PanOceania…

Bright heights and laser lights, busy days and pulsing nights…

-L-Ease, Maya Star

The PanOceania source book for the Infinity RPG has been released! I wrote the opening chapter and the background to the planet Acontecimento in this book, and as always it is a pleasure to see it after it’s gone into layout and accompanied by art. The team at Modiphius do a fantastic job, and I am very proud to have had a small part to play in the creation of this book. The art work throughout is excellent, and there is plenty of stuff in there for die hard fans of the setting, and for those who want more, more, MORE for their game sessions!

I have had an absolute blast exploring the science fiction worlds created by Corvus Belli. In PanOceania I really hope that game masters and players alike find a mix of enjoyable background material, as well as plenty of ideas and seeds for adventure and mayhem!

PanOceania. The Hyperpower. Life at the top of the G5 nations ensures a certain amount of privilege and power. It also brings its fair share of enemies. Born from an intercontinental alliance on Old Earth that pioneered the race to the stars, PanOceania has led the transhuman revolution without ever once looking back. 

Stewards of no less than three entire star systems and numerous colonies on several other worlds, the Hyperpower is also the largest proponent of ALEPH, the benevolent AI that oversees many of the functions that allow the vast PanOceanian empire to operate. Overseen by ALEPH, their policies set by lobbies, and their faith guided by the Church, most PanOceanians soak up glamorous holovids depicting the herculean might of the latest cutting-edge TAGs or the glorious charge of power-armoured Knights and bask in the sanctity of their technological superiority. 

Scratch beneath the surface of the neon and chrome, however, and all is not as harmonious as the Mayacasts would have you believe. On the ocean planet of Varuna, Libertos fight ever more violently to free themselves from a subversive occupation, whilst all across PanOceania’s territories, dispossessed Ateks struggle for recognition from an interstellar institution that refuses to acknowledge their existence. With new gear and fresh insights on the mightiest of Hyperpowers, this sourcebook will take you deep beneath the sparkling surface of PanOceania’s dazzling exterior.  

  • Details on the three key star systems that are home to the PanOceanian empire: Acontecimento, Neoterra, and Varuna.
  • Focused Lifepaths that allow players to immerse themselves in the diverse aspects of the Hyperpower, including Croc Men, Hexas Agents, and Knights.
  • Additional armour, equipment, and adversaries specific to PanOceania, including the innovative sensarecorder tech, the mighty Seraph TAGs, and stats for several unique adversaries.
  • A treatise on the Helots and their culture, plus several Lifepaths that provide an opportunity to play a member of this enigmatic amphibious race!

PanOceania is available in the Modiphius webstore here!

The One Ring, Second Edition

The One Ring, the Lord of the Rings Role Playing Game, from Cubicle 7, is getting a second edition. The One Ring is a multi-award winning RPG, set in one of the most genre defining works of fiction ever written.

The One Ring Logo, from Cubicle 7.

There was a time in my life when I was reading The Lord of the Rings two or three times a year. My beat up all-in-one edition of this trilogy, bought by my parents when I was about 10, was so thoroughly familiar that I could approximate what was happening at any randomly opened point by feel. The heft and smell of that book encapsulate everything I love about reading. Yes, it probably sounds weird (hell, it probably is weird), but the smell of that book was and is glorious.

Fast forward nearly thirty years (ye gads), and I am so very excited and proud to have had the opportunity to work with a wonderful team of people at Cubicle 7 on the Starter Set for the newly announced The One Ring, Second Edition.

The best look research pile…

The Lord of the Rings has been a seminal book in my own life as a reader, gamer, and writer. Middle Earth is a well-tramped rolling landscape that feels a part of me: I spent so many nights crossing Rohan with Merry and Pippin, or hiding in the deep shadows of Ithilien with Frodo and Sam. Having the opportunity to write for something set in this world has been my absolute delight. I am very excited to have been a part of this project, and am very much looking forward to seeing where it goes next!

Brigands of Sherwood

It used to be that a person could make a handy living robbing passers-by in Sherwood forest, but since Robin and his Merry band of fools turned their hand to it, everyone expects a good old dose of ‘giving to the poor’. It’s hard to make a living when every starving beggar has their hand out!

Brigands of Sherwood is the second in my series of micro-RPGs. In Brigands of Sherwood the players are criminals trying to end their adventure with as much loot as possible. The trouble is, that with the return of Robin Hood, everyone expects stolen goods to be redistributed to the peasantry! The characters are simple dishonest thieves trying to steal enough loot to retire, will they be able to fill their loot tracks? Or will the presence of Robin Hood mean they have to give it all away?

The rules are simple, and players have the chance to take a shot, by flicking a disc or die, to gain a bonus to their skill tests. This expanded edition includes some extra rules and an alternative character sheet, as well as a short adventure sketch. It’s available now, from my Patreon, Itch.io, or DriveThruRPG (and you can find these links on my downloads page!

Each month I plan on releasing one of these micro-RPGs. Beginning from next month (June, 2019), the basic versions will all be available for free from Itch or DriveThruRPG, the expanded versions will be available at a nominal cost, or through my Patreon page, which you can find here. Yes, the expanded versions don’t include anything earth-shattering, and you won’t be missing vital information if you opt to get the free download. The expanded version is just a way of saying thank you to anyone who chooses to support me through my Patreon, on DriveThru, or on Itch.

As well as writing these micro-RPGs, I am continuing to work through the writing and development of the fantasy RPG Ashmerl. One of the things I am most pleased with is how the character and setting development is shaping up. As you create your group of characters, you also create the Enclave (the village or town) that your characters are from, important landmarks, experiences, and people all shape the setting and make it uniquely tied to that group of characters. My playtests of this system have been fantastic, with campaigns worth of story hooks rising from the character creation process. In the few months I plan on putting the early draft of Ashmerl on my Patreon, it’s still a work in progress, but it’s getting closer!

Satisfaction on Omned III

Earlier this year an adventure I wrote for the Star Trek Adventures line from Modiphius, Trouble on Omned III, was released for sale. The adventure puts the intrepid crew of *insert ship name here* in the middle of a social and medical crisis that could well spill over into armed conflict. I tried to write an adventure that was classically Star Trek, one where science and diplomacy could have as much chance, if not more, of solving the brewing conflict as any feat of arms. The other day I found a review on DrivethruRPG, by Megan R. of this adventure and it made me smile.

I won’t quote the whole thing, which describes aspects of the adventure for anyone who might be interested in buying it (you can see it here), but the last line particularly gave me a thrill:

This is a nicely-constructed adventure that has a real Star Trek feel to it – it’s easy to imagine it as an episode in the show. The party’s actions will have a lasting effect on Omned III.

Review on DriveThruRPG by Megan R.

While it’s satisfying to read that the reviewer thought the adventure was nicely constructed, reading that she believed it had a Star Trek feel to it, that it could be imagined as an episode, was exactly what I was aiming for. I know this adventure won’t be for every group, and that adventures are, by their very nature, subjective, and dependent on the GM and play group. I also recognise that this would never have been released without the wonderful support and work of all those boffins at Modiphius who are part of the excellent Star Trek Adventures team. It is nonetheless nice to read that the feeling I was aiming for resonated with someone! Thanks Megan! I hope your playgroup had as much fun playing this as I did writing it!

The smile I felt as I read those words is a good reminder: I should do more to write about the games and game products I love, and why I love them. Putting those ‘feels’ out there helps share the smile I felt with the writers, creators, artists and team that put the games together.

Questions, questions, questions…

Some things I am wondering…

I have set up a Patreon account, and intend to release a number of micro-rpgs as backer rewards. These would later be released on itch and Drivethru as pay-what-you-want (PWYW) products.

I currently have two tiers, the lower tier gets the game before everyone else, the higher tier gets an expanded version of the same game. I’ve written two of these micro games so far, and have drafts in various stages for the next four or five. BUT…

I am wondering whether I should drop the higher tier, and just have one Patreon level, at which you get the expanded version. Along with this the base game would go up on itch and Drivethru as PWYW, and the expanded version would also go there at set price to match the Patreon level (say at $2, $3, or $4).

A number of things concern me:

  • I don’t want to undervalue my time in creating these.
  • I don’t want to overvalue the games and put a price point that no-one is ever going to be interested in paying.
  • I am not sure whether just having one level on Patreon (at a similar price as above) is a good idea as whatever I begin with, I must continue (though of course I may add new tiers or whatever. But what I offer now I should continue to offer – changing the price or what is received is not fair for any backers – not that I have any yet, but still).

I feel like the answer is to create a single tier on Patreon, and offer the expanded version of each micro-game as the reward. These would then go on itch and Drivethru for the same price, and the cut down version as PWYW. I could add further tiers later if there was a need to do that. How to value these is a difficult problem though, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the Patreon accounts of many other people working in the table-top role playing game field, and there is a wide variance on what price the tiers are set at, and what is offered in return. $2 seems the entry point, but many are as high as $5. Whatever I end up choosing can always be reduced, I suppose, but not increased without a damn good reason and the likelihood of annoying any backers I do have at the time.

Then of course is the age old issue of impostor syndrome. Will anyone actually want to buy the games I am writing? Are they any good? On one shoulder is perched a little dragon saying that I’ll never know until I try it, and that I should, at least, give it a go. On the other is another little dragon telling me not to bother, that I’m wasting my time. One may be right and the other wrong, or they could both be right, who knows…

For now I remain here, chewing over the specifics of my Patreon account and what to do with the games I am working on…

Haqqislam…

So nice to see some of the books I’ve worked on getting released into the wild. The latest of these is the Haqqislam source book for the Infinity RPG. I know I’ve written it before, but it really is amazing to see all the work of so many talented people coming together into a final product. The Haqqislam source book looks fantastic, and I’m very proud to have been a part of the team that contributed to its creation.

I love the cover art work, but the book is also choc full of great information, background, rules and art.

I worked on the Bourak chapter, and had a lot of fun exploring the planetary home of the Haqqislamite empire. The Bourak chapter is only one part of the book however, many other writers contributed to make this a wonderful source book for the Infinity RPG.

The Haqqislamite movement found traction in a world riven by political turmoil and economic crises. Its greatest messenger, Farhad Khadivar, advocated a new ideology that wove together the many complex threads of the old into a New Islam. This philosophical and theological revision of long-standing interpretations, which shed intolerance and oppressive dogma in favour of humanism and a concept known as the Search for Knowledge, laid the foundations for a golden age of reforms and advancements that propelled a nation across the stars.

Since finding a home on Bourak, Haqqislam has experienced a rebirth of artistic and scientific pursuance that is the envy of their rivals. Gardeners refine terraforming techniques that have reshaped an arid world, doctors perform miracles with pioneering surgery, and biochemists cultivate new synthetic wonders with Silk. Though often considered one of the smallest of the G5 nations, Haqqislam remains unrivalled in several arenas.

A Silk monopoly and extensive trade routes have spawned a nation of traders that often draw the envy and ire of competitors, though the Sword of Allah stands ever ready to smite the enemies of the Word. With new insights into the New Islam and its proponents, this sourcebook will take you further into the Search for Knowledge than ever before!

  • Details on Bourak and its diverse regions — Al Medinat, Funduq, Iran Zhat Al Amat, Gabqar, Norouz, and Alamut.
  • Focused Lifepaths that allow players to tread the Search for Knowledge, including Akbar Doctors, Khawarij, and new Hassassin careers.
  • Additional armour, equipment, and adversaries specifi c to Haqqislam, including the famed Akrep TAGs of the Maghariba Guard, and stats for the enigmatic Husam Yasbir.
  • New rules and campaign guidance for plundering the space lanes as a corsair in the employ of Haqqislam.