Breaking Eggs

You can’t make an Omelette without breaking eggs, as the saying goes. The same is true for game design. Owlbear Omelette has been through a number of revisions, most recently an update to the random dungeon system that will be in the extended edition.

Run Goblin! Run!

The dungeon creation rules started as a card driven system: split a deck of cards into three, divided by colours and numbers. Flip this card, then that card, corridors, rooms, and encounters defined by suit and then number… Explaining it to a friend at a later stage I realised something that should probably have been quite obvious earlier: all the same could be achieved through dice rolls. In fact, rolling dice and checking tables is simpler than splitting up a deck of cards into three specific decks, and then having to check tables.

The Lost Paladin… Which way did the rogue say to go?

It’s funny how, in the moment, we can get lost in needless complexity. That the solution to a problem we see can swiftly spiral into complication. But… would the dice system exist without me having first created the overly complicated card system? No, it would not.

There is much to be said for building the thing; complexities, complications, warts and all. Once the things exists, in a form that approximates, roughly, painfully, and no doubt awkwardly, what you want to achieve, cut it back, pare it down. Ask of the thing: what can be done more simply? Is there another way to achieve the same thing?

I changed from cards to dice not just because the system is simpler, but because it doesn’t ask the GM or the players to pre-prepare. Thinking about the physical actions required of either preparing or executing an action in the game is important. Such things can add a fun aspect to the game experience when they are deliberate and purposeful, but can detract from the fun just as easily. A system that involves some sort of procedure or preparation can be a barrier to entry, a step or series of steps that add needless ‘busy work’ to a process that doesn’t necessarily require it.

I have a tendancy as a designer to add all the things in, one idea leads to two others, which in turn add some system or sub-system, and so the teetering pile grows. This is a part of my process, and just as important as growing that messy pile, is the act of going back and shaving it down, of cutting away and reorganising. Of removing the things that don’t add to the experience, but simply add processes. This cutting back is the step that is key… As I wrote at the beginning: when making an omelette, you need to break eggs.

Owlbear Omelette will be the next game released by Caradoc Games. The basic edition will be available as a free download in all the usual places (Patreon, DriveThruRPG, and Itch.io), while the Extended Edition, which includes extras such as fun secret character goals, armour rules, and random dungeon creation, will be available exclusively to Patreon supporters.

One Ring to Rule Them All…

Cubicle 7 have been teasing artwork for their upcoming release of The One Ring, Second Edition, and to my eye, it looks amazing.

Over on their website they have been posting regular updates showing off the artwork for the cover, interior, and the playable cultures, like this one, which shows off the Men of Minas Tirith, Hobbits of the Shire, and the High Elves of Rivendell.

The cover for the new edition looks fantastic, vibrant, full of action, and even includes a certain iconic wizard. The art piece was created by Johan Grenier, and is part of a larger piece, which can be seen here. Very cool, and even better, it ties in to a free adventure that will be released alongside the new edition.

Even more stunning that this though, is the cover and art for the Collectors Edition. It reminds me very much of the art and style of the very best hard cover versions of The Lord of Rings.

The Collectors edition comes in a slip case, and the whole production looks amazing. You can read about on Cubicle 7’s website here. The Collector’s Edition Cover is by Rachael Macken, and the map that is spot highlighted on the slipcase is by Jared Blando.

I have been thrilled to have had the opportunity to write for The One Ring Second Edition line, including contributing to The One Ring Starter Set, and the upcoming title Tales from Middle-earth. As a long time lover of the Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth, it has been a real thrill! That everything Cubicle 7 has shown off for the Second Edition looks so good is just icing on the cake!

All the images in this post are the property of Cubicle 7 ©

Devil’s Run Update

How would you survive in the mayhem and anarchy of a post-apocalyptic world? A wasteland of scarcity, danger, and dominated by gangs? Red Scar have just updated the Quickstart for their role playing game: Devil’s Run. Devil’s Run is a fun and crazy post-apocalyptic setting, with all the chrome, oil stains, shell casings and mayhem one would expect of the wasteland.

The Devil’s Run Quickstart includes rules for Modiphius Entertainment’s 2D20 system, which powers Star Trek Adventures, Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of, John Carter of Mars, Infinity the Role Playing Game, and more, as well rules for running it with the Savage Worlds SWADE system, from Pinnacle Entertainment.

I didn’t contribute anything to the Quickstart, but I did write some pieces for the soon-to-be-released core book. The game is a lot of fun, and well worth checking out. You can find the updated Quickstart, for free, on DriveThruRPG here.

Questions and Answers

I was interviewed recently about role playing games, game design, and writing, by an old friend Patrick Matthews. If you’re interested in any of these things, the interview can be found on Pat’s blog here.

Many years ago now, it feels, I wrote some various articles for a website Pat ran which was called Games for Educators. I wrote about using games in the classroom. I also hosted a short podcast series there which was co-hosted by Tom Vasel and myself, called Teaching Strategies. Later, Games for Educators also hosted another podcast I recorded with Donald Dennis, called Games in Schools and Libraries (which is still running strong I might add, hosted by Kathleen Mercury and Donald Dennis). Pat is an author, game designer and software developer, and has recently started a blog series on his site called ‘6 Questions‘. Under Patrick, the Games for Educators site had a range of authors writing about games in an educational setting.

In the 6 Questions series Pat interviews authors, game designers, and other creatives. I was honoured to have been asked to contribute something, and I hope anyone interested in freelance writing, game design, or writing in general finds something interesting or useful in my various and rambling answers.

In my interview I wrote about role playing games and why I love them, creative focus, offered some thoughts on writing, processes, writing in the RPG industry, and talked about what’s upcoming from Caradoc Games. Check it out here! Thanks Pat for asking me to contribute something to your 6 Questions series, it was a lot of fun, and I am very honoured!

Tempus Fugit…

Time has flown! last I checked it was the start of July, and I had just released The Hoppy Pops. A whirlwind has rushed by and suddenly it appears to be the start of August! I was remiss with my blog updates in July, many apologies, but life seems to have gotten in the way!

So what have I been doing this last month? Well, freelance writing has kept me rather busy. I have had the pleasure of working on the upcoming Legends of Middle-Earth (probably being renamed Tales from Middle-Earth), for Cubicle 7. As well as getting through a number of pieces for the Infinity: The Role Playing Game, for Modiphius. Lastly, I managed to start a few odds and ends for Devil’s Run, for Red Scar Gaming. It’s been quite a mix: a pinch of classic epic fantasy, a dash of post-human science fiction, and a smidgen of down-and-dirty post-apocalypse.

I have also been getting my next micro-RPG ready, it’s called Owlbear Omelette, and sets you (the players), on a mad dungeon quest to secure an Owlbear Egg for omelette-making purposes. Is it just a drunk dare? Is it to strike a blow to the entrenched hierarchy? Is it just for kicks? You decide! In preparation I made a couple of illustrations for the cover, and have been mulling over which to use.

Option one…
Option two…

Not what anyone would call fine art, but will have to do…

Owlbear Omelette shoud be up and available within the next week or so for those of you who support my Patreon page (and with juicy extras), for everyone else, it will be available a week after that in all the usual places (namely DriveThruRPG and Itch.io).

This month my goals are to finish off the next micro-RPG, and round out some of the freelance work I have still on the docket. I need to get back to design work on Ashmerl, my full-sized fantasy RPG. I also have some fiction I need to get out of my system, for better or for worse, and I’m sure I’ll be distracted by something else along the way. Last but not least, I need to make sure I get more than one blog post out there in August, July was… well, best not said!

Until the next post, happy gaming!

The Hoppy Pops is available!

Last week, my latest Micro-RPG, The Hoppy Pops, was released on Patreon. It is now available for download!

As always you can find the links on the Downloads page here. You can also find it on Patreon here. You can find it on itch.io here. And you can find it on DriveThruRPG here.

In The Hoppy Pops you are a character from a strange and surreal kids show, think In the Night Garden, Yo Gabba Gabba, or Teletubbies. For whatever reason, the producer made you do a happy dance, and it opened a portal to Hell! Now you and your friends have to escape the gatehouse and get back to your own dimension.

Each Hoppy Pop has a special power they can use once every game, and a special limitation, something they cannot ever do, or must always do! Maybe you’re a master at Yoga, maybe you can tell a story that will have all the demons sitting with their hands in their laps. Maybe you can’t speak in words, or maybe you speak through a puppet!

In playtest, a group of Imps was distracted by a story while the Hoppy Pops managed to make their escape to the next level. The ability to get everyone around them to dance led one Hoppy Pop to cause mayhem when a demon armed with a weed-whacker jived like a mad-thing, waving the weed-whacker around them like a baton of destruction. It was lunacy, but in a good way, and I’m happy to report the Hoppy Pops managed to make it home. Will you be so lucky?