May 082013
 
First bit of actual mapping. No grids used, as I don't tend to worry about running that kind of combat unless the system supports. Flip it over though, and all kinds of hexes and squares are available.

First bit of actual mapping. No grids used, as I don’t tend to worry about running that kind of combat unless the system supports. Flip it over though, and all kinds of hexes and squares are available.

The biggest use far. Keeping notes and initiative in order. Wipe clean makes this way easier than scribbling things out when fluid combat changes the order of things.

The biggest use far. Keeping notes and initiative in order. Wipe clean makes this way easier than scribbling things out when fluid combat changes the order of things.

This post is a bit late in its arrival, as I’ve been strangely busy this last week, but don’t seem to have actually got much done. Mostly just playing around with the new look home page, and adding some functionality that should make it easier to navigate. One thing I’ve been noticing recently is that the more I have on my plate, the harder it is to locate the older posts when I need them. So, the new layout is to benefit all of us.

Take a look at the upper left for some menu buttons, and they should do things. Not too much at the moment, as I’ve only just started getting stuff sorted, but it should make life easier.

So, a couple of weeks back I got sent a rather nifty little GM aid. I didn’t really get the chance to play with it much on its first outing though, as there wasn’t even a hint of combat during that game. For the last couple of weeks though, there has been a few hairy situations – one of which lead to the character death of my Girlfriend’s psychologically broken Techie and demolitions expert – so I thought I’d take the time to show how useful it was, and really highlight how phenomenally useless I am at drawing maps. My players have now taken to asking for more maps of insignificant places, just to laugh at them. There will be a lot of pictures in this post, and sadly none of them include cats.

And if the combat expands, you just fold out another layer of Noteboard, and keep on adding to the fun.

And if the combat expands, you just fold out another layer of Noteboard, and keep on adding to the fun.

Interior of the club, used when needed...

Interior of the club, used when needed…

That’s mostly what got rolled out last week. yesterday was another day though, and another game in the same campaign.

Club hidden, for people who didn't need to see it. Maybe because they were dead.

Club hidden, for people who didn’t need to see it. Maybe because they were dead.

The situation was a direct follow on from the previous game, and luckily, all I had to do was fold the Noteboard back up and pop it into the bag. At the start of the next session, I just o0pened it up, gave a quick recap, and once again reminded people which end of the boat was the pointy one, and we were off. Wonderful extra bit of use though was adding an interior to a building for a couple pf brave souls. I just flipped another bit over, and sketched out the rough details of the inside, and could then easily flip back for everyone who was still outside or dieing from a head shot…

As you can see, it was very helpful indeed, but did nothing to make my map drawing skills improve, Maybe they offer that as an optional extra.

Apr 222013
 

I am once again dipping my toes in the pool of adventure writing. This time I have actually done a small amount of market research into what kind of things people look for in a adventure that they would be willing to spend their hard earned money on. Sadly I have come to realise that until I can get work writing for an actual games company, I’m never going to be able to produce anything that has mass appeal. One of the things almost everyone seems to look for in an adventure they’re going to hand over money for, is that it take little to no effort on their part to run the adventure.

This means stat blocks and maps, with some player handouts for good measure. Now, it should be obvious that without having any system for my adventures, that I can’t use any stats unless it is a creative commons game system. Although these exist, there are so far none out there that I’m familiar enough with to use. If anyone has any suggestions then please share them here, and if I find one that suits my style of writing, I’ll happily give it a shot, and hopefully be able to produce something that will have an inbuilt audience.

The other thing that people seem to look for though is simplicity. They don’t want a huge complicated adventure that will require a certain amount of rail-roading of their players if they want it to make sense. They wanted simple points of inspiration that they could mold and adapt to the game they wanted to run, and the one their group wanted to play. With this in mind, I have tried something a bit different for my next shot at uploading something to DriveThru.

Instead of pages and pages of stuff that might never get read other than for flavour, I have tried to just lay down the basic framework of an adventure over two pages – including a few brief descriptions of the main non player characters – and just put it out there. I can’t take total credit for this one on my own though, as the idea was actually inspired by a game my girlfriend ran a couple of years back. I have done what I could to make it my won, so much so that were my delightful better half take a shot at playing the game, she wouldn’t know what was going to happen.

DriveThruRPG: Your One-Stop Shop for the Best in RPG PDF Files!

I have done nothing but set the scene, provide history to said scene, and break down into bullet points what is actually happening in the scene. And then, as mentioned, throw in some brief descriptions of the people that the player characters are more likely to meet. I could have spent time populating more of the town at this point, but I know any GM worth their salt knows who is needed in any settlement that the players will enter, and the more detail I was adding, the more it was moving away from being the basic bare bones of an adventure that I wanted it to be

Here then is the link to it, and I think you’ll agree the price is pretty reasonable. As always, I’d love to get some feedback, especially what you think about my writing going in this direction, or if you have any advice on systems that I might be able to write for. If you’re a blogger and fancy a review copy, then let me know, and I’ll happily wing a free one your way.

In other news, at time of writing, Stuffer Shack have yet to announce the finalists to theirSOTY-Shield-2013-1 site of the year contest. you remember, that thing I wouldn’t shut up about last week! Well, if you lot voted in the numbers I had no right to expect, then I might actually be in the final four. This link should take you to right page anyway, and even if you don’t see my name, you should vote for one of the sites that did make it. To have come so far is great for any site, and they deserve your support. And if you do see my name, well then it’s time to rally the troops again, and get everyone you know/have ever met/that strange dude on the train to vote for me. Getting this far would be awesome, going all the way would make my year…

Apr 182013
 

I have now calmed down after yesterday’s quite angry post, and this is good because today we have more excellent sites for you to vote for. SOTY-Shield-2013-1

There’s two I’m going to be throwing my support behind today, and at the time of writing, I’m still not too sure which of them I will be voting for. The first is an excellent site full of geek culture news and excellence. Geek Native has been going for years now, and show no sign of slowing down. Just checking out their amount of Facebook followers makes running against them in a competition pretty damned daunting.

Another contender that has very much grabbed my interest today is the Nearly Enough Dice site. Primarily known as the home for the awesome podcast of the same name, they’re a great bunch of people who manage to get great interviews, and talk about a whole range of stuff that’s worth listening to, and know how to add some humour to it too. Head on over and check some great videos they made at the recent Compulsion gaming con to get an idea of what they’re all about, then head over to Stuffer Shack and support your site of choice.

Apr 172013
 

A bit of forewarning here, I’m in a bit of an angry mood right now, and I’m taking advantage of the extra traffic I’m getting on this page as a result of being a part of Stuffer Shack’s Site of the Year contest to talk about something that I don’t want to see brushed under the carpet.

I got a message yesterday from a blogger and podcaster who I’m a big fan of. They will remain nameless, but I know a few of you will have seen a conversation on social media and should have no problem figuring out who I’m talking about. The crux of the matter is that they had received a comment on a blog post that contained some insulting language and crass personal insults. I will not be repeating them here, but I was frankly appalled. I love this community I am so recently a part of, and have been a part of offline for a couple of decades now. I know that none of us are perfect, least of all your humble narrator.

What I can’t stomach is the level of bile people think they have a right to offload onto people whose only crime seems to be putting themselves out there in the public eye. This was not constructive criticism by the way; that is fantastic to get and helps out everybody. No, what this was was some total screaming douche nozzle who thought they had the right to make personal attacks on an RPG blogger because of the way they look. In case you are wondering, I’m no oil painting, and usually go to quite extreme lengths to avoid my picture being circulated. One has appeared on this site as it was the only way I could share an air-softing picture without copyright concerns or sharing images of people from whom I could not get permission. But I didn’t like having to do it for several reasons.

I know what it’s like to be called out because of the way one looks, and I would have thought that since leaving high school behind, I could surround myself with the kind of people who thought the same way; that insulting people for such reasons is a dickish move to say the least. And I would like to think that role players are exactly that kind of right thinking and courteous group of people. Sadly, not all of them are.

If you are one such dickish person, and I find you commenting on this site, I will publicly shame the living snot out of you, and invite some of the quickest wits and sharpest tongues I know – and I manage a stand up comedian – to ridicule you in the most public and shameful way possible. You sir, you pathetic little boy, are not welcome on this site, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say we’d rather you kept your poisonous presence the hell away from the hobby as a whole.

Okay, I managed that without even really swearing, which took quite a bit of effort, but thisSOTY-Shield-2013-1 blog post is actually about a competition. If you’ve voted for me already, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m in the running against some titans in the RPG blogging world, and getting the level of support I’ve seen so far has been both humbling and absolutely rad! In two short hours though, you will lose the ability to vote for me, so head on over as soon as possible and cast your vote for Shortymonster!

And when those two hours are up, it becomes the turn of some other excellent blogs. If you’re curious as to who I will be voting for, I have to say that right now, I’m very much in this fellow’s corner. But as always, I invite you to check out the competition and decide for yourselves.

Mar 142013
 

6844859

Although by now, I feel like I’d be justified in changing that to Mountains of Radness! The whole three part epic has been unlocked as Modiphius hit yet another stretch goal!

This one does look great, and for UK buyers, we’re talking a measly 35 quid. That’s not all that you get for your money though. You also get the basic Keeper and Investigator books, along with every stretch goal extra in .pdf. Seriously, this is amazing, and based off just how good their Zero Point campaign books have been so far, there really is no reason not to jump on board this one! Head on over, and add your backing now, while there’s still time, and check out the kick ass propaganda poster too.

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Mar 122013
 

6844859Hello everyone! This is the smallest of small blogs, but I really have to share this one. I’ve poking into the Achtung! Cthulhu Kickstarter news every once in a while, and the sheer amount of goals hit and updates made, has meant that I’ve never been able to keep on top of it. But they are so damned close to all three parts of the Assault on the Mountain of Madness getting added on, I just had to share it and hope some of my readers will head on over and help them hit this latest goal. Seriously guys and gals, please do it, just for me.

Feb 212013
 

Welcome back everyone to this thoroughly self referential series of posts. To keep you hooked though, there will once more be some actual current news at the end of today’s ramble. I left you yesterday as a recent graduate…

And there were no jobs. Seriously. It’s a good month if I manage to get one interview somewhere, and sadly the job market is so saturated at the moment that there has always been someone more qualified than me. I have over a decade of retail experience, including three years of management, along with 2:1 degree and I can’t even get onto a supermarket graduate scheme. This sucked, as it was pretty much the opposite of what I thought it would be like after getting a degree.

After about a year of this a chance arose to apply to join the services on the officer career pathway with the Royal Air Force. I had all the necessary qualifications, and after passing graduate level psychometric tests, I should have had no problem with the officer tests. I was slightly worried about my fitness levels as I was at the time very close to the upper age which you can apply to join, even as ground support. But I knew I had it in me to work on that so I went and applied. This is not a simple process, exacerbated by the fact that I hadn’t needed to see a Doctor in over ten years so had bugger all in the way of a medical history, I tagged all my tattoos, and spent days filling in the reams of paper work and getting various people to vouch that I was actually whom I claimed to be, and after a month found myself awake before dawn heading to the selection centre in a nearby city.

Sadly I was to find out there was one thing needed that I simply could not provide; my GCSe certificates proving that I had attained the minimum required standard in maths. I had in fact exceeded the minimum, but was no longer in possession of the certificates. For American readers, the GCSe is taken when leaving junior high, and is almost always superseded by a more advanced qualification. The only time I had ever been asked to present them was when I applied to go to college to study production engineering. That was almost twenty years ago, and at some point after that, the certificates had been lost, almost certainly during a house move. I hadn’t even noticed as no one ever needed to see them. The solution was to get replacements printed off, but due to various problems with that – my own personal finances and my old high school being unable to even tell me which examination board I needed to apply to – the RAF idea was shelved.

This hit me kind of hard. I had spent a very long time on this, and was more excited about it than I had been about anything in years. I had always wanted to serve, but there always seemed to be something that got in the way. This was going to be my chance. After that I lost interest in a lot of things. Especially applying for other jobs. My lovely girlfriend and I live together, and if it wasn’t for her career, I would have been screwed. I was still working the same part time shifts at a book store that had helped keep me afloat at university but without a living cost grant and student loans, this barely covered my half of the rent.

My girlfriend knew that the latest setback had hit me hard and was prepared to give me some space and time to regroup. What she wasn’t prepared for was just how apathetic I had become. Not even bothering to apply for jobs because I had already convinced myself that I wouldn’t get them, and only engaging in the most cursory of searching for jobs in the first place. After a few too many days of her coming home from work to find me spending a whole day doing nothing but playing video games, she sat me down and gave me the talking to that I needed. Without that kick up the arse I don’t know how much longer she would have put up with me, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

So, I had a kick up the arse, but that didn’t mean that the job market was any better. I needed to make a change in myself though, and one thing I decided upon was that I was going to start seizing more opportunities, saying yes to more things, and pushing for stuff I wanted regardless of whether it was available.

This brings us to today’s bit of news. A few weeks back I was offered a job. I had no experience in this field of work, and the nature of the position meant that it would not be a guaranteed source of income. I was halfway through writing a negative reply to the gentleman in question when I remembered the promise I had made myself, and typed a swift about turn, practically biting his hand off. What was the job? Well I’m pleased to say that I am now the agent/manager of a stand up comedian. He’s a friend who enjoyed some success at this years ago and had been thinking about taking to the scene once more, but needed representation that he knew he could rely on. I had no idea how to do it, but between blogging and other writing, I’m learning what I need to know, and doing my best to get the news about him out there.

The man in question is Lou Saffire, and if you have any interest in political satire as a form of humour, then you could do worse that check him out. I’ll be back tomorrow with the story of how the blog started, and yet another fun other project I’m working on.

Dec 072012
 

How’s that for an enigmatic blog title? I bet a lot of you are wondering what the hell is in the drinking water around Shortymonster towers. Well fear not, your humble blogger has not gone crazy, he is instead taking the opportunity to share with you a rather wonderful little thing.

For those of you who don’t know, once a year myself and a few hundred gamers get together at a university in the UK to drink. Role playing does occasionally break out, but only during the daylight hours, and mainly to give people a chance to recover before the next evening’s drinking begins. The people who attend this gathering are almost all part of one the various gaming societies that are dotted around this land. I myself am a member of HUGS (Huddersfield University Gaming Society), but what I want to talk about today is the creation the Manchester gaming society known as VAGUE. You see, with an awful lot of people going, a lot of societies make their own t-shirts so that they can be easily recognised from a distance. We do this HUGS, and have yearly polls for silly things to put on the back. Past examples include ‘Real Role Players Use THAC0′, and ‘Please don’t kill me, I’m only worth 50xp’.

VAGUE went one better not so long ago, and each member of their society, which is large by almost everyone’s standards, was wearing an individual shirt with an option from a choose your own adventure printed on the back, along with a number. Not just any game book though, but one they had designed themselves. That first night an awful lot of time was spent trawling the bar looking for the number you had just picked, and the dude in the ’1′ shirt was very popular indeed.

It was a great idea on any number of levels, but mainly as a social tool, as it got people talking and gave a reason for people to introduce themselves. I know it’s a bit cliched, but quite a few gamers are a bit socially awkward in large groups, even when that group is almost entirely as geeky as they are. But VAGUE went a little bit further, and I recently received an email from VAGUE front man, and all round nice guy, Big Bad John telling me that I could now pick up the adventure book for myself through Amazon.

Well, it was such a nifty idea, and because the adventure is actually pretty damned rad, that I just had to share it. So I present to you all: The Hunt for the Evil OverlordI hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Full disclosure: I was drunk when I played it, and never managed to survive once. As a side note, even though I know BBJ very well indeed, this recommendation is purely off my own back as I think it is a fantastic idea.

Oct 122012
 

First off I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been checking out this blog for the last four months. It has become bigger than I had hoped and I love being part of this community. I have gotten a ton of killer games on the back of it, and even made a few friends. If you want to carry on the love, there’s even a Facebook ‘Like’ button down there on the right. Go ahead and click it, why don’t you.

This article isn’t about me however, but about a very cool blog that has become one that I sometimes have to stop myself commenting on in case the lovely person who runs it thinks that I’m stalking them. It just so happens that she writes in a very open style, about things I want to read, and invites comments about things I want to talk about. Head on over and check the page out and you’ll see what I mean. 

Not only is it a damned fine read, but she has a ton of useful stiff over there too. My favourites have been her game translations. She takes a video game and mines it for plot hooks, characters and general atmosphere, then shares it with everyone. Meaning I have a lot less work to do if i want to steal ideas. So, ST Wild, thanks for some great reads, and I hope you’ll be around for a long time.

And just so people know, I’ve been working on my own card/board game design recently, so expect some regular updates soon. Especially because I did my first full play test recently. I got my ass kicked, and I’m the designer of the game. is that a good thing?