Thursday, December 29, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Critical! A Go Go - Update the Fourth!

I know we had a big splash when we posted the cover art, done by our wonderful artist Avery Liell-Kok. However, we've had this contribution level at the bottom where you can get a ring from the Queen Samantha's Collection.

Well, I've got a picture of the ring to show you.

It is a 10k Gold Ring with 4 Diamonds and 3 Emeralds in a very tasteful arrangement. It was once a ring worn by the Eternal Empress of the East, but the Queen accidentally put it in her pocket while making a rare state visit.

What do you get with this Perk?

* Well, the ring.
* A letter of Authenticity from The Curator of the Queen Samantha's Collection
* An Adventure called "You All Meet in a Tavern" by Geoff Bottone
* The Two Maps (One Human and one Dwarven)
* The GSSC Alumni Shirt
* A Printed Copy of the Game
* The PDF

I think that's rather awesome, don't you?

Critical!: Go Westerly - Critical! A Go Go - Update the Fourth!

Hey Folks,

We've got the final cover art, without the text, for you to take a gander at.

I love it. This book is going to be so much fun.

Remember that you can contribute to the campaign at our Indie Go Go page. Contributors get cool things like maps, alumni t-shirts, their own character in the back of the book. There's even a diamond ring available, a real one which we'll probably be posting later today.

EDIT: The image doesn't show up well on this thing, so I'm going to just give you the link to the cover art.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Critical! A Go Go - Blog Update the Third

There is something awesome happening. We've got the logo for the GSSC alumni shirts ready thanks to Joe from Monkeyden Productions and the blog Underwear on the Outside. Joe is a great friend and he's been very supportive of the whole project from the get go, and he really was psyched to come up with the crest.

So here it is, in all it's glory.

I can't wait to get these on some shirts. Right now there are three people who are getting Almunist shirts. If you hurry you can join the ranks of the GSSC alumni over at the Indie Go Go page.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Critical! A Go Go - Update the Second

Hey Folks!

I hear some people might be a little hesitant to get in on the Indie Go Go page for Critical!: Go Westerly without seeing anything. Well, I'm here to give you an 8 page sample with one of my favourite sections available for anyone to just pick up and check out.

You can grab the sample here.

Once you've checked it out, if you are intrigued you can go to the Indie Go Go Page and get in on this campaign!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What a Year Makes - Geasa

Well, we've got 1 year of Geasa as a PDF at least under our belts. So I figured I would check out what that meant for us as a whole, I mean I'm just an itty bitty publisher and if you can get about 200-300 sales of your book out that's pretty damned good.

So, what are the numbers like? Remember, we do have two types of things to look at. The numbers for the purchase product and the numbers for the free product.

Geasa - FI10001

December 2010 - 30
January 2011 - 10
February - 7
March - 4
April - 0
May - 1
June - 1
July - 1
August - 2
September - 0
October - 2
November (unfinished)

Clearly I did this in November before it finished. Drivethru RPG is down so I can't get this data

Total: 58

Not a bad number. Now that we have the physical books out, I'd be interested in seeing what we get, but 58 copies of a game is fairly respectable. Especially when it's in PDF Format.

Geasa: Just the Rules - FI20001

December 2010 - 380
January 2011 - 106
February - 21
March - 16
April - 11
May - 13
June - 19
July - 8
August - 10
September - 6
October - 12
November (unfinished) - 1

Total: 602

Looking at these numbers

Geasa in book form - FI30001
IPR info is still a little on the sketchy side as they redo the website. However, when I go check to see the main page for Geasa I find that there are only 9 copies available. That means that there were 21 copies sold as well as the four preorder copies that I sent.

Sold to Retailers by me - 5
Sold to Individuals - 21
Preorders - 4
Sold to Individuals by me - 4

This puts the grand total of physical copies sold at 34, which is pretty cool when I think about the genesis of this game which was me being unhappy and writing down the rules on a streetcar ride on my way to work.

Ultimate totals?
Copies of the Game purchased = 92
Copies of the Game downloaded = 602

That works for me, and it makes me excited for what's going to happen when we get Critical!: Go Westerly out. You can help with that by going to our Indie Go Go Page and supporting the project. You can get cool things if you just sign up!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Traditions and Rituals - Card Games

I was listening to @JeffMarek on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast, which if you're a hockey fan you need to listen to, and Jeff Marek made a Euchre reference. I love it, because Euchre is one of those games that I've played for so long that I can pick it up and get back into the game without missing a beat. The rules aren't really something I know as much as they are ingrained into my very being.

Part of that is ritual. The Rituals in games are always interesting to me, because what I learned aren't the same as what you've learned. However, no matter where I've gone and played the game the rituals are never such that you're left scratching your head wondering where they came from. They may not be my rituals, but they are all part of the larger tapestry of playing cards.

The Pick-up
My favourite ritual in cards is that you don't pick up the cards until everyone has been dealt their hand. I remember being a child and wanting to pick up every single card as they came to me, so the anticipation could build with each card. It didn't take too long before this behaviour was corrected in my eight year old self.

I was told a variety of reasons why this was important. It was polite to make sure everyone had the same chance to look at their cards. It was a luck thing, and looking at the cards early was bad luck. Some people would organize their cards in a neat little pile, I will admit I'm one of those. Other people refuse to touch the cards at all until they've all been dealt.

No matter the reason, this little card ritual is something I find pretty fascinating. I'm going to go over a bunch of them as I think of them. If you've got any rituals that you do when playing cards, let me know and let's talk about them.

Also, please check out the Critical!: Go Westerly Indie Go Go page for some nifty options that you can get by ordering your copy of Critical!: Go Westerly now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Critical! A Go Go - Update!

A friend of mine asked about the The Adventurer level, and he said something that made me realize wasn’t totally clear. Originally, it was supposed to be that you got listed as an Adventurer in the book, but that’s not nearly awesome enough. For those who have the Adventurer level, you will get listed as an adventurer in the book. You won’t have any stats, but you’ll get about 150 words describing your Adventurer and your most notable exploits. No plain lists for us!

So to recap what do you get as an Adventurer?
The Adventurer: $70
One Copy of the PDF
One Signed and Numbered copy of the Book
One Gwendolyn School of Swordplay and Cookery Alumni shirt
Two Prints of the Map of Westerly, one is the Human version, and the other is the Dwarven version. (The Kobolds like the Dwarven version of the map.)
You will be listed in the book as a Adventurer, the kind people should look up to with 150 words in the book about your Adventurer!

What kind of adventurer will you be?

As always you can find the Indie Go Go page here.

Why we are using Indie Go Go

I had a couple of people ask me why we are using Indie Go Go rather than Kickstarter for the Critical!: Go Westerly opening extravaganza.

There are a couple of reasons. The first is that Amazon Payments don't like non USians. When I was looking into it, I tried to get something started there but it didn't like the fact that I didn't have a zip code.

Oh, they will be more than happy to take my money to pay for things, but they don't like the fact that I am not American when it comes time to give me money. This, of course sucks, because there are a lot more projects that create a lot more traffic over at kickstarter.

Now, the second reason that I am happy to go with Indie Go Go is that it offers flexible funding options. Kickstarter is an all or nothing proposition. When Dregg (aka James Carpio) put up the Spookybeans RPG and didn't meet his goals, he had to set up a whole new pre-order for the game. I bet he got about half of what he got in numbered from the kickstarter. I'll have to ask him.

At Indie Go Go, you can choose the flexible option when it comes to payment. This is acting a lot more like a preorder, because I offer people stuff I think is cool and in return I get to keep what is pledged no matter what the funding level is at the end.

The book is done, this is us getting you on the ground floor with awesome perks for being the first folk in on the game. In fact we are going to make an announcement about some upgrades to what we are offering.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Critical! A Go Go

Okay folks,

We've gone live with our fundraiser for Critical!: Go Westerly!

It's over at Indie Go Go!

However, I should point out that it isn't really a fundraiser. We can do this the normal way and pay for our artist out of pocket, as well as shell out for the printing. However, I want to give people cool stuff too. This is where you can get cool stuff. We'll post more details on the cool things as they come up.

Let's make this thing happen folks!

Critical!: Go Westerly - Why You Should Want It! Part 5

There are many reasons why you need to pick up Critical!: Go Westerly. I've listed them here, here, and here.

Want one more?

5. The game really is yours.

When we talk about the game being yours, we really mean it. The Critical! rule set is licensed under a Creative Commons license. Not just any CC license, but the BY-SA license which means you can take the rules, modify them how you want and then publish your own game with them. You can even sell it and try to be a hundredaire too.

For real. Go for it.

The world is also licensed under a Creative Commons license. It's slightly different, but it's a BY-SA-NC license. Which means you can go ahead and write what you want about the place. Hell, we want to hear your stories. Your table top adventures, your tales, your ideas, your stories, all of it. This is what makes the game yours, even more than just the fact that you can do with it what you want at home. Here we want you to do things with it in public.

So go have fun with the game. Just let us know all the cool things that you've done with it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Kobold Moment - Part 3 - After Adventurers

The Kobolds are back! This episode finds them cleaning up after some adventurers attacked.

The opening and ending music is taken from Tom Fay - Watchers under a CC BY-SA license.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly -- Why you should want it! Part 4

I can't get enough of Critical!: Go Westerly. That only makes sense since I was involved with the making of it. However, I can like my game all I want. The bigger question is why should you want it?

Well, there are a couple of reasons listed here and here. There are more, but I figured it's best if you're up to speed.

Here's another reason.

4. The Art

The art of Critical!: Go Westerly is pretty amazing. It's done by a single artist, Avery Liell-Kok, and you should totally check out her other work on her page that we just linked to. She's done lots of work for Joe from Monkey Den Production (the official page is here but Joe's non company stuff blog is over here) on his Superhuman game as well as some stuff for advanced dimensional green ninja educational preparatory super elementary fortress 555 (which I can never remember, for obvious reasons, when I'm face to face with Akira)which can be found on her website.

Actually Joe is how I met Avery, and I'm really glad that he managed to introduce us I think like ... five times or something like that. Anyway, here are some of the earlier sketched pieces that Avery did for Critical!: Go Westerly. There's a lot of character stuff, becaue that's what she did first, but it's all pretty freakin' awesome.

Here is Mary, our adventerous Tavern Wench.

Here is Marten Iij, our earstwhile Priest.

Finally, Urist the Too Tall Dwarf. I will admit that every single time I look at this image I laugh.

These aren't the final images, but they're close enough -- and awesome enough -- that I think you should see them.

Just one more reason why you need to pick up Critical!: Go Westerly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Teach Kids to Game Week - I think we have it backwards

There has been this thing happening, because games are always looking to swell the ranks (a laudable goal), where people are talking about how we need to teach kids how to game.

Despite what the title says I think this is a great idea. There are many cool boardgames and card games out there that are fun, educational and a family event. I believe that teaching these types of games help build things like literacy, math, problem solving, co-operation with people you are competing with, and how to be a gracious winner or loser.

Wait ... you meant teaching Roleplaying too.

Oh, right. This is where the title comes into play.

Kids already know how to roleplay. They do it all the time. What they don't do is roleplay like "grown ups." They don't take their rule books, and their supplements, and their dice and sit around a table waiting for someone to entertain them. Nope, they are active and engaged with their game. They want to tell stories with each other, and they aren't afraid to act them out too, in case LARPers were worried that they wouldn't be represented.  They want to do cool things, and crash hard only to get up again and defeat the odds. There is also that one kid who does nothing but want to play the bad guy, but I digress.

I know there is a knee jerk reaction, frequently found in many RPG books including my own, that talk about how RPGs are just like those halcyon days of playing pretend except with rules to prevent any arguments. Though I just laughed at that inside, but more on that later. You know, it is like playing Cops and Robbers except that there was no arguing about being got by someone's gun.

I am here to say that it is a load of hooey, or any similar word my Autocorrect feels like inserting. Those arguments do happen, but they are not the game under that we all make it out to be.  I have seen games grind to a stop because some obstinate grown up believes that the proper interpretation of the rule on page 162 of the third player's manual burner than I have seen kids fight over who got caught by the cops.

The reason for that is that kids are more interested in playing and adapting to situations than grown ups are. They are willing to go, 'oh. Okay" and move on rather than have to rely on a rulebook and a randomizer. Not that doing so amid a bad thing. Sometimes just the rolling of dice and seeing what comes up is great for rattling my imagination as an adult. However, I think that the conceit that we *have to teach roleplaying to kids* should be re-examined and possibly taken down a peg or two.

My hope for this week is that you played some great games with kids and that they taught you some things you have forgotten, or don't even think about.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Why You Should Want It! Part 3

Hey folks, this post is all about Geoff chiming in on why he thinks you should pick up Critical!: Go Westerly!

As the co-creator of Critical!: Go Westerly, I thought it would be a good idea for me to weigh in on why I think the game is pretty darn spiffy. After noodling around, I've decided to talk about a feature of our little game that I think is pretty important for game enjoyment and playability.

3. Depth

For a rules-light, light-hearted fantasy game, Critical!: Go Westerly has quite a bit of depth to it. This is evident in two key places: The Rules and the World.

The Rules

The rules of the game are simple and straightforward. We've tried to explain them as clearly and concisely as possible, and we've tried to keep the clutter to a minimum so that people who have never played the game before--which, at this early stage, is pretty much everyone--can grasp the rules and start playing in, at most, 20 minutes.

Despite all that, we've managed to pack quite a lot into those rules that allow for character growth and development. You can easily make a character that fits one of the Traditional Fantasy Archetypes(TM), using them.

If you'd like to do something a bit different, though, that's totally fine. We once had a character who was a former pig farmer turned adventurer (complete with pig animal companion). Not only was this an easy character to make using our rules-set, but such a character was no less viable or valuable than any fighter or wizard you could name.

The rules also allow for character growth and change. The game can obviously be played as a one-shot, but we also wanted there to be rules to allow for campaign play. The Bartender has an easy way to make tougher monsters, along with a formula that scales Gold rewards to match. The players have the ability to improve their characters' stats and skills in a simple and unique way (hint: It involves them describing a training montage).

The World

One of the things that Jonathan and I tried very hard to do was to make a game world that was funny and light without being goofy. That's a very hard line to walk, and we did it by making sure that, as much of a parody and a send-up as this game can be, it's also a real, functioning world with its own internally consistent logic.

On some level, the workings of the world are pretty complicated and realistic. You've got your succession wars and political strife, nefarious trade guilds, and monster-filled mountains. That's all good stuff, the fodder of hundreds of fantasy campaigns throughout the years.

In the Kingdom of Westerly, the succession war is about two kids named Gwendolyn and the ownership of a cooking school, the political strife comes from several factions who all want to secede, but can't decide how best to do it, the nefarious trade guild is also the one that deals in peat moss, and the monsters in the mountains are arranged, by Divine Decree, by height order, so that new adventurers have a fighting chance. Silly from an outsider's perspective, but serious for the people of Westerly, and with enough depth to provide the fodder for many, many adventures.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Other People Saying Nice Things

Hey folks!

Joe over at Underwear on the Outside said nice things about Critical!

Read it at his blog here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Kobold Moment - Part 2 - Answering your Letters

Hey Folks,

The Kobolds are back! Check them out and hear their wisdom.

The opening and ending music is taken from Tom Fay - Watchers under a CC BY-SA license.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Why You Should Want It! Part 2.

I think Critical!: Go Westerly is a great game. If I didn't, I wouldn't publish it. However, I think you should want to play Critical!: Go Westerly too. You can check out the other reasons why you should check out Critical!: Go Westerly here.
So why should you want Critical:! Go Westerly?

2. It's Easy to Use

Critical!: Go Westerly is a very simple and streamlined system. It's designed to be fun to create characters and easy to run if you're the Bartender. How does that work? A variety of factors come into play to make the game this easy.

Character Creation is fun, and not in a hugely time consuming way. It's fun because you have the power to use your skills, habits and items to help define your character. You want to play the Brawny fighter that loves to collect flowers? Use your skills to talk about your character's All too showy combat skills, their Impressive musculature, and their Ability to win the fight no matter the cost ... to their opponents. Give them the Habits of Compulsive collector and Stops to smell the flowers. Finish it with a couple of items like Impressive Big Large Sword and Shield with Flower standard, and you have a pretty good image of this character with a minimal amount of effort. It is fun and fast!

The mechanics are easy because it doesn't vary in how anything is dealt with. Once you know the mechanic, that's how pretty much everything works. Whenever you want to do anything that the Bartender thinks might be the slightest bit complicated they will make you roll. You get to use your Stats and one skill of your choice, as long as you can convince the bartender of its use, and roll two six sided dice based on the target's difficulty. Higher then the difficulty means you succeed, lower than the difficulty means you fail and if you get the target number exactly you get a Critical! which is one really good thing and one really bad thing. No matter what you're doing, that's how you end up doing it.

Monsters are easy since they are defined by their ability to hit things and to be hit by the players. When you kill them you get divinely handed out gold which you can use to upgrade your skills, buy new items, or bribe your Bartender when you really want two good things to happen.

Critical!: Go Westerly is a game that you can learn to play quickly, so that you spend your time enjoying your game rather than looking up the rules. I think that's a good reason to go and get it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let us play a blog game: Design by line

Okay. Just had a weird idea. Let's make a game together. Not in the regular let us develop something way, but kind of how we would do one of those creative writing games you do in a class or a writing group.

The rules are that you get to write one line of rules text and it has to relate to the previous line of rules. You don't have to make it fit anything that has gone before.

Just so you are aware, I think we should make this all a creative commons BY-SA license. That way anyone can use what is put up here. Not that I think we are going to get a helluva lot of traffic on this, but I still think it is amusing.

I'll start.

You pick up a D12 and roll it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Kobold Moment - Part 1 - Meet Your Kobold

Hey Folks,

Critical! Go Westerly is awesome! However, you don't have to take our word for it. We've gathered a couple of experts to give us some insight on why you should pick up Critical! Go Westerly.

The opening and ending music is taken from Tom Fay - Watchers under a CC BY-SA license.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Why You Should Want It? Part 1.

You may have heard that we're coming out with a game called Critical!: Go Westerly. I might have talked about it on this blog a few times. I might have talked about it on Voice of the Revolution and with the folks at Bacon Ice Cream. Geoff Bottone, who wrote the game with me, also had some things to say about the game with the Bacon Ice Cream crew.

Clearly, I like this game. I like this game a lot.

Why should you like this game? Well, I'm going to give you reasons why you should like this game. They're going to be in easy to digest snippets so that I don't overwhelm you with the awesome.

1. The game is funny.

Critical!: Go Westerly is funny. I know people might argue that funny is subjective but the game is actually funny, and it's funny not necessarily because of what we've done. Westerly is a pretty funny place, with all sorts of things that are just off kilter enough to make you crack a smile or laugh out loud. I mean, we've got a Punk Rock Anarcho-Primitive group of Faeries called the Anarcho-Fantasmagoria. That's pretty funny.

The System makes the game funny. Criticals! mean you get one really good thing, and one really bad thing. For GMs, or Bartenders as we like to call them, this gives you plenty of opportunity to create funny opportunities out of your player's successes. It's also a great moment for the players to see what they're going to get. Despite their ability to try to bribe their way to two successes rather than one success and one failure, most players I've found can't wait to see what problems they're going to have to deal with.

Ultimately, what makes Critical!: Go Westerly funny though is you, the player. What we've done is allow you the space to input what you think is funny rather than just try to smother you with what we think is funny. In character creation you get to name your skills whatever you want, so if you think having a skill called "Master Scum Sucker" is funny then do it. If you believe that having a Habit, what helps to define your character, called "Makes more sense in Rhyme" then go for it. Argue with your Bartender, but not too much, about why your "Good with small, fiddly bits" skill is useful in a scene where you have to help deliver a Dwarven baby. Push your funny agenda with your character, and enjoy the laughs all the more.

That's why you should pick up Critical!: Go Westerly.

Monday, October 17, 2011

News Flash - Priviledged Person Defends Said Priviledge in face of measured POC rebuttle ...

In other news, water still wet.

Picked up from Deeper in the Game originally. I had thought it would lead me to an thread or something similar but I wasn't too surprised that I ended up a Story Games.

Basically, to sum up the [rage inducing thread over at Story Games]( it breaks down like this.


"Hey folks, can someone please let me know what went wrong between the white European colonists and the First Nations that lived on the land? Why were all the treaties broken, and stuff."

"Um, here is my sadly funny anecdote that explains colonialism and the push of the Europeans to remove the 'Savages' from the neighbourhood. Get it?"

"Hey, you should check out Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee!"

"Oh! Did I mention I wanted this information because in my fantasy world the Native people are Orcs. That's cool, right?"

"You know that's been done before, and what you're setting up is the same tired stereotype that perpetuated again. You can't give people human rights if ... you know ... they aren't human."

"I get what you're saying. But I totally think what I'm doing is awesome. I know it could be problematic, for the reasons you listed but I'm totally different because I'm different. I'm awesome."
"I used it before. It's totes awesome!"


I'm really, really tired of gamers trying to completely and utterly erase or rewrite First Nation's experience and using it as a cute cultural metaphore. I know that was my huge complaint two years ago when it came time to review the Game Chef 2010 games. I'll just leave you with a quote from Deeper in the Game.

But also: why would you ask this question on a gaming forum instead of a history site? Why would you lead off without mentioning the point until halfway through, if you didn’t actually think there was something problematic about it? What part of “Gotcha! You’re genocidal war criminals!” part of game playing is fun?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

[Need a Catchy Contest Name] - Webcomics!

I was recently at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) and I got to thinking. There was that whole kerfuffle in the community about licensed products and their viability and blah, blah, blah. Lot of people complaining about games and kind of missing the point.

Make games that you want to make, and play games that you want to play. By all means experiment and try new things, because doing nothing but the same thing rots your brain, but play what you like.

With that in mind, I had an idea. Why don't we see if we can do that. Pick a webcomic that you enjoy and try to turn it into a game. Find what makes the comic work and then try to turn that into a game. Any game fits. A card game, a board game, an RPG. Let your imagination fly.

Despite the utter failure success of the last contest, I think doing another one quickly is good. Keeps the creative juices flowing.

Just because you're doing stuff with a web-comic, doesn't mean that you have their permission. That means you can't use any of that artist's art, unless you have permission and at that point in time you'd probably just go ask if you can product the RPG/Card Game/Board Game for them anyway.

You don't have to go that far, but you can if you want. They key thing is to replicate the feel of the comic.

How do I enter?

1. Well, post here expressing your interest and what webcomic you're using as your inspiration.
2. When your game is done, post it in the completion thread over at the "What's been done" post with a link to the game.
a. If it's an RPG, a link to the PDF is fine.
b. If it's a card game, a link to the rules and a PDF of the cars works.
c. Board game see above, though if you have specialty pieces you're gonna wanna tell us how to make them.

Well, this last contest went until September, how about we call this one for January 31st, 2012. That means you've got four months to get your stuff together and see what you can come up with.

Judging Criteria
Me and a panel of me will be the judges on this one. Not because I think I'm overly qualified for this, but because I think it'd be kind of cool to judge this. We're going to do it, a la dancing with the stars kind of judging. I'm going to give each game a rating, based off of the criteria below, and then we'll use that as the base point value. Then we'll have a vote off to determine the winner.

The Criteria are:
1. Completeness: Can we play the game, or does it feel like it needs a lot more work.
2. Fun: Is the game fun to play? Does it do the things that make you want to play it again, or continue the campaign.
3. Mayhem: How much mayhem is there? Blood all over the ice, or does it feel like too goons tweeted to stage a fight?
4. Look: How good does the game look? Is it pretty, is it awesome looking? Does it inspire the crowd to riot when their team wins?

Each is based out of 10 and that will provide the base score.

I'll make one too, it just can't enter the contest. There may be something cool at the end, I don't know. I may not have the power of an OGB behind me, but maybe a gift card for IPR, or Drivethru of undetermined value would be up for grabs.

That's right, I'm not cool enough to get people on my own. I'm going to have to bribe them with piddly sums of non transferable cash.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Let's Play Conventioning! - Undwear on the Outside

There's a nifty little game that Joe over at Underwear on the Outside. It's an assassins like Business Card. I like the idea, I just think the text is a little much considering the size of the paper it's going to be on.

Here's me doing a little re-write of it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Geasa - We've got Book Sign!

Hey Folks,

I just got my order of Geasa books in! This is awesome.

Now, because of a couple of things that were unforseen I need to raise the price to 20.00$ rather than the 15 that it is now. However, if you get the book in the next two weeks you can get it for the 15.00 that it is now.

Currently, IPR is experiencing some difficulties. You can get back to the page, but it's not branded anymore.

Because of that I'll be trying to opening a store on my own site, as well as the stuff that's going to IPR. Until the end of September if you want to pick up your copy of Geasa you can for $15! After that it will go up to it's new price of $20!

So, get 'em while they're hot?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out by Standing On Your Head

The title here might not make sense to a lot of people. In fact, it's going to probably make sense to about three people off the top of my head that might even remotely look at this thing. See, "Standing On Your Head" is a cliche used by many announcers who watch when a Goaltender does everything he or she can to keep the puck out of the net.

That's right folks, my Geek Out is totally Hockey.

You have to understand a few things about me. First of all, I'm Canadian and am one of those contractually obligated to be obsessed with Hockey so that those who don't have an interest can still maintain their stereotype. That's right, I'm a Hockey Sponsor.

Beyond that, I started playing Hockey when I was five and continued until I was 17 and no longer eligible for House League play. That's 12 years of dedication to a sport without any real thought towards playing it beyond when I would age out, or men's league after that. I mean, we used to play road hockey down the street and we'd all be the person who would score the goal that would win The Cup (and yes, The Stanley Cup is capitalized) and we'd run around with our hands up in the air making fools of ourselves on gloriously frozen winter nights where the streetlights became stadium lights and the snowbanks were the places you would take a check and rest for a moment or two.

I love this game. Hockey is seriously the best combination of every other sport out there. It's a game that requires the teamwork of Basketball, the precision of Baseball, the strength of American Football and puts metal blades on it's feet and makes it run at high speeds.

I love this game because it's got huge amounts of tradition and weird little rituals that make no sense to a lot of other sports ... well, except maybe baseball fans. The Trophys all have names, that people use. We've got the Conn Smythe, The Hart, the Vezina, the freakin' Lady Bing (for the most sportsman like player for those who don't know), The Calder, The Art Ross and a whole pile of others. Every single trophy has a name attached to it, unlike other sports where only one or two have names or the names aren't really used. In Hockey, you know those names. They're writ large even if the award show is usually not all that great.

I love this game because this commerical and this commercial make me cry, almost every single time.

I love this game so much that despite the fact that I a Montreal Canadians fan, I can appreciate a good game or play even if it means my team loses.

Yeah, I geek out just a little bit for Hockey. I read blogs on it for crying out loud. My favourite being Puck Daddy, edited by Greg Wyshynski who is himself a pretty huge Geek. There used to be a radio show, which is currently no more because of the Score Radio getting cut, and it was what I looked forward to listening to on my overnight shift. If you want to start learning about Hockey, you should read that blog. Not only does it give you a really good, in depth, and easy to grasp view into hockey, the blog also provides you with a lot of different perspectives on hockey. They've got a crack team and it's pretty freakin' awesome.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Books -- They are Coming!

Okay, I'm only a lot excited.

I got a notification that the books for Geasa should be at my door on Thursday evening. That means that people are going to get their stuff soon. Woo!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I gots Interviewed! -

One of the fun things that happened was an interview with Scott Wachter at Fan Expo 2011. We talk about the pun that is my company name, CyberGeneration, Geasa and Critical!: Go Westerly and some future projects!

You can listen to it here!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RPG Review Recess -- Bulldogs! Fuck yeah!

Another book that I picked up at Gen Con this year was Bulldogs! Sci-Fi that Kicks Ass! by Brennan Taylor and Brian Engard. Now, I got to see bits of the alpha, which made me really want to get the book, so when Brennan said that there would be copies available at Gen Con I knew I had to make my way to the IPR booth at some point in time during the convention.

Well, I made it there on Thursday during when all the VIG's got into the con and I said hello to Darren and asked if there were any Bulldogs! available. He pointed me to the stack and I took the top one and say that it was 200/200 that was signed. Now, I'm not a huge person that needs to get their books signed but it was one of the serendipitous moments that just worked. I picked up the book then and there and have enjoyed every single minute of it.

First of all, this needs to be move out of the way, Bulldogs! and Galileo Games wins at FATE. I bet you didn't know there was a competition, well there is. Every other FATE book I have read, skimmed through, or looked at is working to be the largest book that they can possibly be. Spirit of the Century, Kerberos Club FATE Edition, Dresden Files are all FATE books that are huge. It's like they're trying to see how big the book can be. Now, that's not a knock on FATE games, I'm just saying that most of them ... pretty big books. Malcolm made the joke at Fan Expo that they're great for pickup games, you pick up three and curl them and see how many times you can do that.

Bulldogs! wins because it's not nearly as big as the rest of those books. It still uses FATE, and does some really wonderful things with it, but everything is just more compact. It also wins because it's a great game, but the fact that it's got one of the most concise versions of FATE can't be overlooked at all.

What I like about it
The game itself is brilliant. I love the concept, that you all play people who signed up to be the ones who run the D class ships for a Corporation who will make money on you if you fulfill the requests or die and allow them to claim the insurance.

I love how the captain is defined by the players, and the ship are defined by the players.
I love how the ship is always a wreck no matter what you try to do with it.
I love the focus on adventure and space opera rather than the nitty gritty SF.
I love how FATE is used in this game. It should really be the benchmark for using FATE.

If you want to play a Space Opera game with a lot of action and excitement, this is the game to get. Get it now. No, seriously.

What I don't like about it
Um, it's really picking at nits but this would have to be the book where I feel that the art isn't up to the same standards as the other books. Mortal Coil is amazing, and done by Jennifer Rodgers, to How We Came to Live Here, I don't have the artist's name on hand but they are amazing, to Kingdom of Nothing by Jeff Himmelman. I know it's supposed to be campy, and fun, and it is. It's just not as campy and fun as I think it could have been.

This is the best FATE game you're going to pick up. If you want high action in Space, you should pick it up right now. RIGHT NOW. That way you too can read through the book and make your own alien species.

[Need a Catchy Contest Name] - Post your Final Product Here

For all of you not paying attention, we've got a contest that's going on where you have to Blood-bowlify a winter sport. The original thread is here if you missed it. Well, with a month and a bit left to go I thought I'd post the link that allows you to put forward you finished product.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fan Expo 2011 - The Wrap Up

Ah ... Fan Expo. What can I say about Fan Expo? I enjoy the person who runs the gaming section, I enjoy sitting down and playing games. I enjoy waiting for that shoe to drop that makes us all look at each other and go, "Uh-oh ... here we go again."

This year that was the fact that all the gaming panels but one, the GM Masterclass one, got canceled for lack of space. Not that we were picky, basically the Gaming Track got to pick at the bottom of the barrel. Okay, that's not fair ... the Tabletop Gaming track got to try to scrape something together and in the end there was nothing left for us.

That said, there was a lot of good stuff going about. The Catalyst Folk were in force and doing what they do best which is running Battletech and Leviathans all day, every day of the con. Snakes and Lattes had a presence there, where you could just sit down and they would teach you boardgames. It's impressive when you consider that the place is usually full whenever I walk by, so the fact they where there was nice. Managed to play some Lemming Mafia and Hey! That's My Fish (and they were my fish damn it!).

The people who make Dungeon Crawler, Jay from Gifted Visions, was there and they were busy demoing their game. Malcolm showed up, and we had a good chat. Then Mikael showed up and he played some stuff with Justin, Amber and me. Brought out Blood Bowl: Team Manager and had a blast with it.

I think maybe I should have done more stuff at the con, but I'm glad I just got to sit back and relax. I didn't expect much of the con, it's the con that usually has then "when something goes wrong" feel rather than the "if something goes wrong" feel.

Next stop, Hammercon. I was going to go to Metatopia (and if you are in the area you should, it's going to be a developer gold mine) but I just can't afford another large trip. Gotta pay off the trips from this past year before I can start going off again on others.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fan Expo - 2011 - What's going on?

People might be wondering where I am going to be this weekend, that will be at Fan Expo happening at the MTCC, which is right smack in the middle of downtown Toronto right next to the CN tower.

What am I scheduled to do there? Nothing! I haven't got any games, and the panels we were supposed to do got kneecapped. However, we're working on something where we can have a little impromptu-kind of sit down conversation thingy with some of the guests. I'm not 100% sure where, or what's going on but you can check here, the Facebook Page, or more likely the twitter account for updates as to what's going on.

I'll be bringing games, lots of them, and I hope that folks want to sit down and have a good time playing. I'll be in the gaming area, which is I think the 701 room.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

RPG Review Recess - Unhallowed Metropolis

One of the two books I picked up at Gen Con was Unhallowed Metropolis. I love Horror Games, I pick them up almost out of habit, but this one I was looking forward ever since I first heard about the game.

Now, something you need to know about me. The older I get, the less I enjoy fiddly bits. Fiddly bits, those little bits and pieces of games that so easily get lost. They're the million or so pieces that come with games, the ones that are all vitally important to how the game functions and heavens help you if you lose one or two pieces. The parts of RPGs that requires an encyclopedic knowledge on how every thing works. You know what I'm talking about, I'm talking about Pathfinder and the bajillion and two feats that you need to know in order to make sure that the players aren't powered to the point of being boring ... you get the picture. I'm not a big fan of 4e either, with all the card powers stuff. It's the same kind of thing, but now everything you do is one of those little card things.

Annoying. Massively so.

Unhallowed Metropolis is kind of filled with fiddly bits.

I don't care one whit.

The basic premise of the game is that the zombie apocalypse happened, it just started in 1905 rather than say today. Any major city was pretty much wiped out, as not only did the zombies just appear out of nowhere, but any bite led to infection which led to more zombies which led to further destruction. Humanity had to live on the outskirts until they co-ordinated themselves enough to fight back. The game itself takes place I think in 2150 which is some time after the British managed to reclaim London.

I love this game because it's got a huge social stratification, the upper classes don't mingle with the commoners if they want to avoid scandal. The poorer places in town, notably the East End, is full of poverty, desperation and spontaneous animate outbreaks. You've got a people who had their technological advance halted in the early 20th century and are figuring things out that we take for granted. There are body snatchers, mad scientists, broken war veterans and a blighted country-side that has pockets of survivability. It truly is an amazingly bleak setting.

That's one thing that I love about this game. The setting is both original, in depth, stark, dark and rather deadly. You have to worry all the time about the GM springing an animate outbreak on you, especially if you're playing a group of people who live in the East End. You can try to pretend that the outside threat doesn't exist, but it's always got the potential to just explode from the city itself. I love the disconnect that the upper classes feel the right to since it really only happens to those of the lower class.

The system itself is where you get all the fiddly bits. You have to pick a role, I don't have the book on hand so I can't check out what they're called officially, and every role has their own special features that you can pick. Now, they aren't all specific to one role. Some of them overlap, and all of them make sense. They're all special rules and abilities that just that one character gets.

*sigh* Fiddly bits.

Another amazing part of the game is that everyone is corrupt. There is no way to escape this. There is something eating at your body, your soul or your mind that causes you to be, a little darker than you should be. This leads to a few more fiddly bits, things you're going to have to keep track of in regards to negative effects on your character.

*sigh* Fiddly bits.

The mechanic is a 2d10 mechanic, and it is set up in such a way that you've got a pretty good chance at succeeding at most things. The problem that occurs, especially in combat, is that everything else also has a good chance at succeeding at what they do which is killing and/or eating you.

Despite all the fiddly bits, that normally would drive me up the wall, I can't wait to play this game, or run this game. Hell, I'd love to run this game as a LARP, because it would just be that awesome. It'd have all the societal maneuvers of Victorian London with the very real threat of zombies. You could have three of four different groups doing different things, I mean having the Deathwatch have to corral some annoyed Noblefolks would be a great scenario. You could make the LARP book just as beautiful as the main book which is filled with amazing photographs and really good illustrations. To be fair, I wanted more of the photography but I'm not going to complain. The book is very, very pretty.

Ultimately this is, for me, a game that shows that a phenomenal setting can overcome personal problems that you might have with a system. They even tackle trickier problems like mental illness in the game, and very explicitly tell you that if you're looking for an excuse to play 'the crazy person' then maybe you had best find a different game. Even if you don't agree with how they went about implementing things like mental illness in a game, or even if it should be in the game, the fact that they took the time to tell people who play "crazy" in games off is worth it for me. Get it, get it now and scare the hell out of each other while being incredibly snooty at the same time.

Unhallowed Metropolis is one of the best settings I have ever seen. It's the future after the zombie apocalypse hits in 1905. It's dark, deadly, scary and worth every penny you spend on this gorgeous book.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly and hard copies of Geasa - Update

Hey Folks!

Quick update in regards to the book. So far, it's looking like December will be the release date for the book. If you're interested, we've got the amazingly talented Avery Liell-Kok doing all the art for the book. You can check out the link that is her name and it will take you to her portfolio site. I'm excited to see what she is going to produce for the game.

As for Geasa, I still haven't heard back from the printer. They were supposed to be on the line as of three weeks ago which I assume means that they're done. However, they haven't gotten back to me at all which makes me a tad nervous. I'll keep you all posted as to what's going on there. If this happens again I'm more than likely going to have to change printers for Critical!: Go Westerly.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll answer them as quickly as I can.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Previously Generated - Bulldogs! - The Erlamigel

It's not surprising that many people haven't heard of the Erlmaigel. They are a pretty common star-faring race, but years of evolution have taught the Erlmaigel to hide everything from everyone, including people they know and trust. It's what happens when you evolve on a planet where you are considered a most delicious prey. You learn how to hide really well, but the Erlmaigel took that one step further and integrated themselves into predator societies by taking the form of the creatures that would hunt them. They learned how they moved, and their habits and eventually grew smart enough not just to hide within the ranks of their enemies but to use the information they had gathered against them.

This led to the rise of the Erlamigel on their own world, Erlami which is located on the periphery of the Frontier Zone though they never seemed to be able to get off world. Then, a couple of Pan Galactic Ships landed on the planet, looking for some wild game to take with them for someone within the Nova Corps of the Templari's hunting grounds, when an Erlami snuck on board and managed to integrate themselves as part of the crew. This allowed them to steal the technology needed in order to create their own space ships.

That's when they took to the stars, though again in limited numbers, to learn what they possibly could from everywhere else. The Erlamigel don't really create or innovate, they steal and adapt from others for their own use. That means if you find someone on the Erlmaigel ship that looks strangely like something you've created on your own, you had best make sure that you don't have a spy among you.

The Erlamigel as a society is very odd, they tend to be loners and work individually but they seem to be more than happy to come across others of their kind. In turn they will share whatever information they have with each other, in a strange telepathic kind of way that only works with members of their own kind, whom they call 'my cousin.' It is believed, once the Erlmaigel were discovered, that this allowed them to transmit information from one to another while they were infiltrating various enemy groups. As individuals, they feel most at home impersonating others. Once they are seen in their regular form, which consists of humanoid looking creature with white skin they seem to panic and do anything they can to escape.

Once the Erlamigel were discovered, they quickly gained use as spies and infiltrators for various organizations. However, there is a high price to pay for these creatures, none of the information that they get for you is for your use only. The Erlmagiel will gladly share any information with any other Erlamigel, it is how they survive for centuries amidst tougher being on their planet, so there is a chance that information you don't want will fall into the hands of others. There are many that feel that this risk can be mitigated enough that hiring these beings as spies is worth the risk.

Erlmagiel Names
Erlmagiel names aren't really spoken. They know each other by various means, so instead they tend to take on the names of the races that they emulate the most. Gender is irrelevant for most of them since they're able to shift, a lot like Saldrallans, which leads people to believe that they have amphibian or reptilian ancestry.

Typical Erlmagielian Aspects

I absolutely need to know that!
Invoke: You're genuinely curious about things, and you can pick up pertinent information where others don't.
"No really, I'd love to hear, in detail, about how you managed to modify the viscosity of the oil to create faster speeds!"
Compel:You don't know when it's not a good idea to ask.
"Can you tell me the story about how you fell from disgrace and totally ruined your family name, again?"

Trapminded Deviousness
Invoke: If there's a trap that needs to be created, you know how to set it up.
"My people have fought with the Qu'Linar for centuries. We know their weaknesses, and we know how to set them up for a fall."
Compel: You tend to be a bit petty and can't really stand up the fight even if it's the best course of action.
"We can't fight them head on. We'll get ourselves killed. We need to find a way to trick them."

The Stillness of the Undergrowth
Invoke:You can avoid moving to avoid being seen by predators, or overzealous guards.
"Don't move, and they won't see you. Blend into your surrounding and the Qu'Linar will ignore you. They think they have more important things to kill."
Compel:You tend to want to hide rather than run.
"Stop running! They'll see us!"

I love talking to friends and family!
Invoke:You tend to have friends in places other people wouldn't expect.
"My cousin is in that ship, I'm sure we can find a way to help both sides escape."
Compel:You let slip information that the crew might not want to get out.
"I just told my cousin that we had the shipment of high grade Zinorcium that they were looking for.

No one can see me naked!
Invoke:You have such an aversion for people seeing you as you are, that you will go to any length to prove that you are who you say you are.
"See, I told you that I'm Nova Captain Akryl. Torture me all you like!"
Compel:If you are seen without a persona on, you just want to escape.
"Look at that white creature! It's trying to cut through the hull to escape! That's madness!"

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Invoke:You're amazing at copying things that you've seen only once.
"I can remake that engine part. I studied it not too long ago, and this should be easy."
Compel:You're not good at improvising when things break.
"Um, what do you mean we have to build a different one? I've never seen a 'different one'."

Erlmagielian Special Abilities [-3]

No Natural Attack [+1]
As a herbivore, the Erlmagielian don't have any natural defenses other than their ability to integrate into other groups. If you come across one in their regular form, they have no natural ability to attack which is one of the reasons why their instinct is to hide or get away.

Shapeshifting: True Shapeshifting [-4]
Erlmagielian can change their shape to fit the needs of the group that they're infiltrating. Literally they will seamlessly go from group to group gathering information, though they can be discovered as the personality doesn't change at all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Geasa and the Fear of Failure

If you read my Gen Con 2011 you know that I ended up running a game of Geasa for a group of people that didn't go so well. In the almost two years since I started running it, through play-testing and at conventions before and after it was published, only one game could compare to it in regards to it not going as well but the difference there was that the people seemed to be having more fun during the first game.

I thought it would be a great game when I walked up to the table. There was a group of people who knew each other, and they seemed to have a really good rapport. They were busy chatting, and playing a dice game that they seemed to be really enjoying. They seemed to be able to play off of each other in a relaxed and easy way. Not that this is mandatory to play Geasa, but if you're able to play off of each other and trust the people you're with then what RPG won't be better for it?

What happened during the game was that I got a lot of blank looks from the people around me. That group of four, the fifth guy was trying his best but he had just run a game and really was busy kind of zoning out after that mental exercise, just didn't want to do anything much. They kept looking to me to tell them what to do, and the only advice I could give them is "tell us what you want to do." That didn't seem to be the answer they wanted and we continued to do our best to muddle about our Carribean Sea Side town. After two rounds I had a sense that I was dealing with a group of people who were used to having a particularly strong GM who they were used to deferring to. It also wasn't hard to figure out who it was. While I was busy trying to coax the younger players into telling me what they wanted, and what they felt that they saw he would just get flustered and ask if he could take over and give a long narration about just exactly what was going on.

Not to knock the guy, he was really good at that. The scenes were evocative and really quite breath taking. The problem is that they kind of missed the point. The reason why I always try to have people explain their own scenes because once they get over that hump they gain the confidence to start getting involved in the game more. However, whenever they would start to fumble there was GM dude ready to swoop in and do the job.

The problem is that he never really got into the game as well. He spent most of it with all his dice in front of him and didn't really do anything with them. He never really challenged for things, or did stuff that would kinda of make people jump up and get in the way. He shrank away from anything that might be a confrontation, and it hit me what the problem was. He was afraid of failing. He didn't want bad things to happen to his person, and so he was playing close to his chest.

That's perhaps the worst way you can play Geasa. In Geasa, bad things happen to your people. That's kind of the point, they can overcome, they can move beyond, or they can end up stuck in the cycle of their own downfall. The first step is risking things and pushing where you might fail. That's the only way you can be an active participant in the story. Without doing that, you're just a passenger watching as other people shape the story which is as boring an experience as you can have.

In order to fly, you've gotta forget failure and just jump.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CyberGeneration Announcement!

Well, since Kathryn over at the CyberGen Webcomic, CyberGen2027 made a bit of an announcement I guess I should make it official here and on the website.

Firestorm Ink has officially given up the CyberGen License.

It's been a really long and hard six years working on that line, and trying to come up with the products that we thought would do well with it. We've met with mixed success, and with the feedback we're getting with Geasa and Critical!: Go Westerly, we felt that it was for the best that we focus on our products and games, since that's where the future lies for us.

It's been a great ride, with a lot of great memories but now that time has passed. I'd like to thank anyone and everyone who showed up to the events, bought our CyberGeneration stuff and were a great support. We'll still be selling the supplements that we created, but we won't be making any more.

Right now Shapeshifter Studios, the same people who do CyberGen2027, are in negotiation for the rights to make the RPG. We wish them well, and will help support them if they do get the rights, so we're not completely going to keep our fingers out of that pie. We're just not going to be responsible for baking it anymore.

Report - Gen Con 2011 - The Turning Point

Normally I find that I have a lot more fun at Origins than I do at Gen Con. It just seems to me that the atmosphere was far more relaxed than anything at Origins while at Gen Con it's nothing but pushing as fast as you can all the time.

This year was the Turning Point. This year I walked in and felt like I was going to have a lot more fun this year than the I've ever had. We had arrived in on Wednesday, because I come in with the Canadian Contingent for Catalyst (yay Alliteration), I had a day to just kind of acclimatize myself. No more rushing to get there and jumping right in, it was a far more pleasant experience. Maybe it was the better mindset that I was coming in with, there's an announcement that's coming forward that might have something to do with that, but it was just different, and better.

That being said what happened to me at Gen Con?

Games that I ran:
I had two games of Geasa go off and 1 game of Critical!: Go Westerly go off. That means that the one CyberGen game that supposed had 6 people, and in reality only had one, failed ... again. I'm sure that this is a sign that I'm only not slowly starting to understand here, I think I'll get it eventually.

Geasa Game 1
We ended up playing in the second century, with a Devil trying to be good, an Angel trying to understand humanity, the head of the Catholic Church and a Macedonian Spy looking to get out with his information.

A couple of great Fae moments. The Spy was trying to escape and instead had to stick around because of his Fae. He ended up just paying half of his travel costs when he was compelled to investigate a fire because it might have to do with his mission. Annoying, certainly and he railed about it a little bit.

The second bit was right at the end when the Angel, trying to negotiate between the Church and the Old Believers for peace ends up being compelled to blame the Old Believers that they had made up that someone had stolen their artifacts and riots in the streets ensued. Which is where we ended it because of time.

Geasa Game 2
The second game of Geasa didn't go as well, mainly because the group mostly didn't get it. When four fifth of the table sit there and wait for you to tell them what's going on it's hard to run a GMless game. They had an interesting dynamic between them, because they had come in as a group. You could tell who was their GM and how they were used to just kind of letting him go, and most certainly he could go and tell a great description and a wonderful narrative, but he just didn't seem to be able to let go. It got me thinking and will probably lead to a blog post on Geasa later on.

Anyway, they were a motley group of characters. We had a pirate trying to reform, we had a fisherman who lost his ship to taxes, a smuggler on the run from his former employer, a tavern wench wanting something more and a noble dandy looking to escape an arrange marriage. When I saw this I went, "Hey, this is the best start of a pirate crew ever" but I didn't say anything because I like to watch the stories develop but it kept stalling. Not what I had in mind, but the story in question. Eventually it culminated with their GM guy going, "I don't know where we're going! I don't know how to get there."

Now maybe I got lazy and didn't explain goals enough, because that's supposed to be what drives you. Maybe it was a case that I should have taken a far more proactive approach to what's going on. Maybe Geasa isn't for everyone and some people are going to have a hard time with it. Whatever the reason, I don't think my answer of "Well, we'll find out when we get there" satisfied him, but oh well.

Critical!: Go Westerly
The Game of Critical went off beautifully as well. Geoff and/or I will have to come up with a new scenario for the next con season, but we'll have a couple of months to pound that out. However, You All Meet in a Tavern ended up with some gems for lines.

Stelph: "Is this Human Seawater? Elven Seawater is far superior."
Angelique: "You just suck the fun out of every trap."
Barnabus: "There you go perpetuating stereotypes. 'Peaceful Protestors' and 'Blood-thirsty elves'"

I really can't wait to get this book out. We've commissioned the art, and now it's just the last edits and the getting of the book together.

The Stuff that Came Out and/or I Picked Up

I managed to pick up a copy of Bulldogs! and Unhallowed Metropolis Revised. I also got a copy of Blood Bowl Team Manager which is perhaps the best deck building game I have played (Yes it's a Deck Building Game, but it's not the only focus of the game). I picked up Escape from Aliens in Outer Space which looks pretty damned awesome but I want to wait until I have at least 6 people playing.

Smirk and Dagger ended up putting out an amazingly addictive Dice Game called Suttaku which I think everyone should go and pick up. It's got 12 beautifully created large dice for stacking and is one of those games that you can play quickly and end up playing 10 games before you feel any desire to stop, but then you pick up the dice and you just want to keep rolling.

What Else?
I ran into the awesome people that I always run into. I got to laugh, and have fun and enjoy myself and feel that Firestorm Ink is actually doing stuff, and possibly stuff that people want to see.

Now to finish up Bulldogs! and Unhallowed Metropolis ... and Eclipse Phase (which I should have done ages ago).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gen Con - Where to find me (If you care enough to look)

Gen Con is upon us, and while we're all waiting to go I figured I'd tell you where I'm going to be in case you want to say hello.

Most of my time is going to be spent at the Smirk and Dagger booth which is located at 1621. It's a 10 x 20 booth, so it should be easy to spot. Just look for the people having a better time than anyone else.

As for the schedule of events that I'm running, here's what we've got:

RPG1119295 :: An Evening of Curses :: Geasa :: Thursday 3:00 PM :: Location: Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Blrm B : 4

RPG1119298 :: A New Dawn, A New Day, A New Life :: CyberGeneration, Evolution 3.0 Edition :: Thursday 9:00 PM :: Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Blrm B : 1

RPG1119296 :: An Evening of Curses :: Geasa :: Friday 3:00 PM :: Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Blrm B : 5

RPG1119297 :: You all Meet at a Tavern :: Critical!, 0.5 Edition :: Saturday 3:00 PM :: Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Blrm B : 2

Now there have been some set back in regards to Evolution 3.0 of CyberGeneration so I may have to substitute a game of Critical! but I hope the people there will be forgiving.

It appears I'll be spending a lot of my time in the Crowne Plaza, which is totally fine. It's nice to be in the same spot again and again, makes the con that little bit easier.

See you all there!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dex Con 2011 - Everybody Loves the Funny

My second con in three weeks just happened, and it's Dex Con in Morristown New Jersey. It's one of the largest local cons in the North East for gaming (where I include Toronto and anything 8 hours away for me, your geography may vary). I love this convention for a variety of reasons. I've gone there now for I believe it's six years and I've gotten to know a lot of the people there very well. A lot of my best friends when it comes to gaming are there, and so my glasses are coloured by that.

It's also a place where a lot of the NE Indie designers show up to test their new games. The joke is that if a game survives Dex Con then it's good to go. Most of the games that I've made have been improved from the feedback that people are more than willing to give. It's a great place to make your game that much better. That being said, let's talk about the games I did run, or that were run.

Critical!: Go Westerly
Wow. This con was the con that really showed me that this is going to be a good book when it comes out. We had three games go off, there might have been four but the midnight to 4 am slot isn't one that I can do easily anymore, which I'm going to call a 100% success rate, which always surprises me.

We ran two instances of You All Meet in a Tavern, though Geoff ran them off on a different adventure than the one that was written, and there was a lot of good times had. I think the best part of the game I ran was Brennan, who was playing Marten, was quite gentlemanly and made sure that all the gold was split evenly between the party. I think much to the surprise of the other players, who then expressed their guilt over the fact that they did try to screw over Marten at various points in the game for gold. I was amused greatly.

Geoff told me about his game, and for me the best part was when the player realized that crawling through an earthen tunnel to get to an actual dungeon meant that they were on a dungeon crawl. The other best part was when they awoke the giant stone idol because the thief wanted to make it look like the victim they were rescuing had escaped.

Hoggart's Follow was one of those game where you had an idea of where you wanted it go to and the player end up going completely the opposite direction. I had wanted them to try to gather the pieces of the only map that was created of Hoggart's Castle, but instead it ended up as some sort of political intrigue game where the Guards and the Guides were busy fighting each other, so that the Maids (I had to try to come up with something funny, so I came up with Ninja Maids) had to find a way to defend the King and Queen from being attacked. That was the hope anyway, but it did end up turning a little more serious than I had intended which just proves that it's hard to be spontaneously funny all the time.

Ultimately there was a lot of interest in the game, which makes me anxious to get it out. I need to talk to the artistic folk and see if we can't get this done by the end of the year. It's really something I think will do well.


I only ran one game of Geasa, because I made a mistake and they ended up duplicating the Critical! stuff rather than the Geasa stuff, but it was a lot of fun. We ended up telling a story of post-war London with a Streetkid who was looking for his parents, a pub owner who was a pillar of his community, a noble woman looking to get a better sense of the common folk and a constable that was still on the take for the remnants of the Axis.

The game ended with the Constable being run off after capturing the orphan Streetkid by the Pub Owner and his local mob. There were some great moments, Eric playing the Fae to the Noblewoman ended up making her obsessed with Stags even though he didn't spend a die. It's just another moment that shows you can do a lot as a Fae even if you don't have any dice.

Ultimately, I would call this a super successful con. It's given me that extra push to get Critical! done, which I may or may not be working on ... right now. I just hope I can get most of it updated and organized before Game Chef kicks in. Damned Shakespeare theme.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

24 Hour RPG Contest - THA WINNA IS ...

You can read it here, or read it over at the Free RPG Blog but we do have a winner for the 24 Hour Movie Mash up RPG competition. Without any real peep of complaint the winner is Droog Family Song Book.

My big question though, is what came in second for a lot of the judges. That's where the conversation really starts, and where it gets interesting which is why I want to bring it up.

The Silver Winner for me was All the King's Men. You can read my review of it here. What is yours and why?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Introduction Redux the Second

Well, the first attempt at doing an introduction wasn't so hot. This means I'm going to get back on that horse and see what I can do here. This is a draft copy, I'm looking for any feedback I can get on this thing.

What is Critical!: Go Westerly!?
Eat, Drink, Fight, and be Merry, each one of those is important because it’s been capitalized, but also because that is the basis of Critical!: Go Westerly. Play that character you always wanted to have in a world slightly twisted sideways. You will go forth into a world where monsters are organized by height, dysfunctional duchies try their best to deal with their personal demons, and a land war is fought over who doesn’t have to control and monster filled, bug infested swamp. You will gather gold for personal gain by killing monsters and pilfering off of friends who stay conscious on the other end of a fight. You will learn how to fight, and help others, and cheat your way to victory in wonderfully descriptive training montages.

Critical!: Go Westerly is more than just a collection of punctuation nestled between a valley of words. It’s a world that is in dire need of questionable heroes who know how to fight and how to cook, possibly at the same time. A world in dire need of Bards who are willing to stop at nothing to produce the best music that they can. Fallen sports heroes who are looking for a less dangerous line of work, or even Wizards looking to advance their careers by walking about righting wrongs and wronging even worse evils. A world in dire need of peat farmers, because it’s a dirty job and somebody has to do it.

Adventure and hijinx awaits! All you need to do is keep reading, and convince someone else that they really want to be the Bartender.

RPG Review Recess - Remnants (Yay! Alliteration!)

Origins 2011 had a lot of great moment, but one of them was meeting Steve Bergeron and his crew at Outrider Studios, another Crazy Canadian designer out of Cornwall Ontario. They had even got a booth! Which was both insane and, well, insane but it allowed them to meet a pile of people. I was one of those lucky people, they were really cool and eager to show off their game. This is how this review was born, I was given a copy and I said I would have a review done in two weeks.

Here is this review.

Remnants can be described as Mecha Combat meets Post Apocalyptic game. You play people trying to survive on a planet where the ancient ones basically wiped each other out through by using their MAD weapons. There is barely enough to scratch out a living, let alone grow in a wild and inhospitable environment. However, there were pieces of grand technology that were left behind, most of them are small and insignificant, but then there are the Ishin, the Battle Remnants.

The system itself is a traditional RPG that works off of a single D6, and it a Margin of Success Game. The bigger the margin of success is, the more good stuff you get. The more damage you do, the better the result is for the action you're doing. The system, which is also used in their Fantasy Game, has a wonderful term for it called The Lead, which is something everyone should use right now when they have a MoS game. It's elegant, and to the point. I know I'm going to steal it if I do one.

What I liked about this game
Thematically there are a lot of lovely little moments in the setting. The fact that as the descendants of a highly advanced race you are all immortal. That doesn't mean you won't get killed when someone sharp stabs you, but you are the progeny of people who knew how to tinker with genes and so you're not going to die of old age, hooray! However, the amount of food you need after you hit 40 is more than what most cultures can sustain in this post apocalyptic setting which means you'll end up starving to death, boo! It's morbidly perfect.

I like the fact that the Ishin are actually the low end technology that survived because they were scouts that were meant to be self sufficient. This leads into the fact that in order to upgrade your Ishin, you need to put stress on it. The more dangerous a situation is, the more risks you take the more Duress you put on your Ishin and the more points you get to upgrade. When it gets damaged to the point where it's wrecked, it gains points to upgrade. It gives you mechanical incentive to push your Ishin to the limit.

The world feels deadly and dangerous, which is wonderfully in keeping with a Post Apoc game. Not only do you have to deal with other people trying to kill you, you have to deal with the environment doing its damnest to make sure you die.

The system works, and is pretty deadly. You can take about 5 hits before you're out of the fight and one more hit before you're dead. One good roll and you're looking at a spear through the chest. That means your players are less likely to jump into a fight right away after they learn the hard way that swords and spears are sharp and look good covered in your blood.

Finally, I love the economic system. Anything that can take the bookkeeping of most other RPG games and turn it into a concept called "Easy Living" is great. Easy Living is how many days you can basically live off the avails of your work. You can barter that away, since money really isn't used much outside of the few major cities and then each city has its own currency which renders it really useless, but it's nice and abstract. Good for getting what you need and then discarding the rest.

What I didn't like about the game
The Economic System. I know I just said that I loved it, and I do. I love the concept of how everything works. What I'm not too interested in are the guidelines provided by the book. I think at no point in time should a player have anything more than a week's worth of easy living. However, there are jobs that the book says that a player should get something like 60 days worth of easy living. In a world with very little, my acceptance of the fiction took a huge blow at that. My thought is that if it gets to be that big, you should just give them some land or something big and cool rather than a lifetime supply of kicking back with cold ones.
My personal suggestion is to take what the book suggests and then slash a zero from the back of number. That should be the figure of easy living you use when dealing with financial rewards in the game.

The art. There's nothing intrinsically bad with the art. A lot of it is really good, actually. The problem is that it looks that in a lot of places that they took colour art and just desaturated the photos in photoshop. A note for Steve in the future, there are better ways to turn colour images into B&W. You need to play with the filters, or else you'll end up with pretty flat images. I found that out the first time I went to take the images for Geasa and turn them B&W, they weren't nearly as clear and awesome as they were in colour and I knew there had to be a way to fix that.

Remnants is a pretty good mash up a Mecha game and a Post-Apocalyptic game. It pushes you to put yourself at risk in order to improve yourself, and uses a very fast and deadly combat mechanic. It needs a little tweak on the finance end, because the suggestions don't seem to apocalyptic, but that's pretty minor. For 20$ it's a pretty good deal, and a good gateway into Outrider Studio's House system which is called something I can't remember because I don't have the book on me this second.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Origins 2011 - The Obligatory What Happened Post

Origins 2011 this year was an interesting convention for me. I was going, and for the first time most of the companies, and people that I know really well, weren't there. This meant that I would have to find something to do with my time, which mean that I volunteered in official and in unofficial capacities at a lot of places. However, I did get some good games in and I'd like to tell you about those, but first ...

The Origins 2011 Overview!
I think the convention was better this year than it was the year before. It felt like there were more people, which might have been a figment of my imagination, but the dealer hall was a lot more full on many of the days this year than last year. There seemed to be more dealers than before selling a wider variety of goods. I don't know what the official numbers are, and I'm not going to look them up because I'm lazy, but I my anecdotal evidence tells me that it was much improved.

The space is still the space, they haven't done anything original with it. However, it works save for the giant trek from the dealer's room to the RPG section. Again, I have a problem with it because of the aforementioned lazy.

What I did at Origins 2011
First of all, I am pleased to announce that for the first time in a long time over 50% of my games had enough people at them to actually go off! Excitement! Headlines! News Flashes at 11! All that good other loud announcement stuff. There was a lot of Geasa that was ran there, and we had a lot of good times listening to the stories that were built up.

Game 1 - Thursday at 8:00 pm
We had a good time with a Victorian Steampunk game. This was perhaps one of the best Fae I've ever seen in a game. The person playing her was just vicious.

Inventor trying to come up with the invention that will make him famous.
Traveling Merchant looking for the person who swindled him out of his childhood memories.
Forest Child looking for her parents.
Traveller, with her clan, looking for justice for her people.
Retired Airship Captain wanting to escape from his previous life and escape the military.

The game ended where the Inventor, and the Retired Airship Captain tried to save the Forest Child (who was the Prime Minister's Illegitimate daughter) from being assassinated by the PM. Unfortunately, the Merchant discovered that she was made from his childhood memories and the only way he could get them back would be to kill the Forest Child.

Best Moments:
The Inventor has his invention go off beautifully in front of his patrons. They offer him 20k on the spot and as he's about to accept it, the Fae of Inspiration tells him not to take it because it will stifle his creativity. He pauses and they up it to 40k in silver. Unfortunately, she had the dice to make him turn it down. It was the best case of screwing someone over I have ever seen.

Game 2 - Saturday at 10:00 am
This game required some talk during the character creation. We ended up having some discussions in regards to appropriation because of what was starting to come out of the character creation. It was a good talk, but ultimately we ended up going forward. We'll see how this ends up being, because we were walking a line here.

Prince who needs to hunt a lion to come of age.
The Lion, trying to defend its territory
The Elder Hunter who had the Prince as the pupil.
The British Great White Hunter who was supposed to take the British Nobility through their hunts.

The game ended with the Lion winning. The Lion killed the Great White Hunter and his associate and maimed the Prince who fled home. Pretty straightforward, but good on the lion for winning I say.

Best Moments:
The Spirit of an Eternal Hunger got the Prince to go after the GWH rather than the lion and got him to attack while they were trying to deal with the Pride of lions before they attacked the compound. It helps that this Fae was being played by the player who was playing the GWH.

Game 3 - Saturday at 8:00 pm
We ended up with two games going at the same time. The first time this has happened while running Geasa. It was the only game that I ended up taking pictures of. It was fun because we had two completely different tables. I can't really go into more details because I was jumping from table to table, but there was a lot of fun happening.

Table one had a group of Circus Pirates, the other table was telling the tale about the end of Atlantis. It was immensely fun to listen to, and just a great time had by all it would seem.

What did you buy?
RPGwise I picked up Annalise (which came recommended), Blowback (which I had been intending to buy for a while), and Leverage (in which I got Cam Banks to do the Exact Change Dance, the only time it was worth listening to. There is footage, it will get posted). I was given Remnants, a post apocalyptic mecha RPG written by another Canadian designer, to review so expect that in a couple of weeks.

I picked up Rattus by Z-Man games which has been a lot of fun and got many, many plays at the house already.

Picked up a couple more accessories for the mini department and then came home.

I think it was a really good convention, this Origins 2011. What says you all?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dave's Mapper - Amazing stuff

I'm going to be lazy and just link to Rob's blog in regards to Dave's Mapper.

OMG it's amazing and you should check it out. The best part is that it's free.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Critical!: Go Westerly - Introduction

I read up on what a couple people were saying to Brennan about the introduction to Bulldogs. How it should snag the reader, and give a good sense of what was going to happen inside the book. With that in mind, I'm going to be asking the people who read this blog (and there are more of you now, much to my surprise) what you think of the new and upgrade version of the Introduction.

Note, this is still a draft so any suggestions on how it's written in Jonathan Speak is appreciated.

What is Critical: Go Westerly!?

Tired of boring battles and pointless treasure gathering? Annoyed by the boring, monotonous fantasy worlds that seem to spring up everywhere? If you aren’t, then maybe you should just put down. No, I mean it. Put it down and go back to your magical fantasy worlds where everything is drab and colourless. Surely you can’t handle what goes on inside this book, it just might be too much for you.

If you haven’t put the book down, then you’re either really bad at comprehension or you’ve decided to boldly go forward towards the center of this book. There you will find ribald adventures and slightly off kilter places where you will have meaningful reasons to go after monsters, and kill them for their treasure. Inside is a place where cooking and combat are nestled side by side in education facilities. Take great, unimaginable risks in order to defeat strongly smelling evil monsters. Drink yourself silly in taverns and still manage to adventure successfully. Kill, steal, bribe, and find as much gold as you possibly can to attain power and glory!

Critical: Go Westerly! is ultimately a story about a kingdom that needs a slightly questionable hero. It’s a kingdom filled with highs and lows, good times and bad, ups and downs, friends and foes and many other dualisms with which other Kingdoms are filled. There is the threat of war, Pirates attacking the shore, Monsters to the north and various political factions each looking to win the Stout Throne for itself. It’s up to you, to decide who might pay you the most money to do their dirty work.

Your party of adventurers will go forth, with their Bartender behind them, to create epic tales of monster death, gold collection, and general dungeon delving with the hope that you won’t find yourself waking up in the Hay Loft of the local White Gryphon Tavern establishment wondering where all your stuff is, and how will you ever get it back from the clutches of your backstabbing teammates.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Free RPG adendum - Because It really needs to be here

Hey folks, one more quick free game for you to enjoy on this Free RPG weekend.

6. Three Black Crows, Three Dead Men

Brennan wrote a lovely little macabre game where you play three crows talking about the three corpses that are hanging in the gallows. You will use various pieces of the corpses to describe who they were as you play three crows with varying personalities. It takes about 30 minutes to play and is a riot the whole time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Free RPG Day - Ode to Free RPGs and not just whatever was put out ...

Today was free RPG day and while I appreciate the sentiment I think that there's a lot of people who need to understand that it can be free RPG day every single day and not just when people feel that it's an opportunity to provide a marketing push for RPGs as a whole, though really only the ones that can afford to print a whole pile of free material in the hopes that you will pick up their books.

Where to begin? I guess the first thing is to try to see if you have a bias against free RPGs. I know I developed one over the years. I know when I was a teenager and this new-fangled internet thing was still new I used to look everywhere for free RPGs. I was but a youth and had no cash and this looked like it could be used to provide hours of entertainment.

Then I got a job and started being able to buy stuff and soon fell into the siren song of paid for RPGs. Clearly they have to be better than the free alternatives right?

That is not the case at all. In fact, I think there are some brilliant ideas coming out of Free RPGs that people really need to see.

How do I start?
Well there are a couple of good resources to go for Free RPGs. The first is Dr. Rob Lang's Free RPG Blog where he goes over and reviews a wide variety of Free RPGs.

There is also the Free RPG community over at where a lot of free games are hosted. There's also a forum where there is chatter by a pile of monkeys about games in general.

There is also an wiki that has a list of all the free games called the Year of Living Free by Sanglorian. Definitly worth a check out.

There are too many of them! I am paralized by choice!

Allow me to make some recommendations.

1. Lady Blackbird

A wonderful setting with quick game play, Lady Blackbird is one of the most popular free rpgs. It's also been hacked a lot, so if you know how to play this one you'll have an idea on how you can play the million or so renditions of others.

2. Metropole Luxury Coffin

A Cyberpunk Future where fashion is king, your face time is your currency and you all dream of finding a way to raise your status enough so that you can leave the Metropole Luxury Coffin Motel. It's a great game, with a great dynamic between the players and the world. It very much deserved to win the Cyberpunk Revival Project contest.

3. Action City

This is a great game if you want to play that Action Movie(tm) kind of game. Seriously, at the end of every major scene there needs to be an explosion of some kind, and it's hard wired in the rules. How do you go wrong with that!?

4. The Droog Family Songbook

What if you mashed up the Sound of Music with A Clockwork Orange? You would get the most amazing bit of music mixed with ultra violence. Protect your favourite things against the invading Nazi hoards in 1995 by relying on fate, or acts of ultra violence.

5. Geasa

Yes this is my own game, and the link is to the free version. If you want a co-operative and competitive storytelling experience then you want to play Geasa. The Free version contains all the rules, not just the ones that might give you a feeling for how the game plays, but all the rules are there. You can even modify them and print your own game since it's under a Creative Commons BY-SA license.

It's free! Check it out.

There you go. Five games to get you started. Anyone else want to suggest their favourite Free RPG?

Friday, June 17, 2011

West Side Horror - Feedback

GSLamb over at had this to say about West Side Horror

Just tried this game with friends last night - very fun.
Our monster, iirc, was an alien-hybridized, hyperintelligent squirrel with a thirst for brain chemicals (Mr. Squeakers). We were all former lab assitants of a genetics project that lost funding (our Professor was Mr Squeakers' first victim), enthralled by Mr Squeakers.

After the third musical number, people got into the swing of things. The second verse of out fourth number had over fifteen lines in it!

Sadly, Mr Squeakers was done-in by his love of amaretto sours (with just a dash of spinal fluids), and we were all brain-wiped in his death throes.

I know I laughed out loud with joy when I read that. I'm glad that it turned out, and that the musical bits worked.

Firestorm Ink's Fan Box