Jan 022014

The title of this blog – welcome back after the holidays by the way – is a small bit of an introductory paragraph to a game idea I’ve had rattling around in the old noggin for the past couple of weeks. I’ll go into detail about it a bit further down, but for now there’s going to be a bit of a catch up, and some ideas about where the blog’s going.

This was originally going to be a New Year’s Revolutions style of post, as I have a few ideas about things I want to do over the next few months. Sadly though, even though for the next month or so I’m expecting life to return to normal, there’s still a whole lot going on that’s outside of my control. After that I will hopefully be busier than I’ve ever been, and will be playing the whole writing thing by ear.

There’s a couple of things I won’t be doing though. Firstly, I won’t making any promises on when I’ll be posting on here. I’ll be continuing my Orbis RPG game write ups as my weekly post – the game starts again next Tuesday, and I can’t wait – but other than that, I have other things to concentrate on. Because of more important things, I’m also not going be able to review games. It’s not as if I get sent a butt-load of them to begin with, but the time it takes to read the entire rule book, and the struggle to get people together to play it, just makes it unfeasible at present.

One of the things that I will be working on though is my Steampunk robot RPG, Rise of the Automata. It got put on the back burner a few months before the holidays as work was getting crazy and I had other things on my plate too. I never stopped thinking about the game though, and have a few ideas about setting and narration that I want to get down, plus some fun new bits that should allow players to have more of a say in character development and making shiny gadgets.

This is obviously going to be a big project, writing wise, and means that my other cool idea may have to sit gestating a while longer before I get round to fleshing it out. What’s odd is that when I started the blog, I found myself worrying that I would run out of ideas and things to talk about, and was amazed when I would read other people’s blogs and see how they struggled to find the time and mental energy to keep up with everything that they wanted to concentrate on.

And here I find myself without the time to get going on a pretty cool idea. Actually, it’s not so much the lack of time, it’s the fact that I really want to see the Steampunk game finished. I had to put a fairly long term hold on the card game I was working on, simply because of the problems that come along with producing and play testing ¬†game that requires so many physical components. I still lack the finds to create a working prototype and take myself along with it to gaming and Steampunk conventions.

I have a dear friend who has lamented that I have never finished the game as he’s a keen Steampunk creator and really liked it, but life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. An RPG has far fewer necessary components that are required to enjoy it. That’s kind of the reason why I decided to to try and create one, along with having a pretty nifty idea for a base system mechanic, that works really well with a Steampunk setting.

The new game though, I have approached slightly differently. I have no system in mind at all, and only a very vague idea about how the game would work. Depending on how much I want to get it done, it could very well end up being a setting for a modular system like Savage Worlds. I hope not, as designing the system for Rise… has been a damned fine experience.

This game – so far without a name – came about because I have been thinking about running a horror game again. Regular readers will know that I’m a bit of fan of the genre, and I always like to inject a little horror into games I run; so long as it doesn’t detract from the base theme and genre. What I have never done though, although I’m a huge fan, is run something Lovecraftian.

I love the Mythos, but have never been a huge fan of any of the systems. Call of Cthulhu does a good job of handling investigations, but I would prefer a more involved combat system, and Trail of Cthulhu doesn’t appeal at all I’m afraid. Not only that, but I’ve had it my mind for a while now that there’s scope out there for role playing in a world that has seen the investigators to have already lost to the cultists.

In the final month of the year 2013, the rituals were performed, at the right time in the right places. There was nothing that those who worked against the Elder Ones and their minions could do. Strange lights were seen in the skies, and the world awoke to find harbingers of the ancient and unspeakable evils that had lain dormant for so very long.

That was two hundred and thirty-seven years ago, and still the evil has not fully returned to our world. After all, what are mere centuries to beings from beyond time and space? Their cultists stalk to halls of power, sacrifices are made in their honour, fed to the other-worldly  creatures that are said to herald their arrival.

The world hasn’t stood still though, and for most people, their lives continued much as before, but with all permeating dread and fear as constant companions. Technology has marched on, both in the hands of those praying daily for the arrival of the Gods, and also those who use to try and thwart the will of these deluded fools.

The Gods are coming. Can they be stopped?

Sep 032013

Well, actually two, but I’ll get to the details in a moment. First off you may have noticed a new option in my menu header above that just says “Weapons“. This is because of a little but of advice from a friend about how to make my blog a little bit easier to navigate, especially when it comes to finding my more popular posts. By a country mile these have been when I have taken my years of historical research, and applied them to weapons in RPGs.

So from now on, whenever I put together another article on the subject I will update said page so that anyone looking can find them as easily as possible. What i have also done is take the time to reformat each post and put together a document containing each one, sorted by time period and popped it up on Drivethru RPG. The writing on this document has been tidied up somewhat, and the images better laid out. There is even a few extra little bits that I have come across since I first wrote them out.

This document does have a price tag on it, but I have kept it very low indeed. If you decided to take a shot and pay for it, you not only get a much better looking set of articles but you will only have to pay the once. I promise that each time I come up with a new article I will update the Drivethru document so all you’ll have to do is download the updated file.

Jun 252013

A bit of a cross post this one, as I know that this blog gets more traffic than the fledgling site I’ve set up for the RPG itself. I’ve spent the last few days putting together a first draft of the character creation system for my Steampunk game, and I’d like to see how well it works. Now, I have plans this evening to take it down to my local gaming society weekly meet up and run a handful of people through it, just to see if it works how I want it to, and see how easy it is to break.

This is all well and good, but I’ll be there to help out and make things clearer if my writing has so far not been up to the challenge. What I’d like to know as well, is if people can just run through it without me, and still end up following it. For that I will need the help of the wider gaming community. If you have the time and inclination, I would love it if you could take a shot at creating a character, and letting me know how it all goes. Any problems you come across now will help me iron them out to make it better as I move forward with the project. I’ll give anyone who helps out play tester credit, and if there’s any bloggers out there who want to lend a hand, I’ll do my best to send as many people your way as possible as thanks.

All the info is in the following post, but this link will take you directly to the character creation document that’s sat in my Dropbox account. And if you have fun with it, please feel free to tell others who might get a kick out of it. I know this is still very much early days, but starting word of mouth early shouldn’t do any harm at all. Thanks in advance, and I hope you like what I’ve got done so far.

Jun 132013

Not too long ago i was pimping for votes to try and win a coveted site of the year contest. I knew that the competition I was going up against was fierce, so I was very happy that anyone took the time to vote for me. The site that was running the competition was actually pretty close to my heart anyway, as I’ve spent the last few months writing a weekly column over there.

The site itself – Stuffer Shack in case you were wondering – is going through a few changes at present, so I thought I’d draw your attention to what’s happening over there, while also sending you off to read some of my other bits of writing. Pretty much from day one of this blog, and were are rapidly closing in on that anniversary, the head honcho at Stuffer Shack has been nothing but supportive of me. Heck he even pays me a bit for my column, which is more than most sites do. He has always been very up front about the kind of content he wanted from me, and it suited me down to the ground, as it’s very much different to what I do here, or on the Rise of the Automata site. I get the chance to be as creative I like, writing plot seeds, characters and even unique items, none of which needs to be system specific.

What he also does though is run another site, much more similar to what I do on my blog; general RPG chit chat and opinion, with a healthy mix of advice. So, if you like what I do here, and want the chance to take a look at a much more professional looking outfit, written by a whole bunch of talented creators, then head on over and check out the Gamer Effect too.

As to my column, well at the moment I’m having an awful lot of fun re imagining some characters that I’ve either created in the past, or seen played by others. To make sure I can claim it all as my own work though, I have been changing plenty of details, and sometimes keeping nothing but the name or a physical description. I’m currently in the middle of re-writing an old adventuring group I was part of. We were a bunch of con-men and thieves, but only one of us was dedicated to the life. the rest were mostly nice people just making ends meet. So I have been taking the time to create them again as true blue villains, wondering just what it would have taken in their past to drive them to wanton criminality. Lucius was the first, and the character I created. He is pretty much as he was played, but check out the other entries after that to see what I’ve done with the rest of the gang so far. If I’ve worked it out right, this time tomorrow, there should be a fourth member of the crew gone live on Stuffer Shack.

Jun 102013

I’ve been writing this blog for almost a year now, and I’ve had a whole bunch of fun doing so. In fact the more time I’ve spent on it, the more I’ve realised that I have way more creative impulse than I ever imagined. I have written a few things for my own little DriveThru account, but I know they have limited appeal. It’s great fun writing adventures, but if no one gets to play them, then it seems a bit of a waste of time and energy. Sure, I’ve had some pretty positive feedback, but I did some market research, and when people buy into a pre-written adventure, they do so because it should save them time and energy as games masters. Everything I have done has been purely system neutral, simply because I have no ties to any system that would allow to me to charge even the smallest amount that DriveThru recommends.

Choose-Your-Weapon-Dice-TabletopAfter a conversation on an RPG forum, I decided to see if there was anyone out there who owned a system that would be happy to let me play around in their sandbox. I tried a few avenues, but got a very quick response from the guys over at 6d6 Fireball. After a hugely successful Kickstarter – the first UK based RPG to make use of the crowd sourcing website – they were on my radar in a big bad way. After a couple of quick meetings I was on the job, writing an adventure for their modern horror setting, Rebel Flesh. Because they’re currently in the middle of a complete system overhaul – moving away from card based character sheets to save money on printing the game – it’s a great time to be involved. I get to join in on the play test sessions, and get the skinny on how things are progressing as the weeks go by and they get ready for a full relaunch.

As I say, it’s been great fun, and I still have a long way to go until my project is delivered, and in no way am I stepping back from the commitment I’ve made, but playing in someone else’s sandbox has its own disadvantages. I’m playing with toys that don’t belong to me, and if I don’t use them correctly, I might break them. This isn’t to say that the lovely chaps over at 6d6 have been anything but welcoming; it’s my own worries about doing something wrong that has me nervous about trying new things out. Rebel Flesh is a fully fleshed out world, with a back story and characters that I find myself treading carefully around.

So, if I want to be able to write things that I have total control over, the best course of action seems to be to make something of my own. I have toyed around with the idea of putting some work in front of the fine people over at Pinnacle, and that’s still something I have on the horizon, but there’s a whole lot more I need to learn with regards to consistent writing style – luckily 6d6d has similar ideas about pacing and language, so that’s going to be great practice – and professional looking layouts. Putting something together myself that I expect to sell will be a great way for me to hone these skills.

It will also give me the opportunity to think about a lot more things than just the next plot point. Since I’m creating the whole thing from scratch, that means I need a system of my own too. There are some great systems out there in the creative commons that can be used towards what i want to do, but I’ve found that the games I enjoy the most, are the ones that marry system and setting well. Not just a dice mechanic because it’s needed, but one that adds to the feel of the world I am playing in. And since I’m making the whole world myself, and hopefully managing to tread some new ground, I really do need a system all of my own too.

A few of my regular readers my be a bit worried that my writing will now be devoted to game design. Don’t worry, that’s not going to happen on here. I know that there are game design blogs out there, but Shortymonster isn’t one of them. It will continue to be a sounding board for ideas, and tips to GMs and players on a whole range of subjects, with information on my new game living on a blog all of its own. If something big happens, I may very well link to it on here, but general day to day stuff won’t clutter up this page. Although the page has only just gone live, feel free to head on over. I’ll be adding some basics to it over the next couple of days, and making it a bit prettier too.

Just in case you’re wondering though, the game will be called Rise of the Automata, and takes place in a Steampunk universe ravaged by a war between humans and robots.