‘Cards Against Humanity’ you get the feeling this isn’t a family friendly kind of game, and you’d be spot on. The humour is very close the bone, and if anyone in the group is easily offended, then I would advise against playing it at all. Almost every combination of cards could be considered offensive to someone. the last time I played this game – after taking the time to print it on a good card stock and cutting it out one rainy afternoon – I was in a pub with a small group of friends, and we had to be more than a little careful about how loud we were when announcing the winner of each hand. It should give you a pretty good idea of the level of humour, by telling you that one answer that works with damned near everywhere question is ‘Black People’.

This sounds very racist, and by itself could be enough to put people off the game, but bear in mind that it is derogatory about everyone. It is so universal in its attitude towards mocking things, that once you get over it, you don’t really notice it. As the game progressed, I noticed we were less and less concerned with keeping our voices down, and were just laughing out loud like children.

In conclusion, as long as you can get passed the dark themes and humour, this is a great game. easily accessible, both in laying your hands on the game, as well as playing it. it comes with a very high recommendation from me, and if you’ve played it before, feel free to share you’re favourite combinations of cards in the comments section. To start you off…

“_______, High five Bro!”

Incest.

Feb 232013
 

So there we have it, the long overdue story of how this blog came to exist. There are actually a few other projects I’m involved in that I didn’t have time to share through the week, so listed below – with links for those interested – is everything I’m doing, and everywhere else you can find me online, and maybe even in the real world. I’ll start with the ones already mentioned, just to get them all in the same place.

Reviewing music for an extreme metal webzine: The Legions of Steel. As an aside, if you’re in a new and upcoming metal band, drop me a line and we’ll happily sort out an interview (Skype) or if you have a promo, we’ll rock a review for you.

I’ve released my first DriveThruStuff product, and I will be aiming to drop one new Adventure a month. The publisher page can be found here.

I also manage a stand-up comedian, and I’ll be pimping gigs and other appearances through his Facebook page.

I’m onto stage two of my first fully functioning card game, and everything you need to help me play test it can be grabbed through Dropbox.

And now for some stuff you might not know about.

I have taken up a weekly column over at Stuffer Shack. The dude who runs the site went the extra mile in offering support and encouragement when I first started out, so I’m very pleased indeed to be able to work with him. The first post went up yesterday, and you should check back each work for more.

Me and my best mate – whom I mentioned yesterday – have recorded our first podcast. Since he is a very busy man, lecturing at various universities and speaking at conferences, he hasn’t managed to get it edited and uploaded yet, but when he does, it can be found here.

The fiction that I mentioned writing also has its own home, but if you’ve been following this blog since its inception, the address should look familiar, as all I’ve done is go back to the old WordPress page to publish it. I’ll be trying to keep up with one new piece a month on here, so check back regularly.

These last two don’t have links yet, as there are more details to work out, but they are moving on at pace.

I mentioned the hobby of airsofting on a Monday, and as soon as some contract details are worked out, a mate of mine will be opening his own venue. I will not only be helping to build the arena, but also coming up with some MilSim style adventures and plots that will be run there. I will post details when I have it, as I will almost certainly be helping out with marshaling too, so you might be able to pop down and say hi, if you live relatively close.

And finally, me and another mate – guitarist in kick ass post-rock band Civil Protection – are about to embark on creating a documentary film on fringe religions. This is his baby, and I’ll just be along for the ride, coordinating as need be, but it should be fun, and once we have more details, I’ll let you fine people know.

And now for something even more ethereal. I received a message in the comments section of this very blog from another blogger, one whom I’m a big fan of as we share similar tastes in extreme metal, and have both been lucky enough to get in on the MYFORAG play test. He wants to run something by me. I’m more than a little intrigued…

So that’s that. On Monday we will return to a more sensible blogging schedule, and I’ll just pop links to my other projects on Twitter, Google+, or – and this is where most things end up – the Facebook page for the blog. Thanks for sticking with me through this strange little week, but thank you more for reading the blog at all.

Feb 222013
 

Well, if you’re going to keep coming back here, and I’m going to keep on talking! I left you yesterday with a decision I needed to make; what was I going to do to try and improve my lot in life and maybe even pay the bills? It swiftly occurred to me that the one commodity I possessed in a large quantity was time, so I just started to think of ways to fill it. I had always enjoyed writing, and thought I’d start there. I used to enjoy drawing too, but I was never excellent, and these days the most I do in that direction is a few basic tattoo designs, which were never of the kind of professional quality they’d need to be to make me any money.

Having spent a long time working in book shops I knew that the road to getting a book published was a lot longer than most people realised, but that there were ways to keep the mind busy on that long trek. I started looking into sci-fi and fantasy magazines that would take unsolicited submissions for fiction – of which there are plenty, you just need to spend the time looking for them – as this would be a great way to get a portfolio together to take to a literary agent. While doing so a friend suggested to me that starting a blog is a great way of honing your skill and testing the water for a potential audience.

I was very lucky indeed in that the friend in question was my best friend, who just happened to be a professional social media consultant. Stand up and take a bow, Mr. Richard Bassinder. (seriously, click the link for some great tips, and if you want to up your online profile, and can afford him, he’s very very good indeed) We sat down one afternoon in one of our favourite watering holes and over a few pints of ale worked out what I needed to do. It was from this conversation that the blog took shape. We are both gamers, and realised that talking about what I knew would be best, and once I got used to writing regularly I should expand the blog into fiction and other things.

Before I got round to the fiction thing though, I found myself having a great time as a role playing blogger. I quickly ended up with a sponsor, and a readership I could be proud of. All along I was also finding out just how nice a community the online role playing lot are. I started joining in a few community activities, one of which led to today’s announcement. The National Game Design Month – NaGa DeMon for short – was just too good an opportunity to pass up. I knew that I still didn’t have a novel in me just yet, and since – after a very strange dream – I had the bones of a card game idea in my head, I thought I’d go for it. So I spent all of November writing rules, formatting cards and expanding on a basic structure of the game I had in mind. By the end of the month I had even managed to play a couple of games of it.

The response was mostly positive, but I knew I still had a lot of work to do. So after the Christmas break I went back to it, fully armed with the feedback of several play tests and some ideas of my own about how to streamline the rules and speed up the play time. Yesterday I put the finishing touches to Version 2.0 of my Neo-Victorian game of Exploration and Glory, and if you want to take a look, it’s all available as .pdfs through the link. I present to you: Excitement and Adventure!

There’s a few files in there, but if you don’t have the time or printer ink to run off a full copy for yourselves, then any feedback on the rules would be great. This isn’t the final look of the cards, just a basic idea for another round of play testing. I do have someone working on making it all look much prettier, and as soon as we have that sorted out, I’ll post the details on this blog.

Well, the weeks almost up, and that does bring you pretty much up to speed. There are still a few other projects that I’m involved in that I haven’t had time to slot into this rambling history of me, but if you’ll indulge me, I’ll bring them all together for one final update at some point over the weekend. I make no promises as to when, as we have family visiting and a fiftieth birthday to attend.

Until then, I just want to say, to everyone who reads this blog, comments on it, talks about it to their friends, or just made me feel like I was part of this wonderful community I now belong to: Thank you. Deeply and truly, thank you. I don’t want to enter the realms of hyperbole and say that you’ve saved me, but you have instigated a massive and complete turn around in my life, and for that I think of you all as friends!

Dec 312012
 

I hope you have all had a great holiday so far. I’m not sure if I have, as I’m writing this early, as I’m fairly sure that the spirit of the season – in my case, rum – will affect my ability to maintain a blogging schedule. So what I have for anyone out there who decides to check up on me today is a short list of three things that I want to accomplish in the new year. Lets start with the one that concerns this blog shall we.

The last six months have been fabulous for me. I’ve been a gamer for a very long time, and most of my close friends have been brought into my life because of this hobby. The blog has given me the chance to make a whole bunch of new friends, digitally so far, but with luck I will meet some of you someday, and share a drink or two as we talk level based game play pros and cons. So, I am going to commit to maintaining my weekly schedule for the whole year. Every Monday a new RPG related post will pop up on this page for your reading pleasure, or your money back. I’m also going to reinvigorate my old WordPress page, for a slightly different purpose; I’m going to try my hand at prose fiction writing.

Having tried a few different things in the past, I think that designing role playing games and adventures might not be within my skill set. I still have plans for the card game – more on that later – but when it comes to creating role playing things, I much prefer a free form creative process which means the adventures make little to no sense when committed to paper. What I have always enjoyed doing though is writing stories. For a long while now I’ve been thinking about taking the plunge, so come the new year, I’ll be putting something up – hopefully once a week, but I may revise that later – over on the other page. A lot of what I write is role playing inspired, or at least genre fiction, so I hope a few of you will head on over on occasion for feedback. I mean that too, like it or not, I want to know what people think…

Secondly, and this is just for me, I want to get back into shape. I moved house recently, and shifting things out of the house was notably harder on me than moving it in a couple of years previously. I know that time marches on for us all, and I’m going to be 35 in less than a month (28th January, if you want to send me something ;p), but I think that with a bit of effort I can make some improvements, and that’s no bad thing.

Finally, and this one is a bit more of interest to my readers than my physique, I’m going to spend the year concentrating on getting my card game off the ground. I’ve made some good contacts over NaGa DeMon, and had universally positive feedback. That’s not enough though if I want to make a go of this. So, I’ll be getting a better working version of my game ready to print and play, along with forking out some dough to get a professionally made promo set for me to take on the road. I will be doing what I can to hit as many places as possible that will let me play my game, and with luck, putting copies of it into the hands of others who will do the same for me. By next November I hope to have my eye on a kickstarter project for it, or have it in the sights of an actual game design/development company, so I can start work on an expansion. This one is a lofty goal, but as the great one once said, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this little post, and if you’re a regular here, thank you so much for your continued support. I hope to keep providing content for you that you want to read, and are happy to share.

Happy holidays from the Shortymonster!

Dec 102012
 

Sorry about the delay everyone! Not only on doing a NaGa DeMon round up, but on posting this late on a Monday. Followers of the blog will know that I have been without internet and moving house recently, and today ending up pulling a longer shift than usual, so I’ve had to wait until now to get in front of my computer. Right, with the apologies out of the way, lets get onto the good stuff.

First off, I got my game played before the end of last month (pause for applause)! Not quite a full game, but I’m happy that even a handful of turns were played as it got me some great feedback. Mainly being that the rule book could do with an example of play in it. I don’t disagree either; I play a lot pf board games and card games, and was designing the rules – subconsciously – for someone with the same amount of experience as myself. Not everyone has an entire cupboard and overflow space given up to games, so I think that I need to pay more attention to the casual gamer market. Sure, the rules are a bit complex, but not overly complicated; they just need explaining in a more straightforward manner, and examples of play seems to fit this criteria. So, with that in mind, I’m starting to work on a new rule book, with those additions, plus a few other tweeks suggested by people who’ve read the rules, but never had the chance to play the game.

Other changes that need to be made include adding a few extra Excitement cards – one of which has the working title ‘Zombie Richard Burton’ – and probably dropping multiples down to two of each instead of three. The deck is just a bit too big at the moment, and it made sense to overload it during play testing so I would have the chance to look at how the various cards worked in differing situations. Out of the basic play test though, I need to be worrying more about balancing the game, and – since this is print and play right now – the size of the deck I expect people to print off to play it.

On the advise of a friend, I’m also considering dropping the word Steampunk from the game entirely. I love the genre and all of its conventions, but explaining it to the uninitiated seems wasteful, as they don’t need to know what it’s all about, and any Steampunk fans out there should get that this is a Steampunk game without me spelling it out to them. If you have any thoughts on this, or anything else about the game, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments box below.

Finally, I do have some great bits of art on the go for a lot of the cards. Some are templates only, that I can fill my own stuff in with, but the play mat is great, and sadly too big a file to pop up here.. I’m going to pop all the images below, with links embedded to larger versions.

They’ve all been done by a friend of mine named Dash. As soon as he sends me a link to his webpage, I’ll update here so everyone can head on over and check out his other work. I hope you lot like what he’s done, and I hope to see more from him soon. In the mean time, I’m still looking for people to play the game and offer some feedback before I start the re-write come the new year. If you’re so inclined, head on over and download the game to play it for yourself.

 

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Nov 132012
 

You read that right blog fans! I’m finally ready to release my Steampunk card game to other people who will play it and everything! Links will pop up throughout this post as I talk about the various components, but there will be one link at the end that should take you through to everything you need to get started in your very first game of Excitement and Adventure: The Race for Glory!

First thing you might want is the Rule Book. This was formatted to be printed off as a booklet, rather than just creating the document and then printing it off as a booklet, as my printer didn’t do a great job of that. Print off pages one and three, then two and four on their reverse side. A fold down the middle and you’re done. On the back cover, you’ll see a few names of people who’ve helped out in the early stages. If you do play the game and provide some feedback, then your name will be added to this list.

Next up is the Play Mat. In a finalised version of the game, I would love to see this as a world map, with boxed out tables for each continent. For now, it’s just the tables, but it means it will work easily on an A4 sheet with a font big enough for everyone to read.

Characters next, and there is two sheets of these. Each has three characters on. Although at the moment the game only really supports 2-4 players, I like the idea of giving the players a bit more choice about who they control. It also means a larger number of possible character combinations. These cards really do highlight the fact that I have no artwork as yet, since most of the card is white space. I will get something down on them later, but right now I just need to know if the game works at all.

This is the big bit I’m afraid, as the next thing you’re going to need are the two decks; Excitement and Adventure. Quite a few pages of these, with 9 cards per page. Just cut them out and stack them up. Male sure your printer is set up to do the whole sheet, as I have extended the margins somewhat. This was done to make the cards fit snuggly in basic CCG sleeves. I didn’t want to print the whole lot on card stock, so this seemed like an easy option. I picked up 300 sleeves on ebay for less than £3 including shipping if you decide to pick some up. You will need over 200. Sorry about that, but it just kind of got away from me.

Each deck also has a back available too. Adventure and Excitement denoted by a big capital letter. If you want to keep printing costs down, you can just write this on yourself, but since there are over 200 cards, I thought I’d make it easier if people didn’t fancy spending that long with a pen. You’ll notice that there are no lines on the back of card sheet. This was because getting the lines to sync up with my printer was a bit of a pain in the rear. These are just a single sheet, so you’ll need to print off enough to back all of the cards in each deck.

Finally, one more thing that you’re going to need is the Time Slider. Just print off and cut out. Folding the un-numbered side between the others for stability, then taping it closed. A paper clip should suffice to track the turns, which I hope you can find about your home.

I am also trusting that most of the people who will be interested in playing this game will have access to a pile of things that they can use for tokens. I’ve been using poker chips for Renown, as the different colours can denote differing points, meaning smaller piles of tokens come the end of the game. Other than that you’ll need a handful of other tokens/beads to represent Trophies and Malfunctions picked up as you Adventure.

If you have all that, and you’re ready to go, then I hope you have fun, and I have just one more thing to ask. I need feedback. It’s why I’m opening this up for people to play. The basic stuff such as game balance and spelling mistakes would be great to hear about, but there’s a whole host of stuff that I would like to know to help the game improve. If you’re playing a game, I would love it if you could keep track of which Explorers were being played, how many players there were, the final point tally and how long the game lasted. And of course, if the game makes sense and you have fun.

And also, thank you. I know that this month a lot of people are designing their own games, so if you get the chance to take a shot at this, I want you to now how much I appreciate it. If you need play testers of your own, ask away, and if I can fit it in, then I will happily reciprocate the favour.

Link to all items. There are some sample sheets in there too, feel free to ignore those, as they exist just to give people an idea of the cards.

Nov 092012
 

When I last left you I had completed the Excitement deck and shared a few choice samples with you, along with the rule book so you know what the heck it all means. Or at least, that was the plan. Go and take a look if you missed it…

Since then I’ve mainly been working on the Adventure deck. I say mainly, I also came down with a pretty bad man flu and spent an evening watching a Google+ hangout as some great people play tested an awesome game. But mainly the Adventure deck. This took a lot longer to square away than the Excitement deck, even though it’s smaller. The reason for this is that I wanted a whole bunch of unique Adventures, where as a lot of the Excitement cards made more sense as duplicates. In the original idea, I did have duplicates of Adventures, with the plan being the players would ‘race’ to be the first to finish each one. You know the drill, once someone has mapped the source of the Nile, doing it again later just isn’t as impressive. Sure, they could still head out there, and might even discover something new and shiny, but the main work has already been done and the achievement celebrated.

I had worked out ways for people coming along after the fact to have an easier time of it, but reap less rewards, but it just seemed a needlessly complicated way of dealing with exploration. Instead I have created nine unique Adventures per continent and then nine other open Adventures than can be completed anywhere but with less rewards and a slightly higher difficulty. Not only did this take time as it stretched my creative muscles a bit more, but the Adventure cards have a bit more information on them, and a few more numbers that need to be balanced. Click this link, and you’ll see what I mean.

It also gave me a few opportunities to try out some extra ideas, such as differing rewards or individual difficulties depending on the nature of the Adventure. All in all it was time well spent, and I hope that the changes I made – including simplifying the language and doing away with often repeated sentences in favour of basic terms – will speed up the game play. The last thing I need before I can try it out though is a set of characters.

I decided to keep it to the six I had in mind originally, but worked out differently based on the rules revisions. A lot of this is the same as I did to the Adventure cards. removing full sentences in favour of modifiers to a game effect. This mean they should be smaller cards – three to a sheet instead of two – without looking cluttered. I’m hoping the balance issues will be swifter to work out now I have a better handle on it, so with any luck, I should have a Monday update that includes some files to download that will allow people to actually print and play the game themselves.

I hope there’s at least one of you out there who is interested enough – and can fit it into their own busy NaGa DeMon schedule – to take a look and let me know what they think. Without play impartial play testing I’ll never know if this works as well as it does in my head.

Nov 062012
 

People who read this blog – welcome back, you beautiful people – will know I have spoken about this game before. The reason I’m taking a crack at it for the NaGa DeMon (national game design month, for the uninitiated) is that after a couple of play tests, I knew that the game needed a substantial re-write.  Each time it was played, with different numbers of players, the game got bogged down and would have taken hours to play, even taking into account the fact that it was going slowly due to note taking and rules clarifications. Luckily, the people who offered to help were all game players and knew what I wanted to achieve, and they offered some great suggestions for streamlining and simplification. First though; what the heck is this game?

Excitement and Adventure (no longer a working title, it’s actually grown on me), The Race for Glory is a Steampunk themed game of exploration and fame. Each of the players take on the role of one of six members of a Neo-Victorian London based members only club called the Explorer’s Repose. They have each put their name forward to engage in a once in a lifetime race to as many exciting places around the globe as they can get to in a set period of time. At the end of that time, the Explorer who has gained the most renown for the club is declared the winner. To help them on their way, they put together an Expedition of fantastical Gadgets and stalwart Retainers, then pick an Adventure, and away they go. On their travels, the other Explorers will be trying to hinder them, and vice-versa. But there are also cards that can be played to their own advantage.

I’ve tried to keep the mechanics simple to stop the game dragging on to long. The rule book is now available for download, but bear in mind that it is formatted to be printed off as an eight page booklet. Basically though, the players buy things, play cards and go on Adventures. Most of the cards are fairly self explanatory, but the problem has been in showing the passage of time and incorporating how the explorers use that time. I eventually settled on a ‘time slider’. A simple count down of 20 to 0, which drops a point at the end of each turn. When it hits zero, renown is totaled up, and the winner is declared. Once a turn the players who have characters on an Adventure may make an Exploration roll to see how much progress they make on their current venture, with Exploration tokens showing how well they’re doing. Once they feel confident that they’ve explored enough they can make their Adventure roll to see if they’ve found what they were looking for. Each token gives a plus one to this roll, but every Adventure has a difficulty that takes away from it. So the players have a choice to spend more time exploring to increase the odds, or take a gamble and possibly end up getting more lost or returning to London in shame.

The Expedition cards are designed to help in this, with action cards played by all explorers that can also hinder. This was a big part of the game for me, as I didn’t want each player to take their actions in vacuum, preferring the idea of player interaction. Successfully completing Adventures not only gains renown, but also means the Explorer gets an extra revenue source with which to buy better things or fund more rewarding Adventures. For people lagging behind – due to bad luck with regard to card draws or dice rolls – there are ways for them to get back into the game through certain options and an increased chance of drawing extra cards. This is a totally new mechanic for the game, and I’m hoping that after a few more play tests I’ll get to see how well it works.

That’s the basics of the game then. At the moment, I’ve managed to complete the Excitement deck; containing the resources needed to go on Adventures and ways of helping/hindering those who are also on one. I’ve also worked out a first draft of a play mat to show the differing results to exploration rolls one would expect on different continents, and as mentioned above, the rule book. At the moment I’m working on the Adventure deck. This is separate from the Excitement deck and can only be drawn from if the player skips their normal draw phase. When they do so, they take the top three cards and select one that they would like to attempt. when it is complete I hope to have nine different Adventures per continent, with a few extras that can be attempted on any land mass with appropriate modifiers.

After that I need to go back and revisit the characters. I like all the original ideas I had for the basic archetypes, but since the rules have changed so dramatically, I think that only the basic idea and the character names will stay the same.

As an aside, the reason I’ve kept the working title – and added a subtitle – is that I’ve been thinking that basic mechanic of this game would work well in other settings, and currently have an idea for a sci-fi exploration game too.

Linked here is a sample of a few different types of Excitement cards, just to give you an idea as you check out the rule book. If that looks interesting to you, please let me know; I don;t want to spend a month on something that no one cares about. And if you fancy playing the game, then keep an eye out – maybe even join the Facebook page for this blog – as I will be opening it up to more play testing over the next week or so.

Oct 152012
 

Today I’m going to talk about the new game that I’ve been working on recently. This is me trying to give something back to the awesome RPG community and it will take the shape of a card game about Steampunk explorers, searching for fame and riches in a Neo-Victorian world. In the past I have talked about writing up an adventure, and although this is ongoing it is very much on the back-burner right now. the problem comes from the style that I use to run games, and how hard it is to translate that to a written adventure that can be used by others. It’s a bit complicated, and is probably deserving of its own blog at some point in the future. The short story is that it’s very hard to write down an adventure when nine out ten events that happened in it were because of player choices that I had did nothing to create or influence.

So, instead I thought I’d try my hand at another thing I love: card games. To be specific, card games with a board game feel. Think Elder Sign, or the new Blood Bowl game, both by Fantasy Flight. What else do I like? Steampunk! It has long been a fascination for me, going back many years. If I was any good at crafting clothes and items, I would have made so many that you would never have seen me not wearing a Steampunk inspired outfit. Sadly, I’m rubbish at such things, so instead I created fiction, in the style of role playing games and adventures, and occasional short prose pieces. When I was thinking about what I wanted in a card game, Steampunk jumped straight to my mind.

I also love horror, but if I want those two things to cross paths, I already have my favourite RPG, Unhallowed Metropolis by Atomic Overmind, if I want to play a game like that. So to do attempt something different, I went for the Victorian theme of exploration and adventure. This was heavily inspired by Mark Hodder’s books, where he takes a Steampunk look at one the period’s greatest explorers, Sir Richard Burton. So, I knew what I wanted from a game, the next problem was to make it happen.

I suppose I had better explain the blog title a bit, before we go any further. I saw the deck of cards having too components, one of which would be the explorations and adventures that the characters would go on. My first thought was to have them in one deck, along with the other card, and when played, the explorer leaves London and goes off around the world. This was quickly dismissed as the random element of card draw could leave someone with no adventures for an entire game. Thus was born the ‘Adventure’ deck. A bunch of cool things to do, such as be the first to find the Source of the Nile, or to venture into Macedonia, and meet the Metal Men that reside there. At this point I knew I would need two decks, so the only option was to give the second deck the working title of ‘Excitement’. I’m sure all the geeks out there have spotted where I got that nugget of inspiration from. [Link NSFW]

Next came a few weeks of card design, and thinking of what to put on the cards. The lovely people at Reddit helped out with some basic character ideas, more than a couple of which made it into the six I’m currently using for play-testing. There were also gadgets galore to help out the intrepid Explorers in the field, Retainers with their own skills to accompany them, and even an occasional Valet; something no self respecting gentle-person should be seen without. I didn’t like the idea of exploring in a vacuum though, so as well as extra cards to help out an Explorer – finding a ancient map, or having a rare beast just walk into camp one morning – there are plenty of cards that can be played to derail a fellow Explorer’s quest. Sending in a mob of angry natives, or just having the weather turn against you at an inopportune moment.

With all that sorted, and some basic cards formatted – including having them backed with an ‘E’ or ‘A’ respectively, it was time to play test. At point of writing, I have only had one opportunity to do so, and big thanks go out to my very good friend Gav. He invited me around to his house, I got to meet his daughter for the first time since she acquired the power of speech, and was given a couple of snifters of very fine rum indeed. And we also got to play the game, tentatively entitled ‘Excitement and Adventure’.

The game basically works with each player taking on the role of an Explorer, and investing their time and money into winning a wager about who can get the most ‘Renown’ by going off and having grand adventures, and living to tell the tale. The characters all being members of an Explorers society who agreed the terms of the wager, then went at it with gusto. I will spend more time later discussing the mechanics in detail, but for now, there’s a few things I learnt from this one and only play test.

  1. The game takes too long. We were playing for well over two hours before I called it on account of the lateness of the hour. For the record, Gav kicked my ass.
  2. One entire mechanic needed to be ditched. It never came up, and if it it had, would have made the game even more drawn out.
  3. I need to think of new adventures for the characters to go on. The Adventure deck needs bulking up after the rule change.
  4. It’s totally possible to go off on an adventure with far too many Retainers and Gadgets. This needed changing.
  5. I need a few more play tests before I release this into the wilds of an open play test.

So that’s where I am at the moment. I’m hoping to rope a few more friends into playing the game with me over the coming days and weeks, and will occasionally update on here, if anything interesting enough happens. If any of my readers has any cool suggestions of adventures for the Explorers to go and have, the comments box is just below here.