Nov 012013

“What? Two posts in one day? What madness is this?”, I imagine all of my regular readers exclaiming as they read this post. Well there’s good reason for it. Firstly, I’m on holiday so can blog a bit more until Monday, and secondly, I had such a good time with a certain project, that I have decided to run it again this year, and picked the entire month of November for it to run through.

You see, around about this time last year, I had hit a particular milestone, and decided to celebrate by doing something for anyone who had taken the time to check out my fledgling blog. I offered anyone who posted a comment a free NPC for the game of their choice.

I’m doing that again starting from today, and it’s just as simple. You don’t need to subscribe, like the Facebook page, or even follow me on Twitter. All you need to do is write up a basic idea of what type of NPC you want, and I’ll do the rest. It could be as simple as a Steampunk fighter, as detailed as a young women with engineering fluid pumping through her heart who longs to travel the galaxy while hunting for her long lost brother.

I will take whatever you have to offer and write up a prose description of said character, adding in some plot hooks and a physical description for good measure. I won’t be able to work out stats and what have you, as I cannot promise to be familiar with all systems, but I will do my research and make sure that the character makes sense in whatever game world you have in mind.

Last year I managed to get 33 NPCs done in a month, and later collated them all together and put the final product up on Drivethru for less than a buck. This time I hope to get even more, and to do that I’m going to need lots of help. So please share this post with anyone who might be interested, and if you have a blog, feel free to put the character I make for you up, with a link back here so other people can find it. I will be adding all new NPCs the original document too, so if you’ve already paid for it, you will get a whole bunch more, and if you haven’t then you there’s even more incentive.

So get to it, and let me know what you want.

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.

May 142013
The cover is simple, the adventure is thrilling...

The cover is simple, the adventure is thrilling…

The name De La Poer may be familiar to some of you. He was a real person, who appeared in one of the finest series of steampunk novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I liked the name so much, I stole it for an Unhallowed Metropolis game I once ran, and totally planned on turning into a full adventure. I never got round to that for a couple of reasons. Firstly, something that big would need a system behind it, and I have no permission to use the UnMet system for such an endeavour. Secondly, it was a very big undertaking for some one so new to the field of adventure writing.

This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about doing so, just that I’m changing my methods slightly. Instead of one huge adventure, I will be taking key scenes from the entire story arc, and doing them as stand alone two-page adventure seeds. I have taken one of the final scenes as a trial run, just to see how it works, and will be putting more out as and when I get the idea down to just a couple of pages. They will not be released in order, but when they’re all out there, I will be making them available as a bundle on DriveThruRPG, along with an extra sheet detailing how they all came together.

If the thought of that interests you, then by all means wait a while, and grab the whole lot for a cheaper price so you can take a look at the whole picture. If you’re a bit impatient though, the adventure that takes place in an old abandoned mine is now very much ready for you take a look at. As with all my stuff, there are no stat lines as there is no system tied to it, but the basic idea is totally covered, and I even introduce you to a monster of my own creation in this one. Either click the image to the left, or the following link to head straight on over, and don’t forget that the link in the sidebar takes you through to all of my DriveThru products.

May 092013

This is my first real post for one of the new menus I’ve fitted to my home page. After this, each time I put something out that has my brand on it, I’ll post about it here, with links so anyone who is interested can quickly and easily find what they’re after. The aim is to put out a two page adventure seed once a week. Sadly that’s not always going to happen, as with this week. A long Bank Holiday weekend with my beautiful girlfriend, needing to put some finishing touches to my card game so it can hopefully get another play test this evening, and working some odd shifts has set me back a couple of days. Hopefully though, normal service will be resumed next week.

For now, I offer a rundown of what is available so far on DriveThruRPG, all crafted at Shortymonster Industries.

System Neutral NPCs. This one pretty much says it all in the title, but the back story is fun, so I’m going to share it with you. When I hit my first big mile stone on the blog, I wanted to thank everyone who had taken the time to head on over and check me out, so I offered to write up one NPC of their choice. Just prose, and based off as little information as they wanted to give. This ranged from “pirate character” to “Star Wars universe trader on a space station”. All of them were fun, and special mention has to go to the father who had me write up his son as a kick ass fighter in a fantasy game. While it is true that you can grab all of these for free by trawling through the comments section on the original post, I just figured that it’d be easier to collate them all together, and correct a few niggling bits of bad grammar and spelling so that they looked good, and package them up for anyone who needed a bunch of ideas in one bundle.

Death at a Funeral. This one has a slightly bigger price tag than all the other stuff, but it took a hell of a lot more work to get it ready. It is a larger adventure, with non player characters sketched out, and even includes maps. And if you’ve been following some of my other posts, you’ll know I suck at maps, and really don’t like drawing them. The adventure is inspired by a tournament game I ran a few years back using the Unhallowed Metropolis system, but since I have no working relationship with the fine folks at Atomic Overmind (yet) a lot of the specifics had to removed, and turned into a generic game of alternate Victorian horror. I think I managed it quite well, and since it has been played about a dozen times in the writing of it, and the tournament, I know the game works. If you fancy the idea of playing Victorian ladies and gentlemen on the hunt for an underground and unknown foe, as you struggle through undead creatures and humanity at its worst, then this might be just what you’re looking for.

The Midnight Priesthood. I can’t actually take 100% credit for this one, as the original idea was a game my girlfriend ran. I liked the basic concept, but thought it would play better in a standard fantasy setting though. The idea itself is of an organisation who effectively take a monthly tax of one child. The settlement it all happens in is happily complicit in this arrangement, and the players take on the role of adventurers knowing nothing of the reasons behind this barbaric practice. There is a reason for the madness, but even the people of the town have no inkling as to the actual dark and terrifying truth.

Murder Incorporated. This one is based on actual historical fact, but massively altered by the addition of some elder gods and Lovecraftian horror. It started with watching an episode of the West Wing, when we discover that one of the main characters’ Father was an hit man for the Jewish mob. I just loved that idea, and it stayed squirreled away just waiting for inspiration to hit. As I started reading more and more Lovecraft, I realised that it was a very good match, and would significantly alter the dynamic of the investigators if they were constantly questioning whether what they were doing was morally acceptable, or even if the methods they were using justified the end result. Possibly the most fun thing to have written so far, but there will be more to follow as I move forward.

Speaking of which, I have two other little bits on the go at present, that should be making a DriveThru appearance in the near future. Another long form adventure, this time in a Cyberpunk world, and a short horror adventure seed set down an old abandoned mine. For regular updates, email subscribe to the blog, or head on over and hit the Facebook ‘Like’ button.

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.

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!