Smoke and Oakum

Smoke and Oakum is the first supplement for the Corsairs RPG, and delves into the subject of Sky Ships and sailing the skies of the Molten Seas.

Sitting at 32 pages from front cover to back cover it is almost as big as the core rules, and covers a lot of ground. In it you will be able to find rules and suggestions covering a slew of topics, from the effects of fair weather or challenging winds, to rules for encounters with storms, shoals, and more of the dangers that can foul a sky ship. There are guidelines for running a crew or factions within a crew on board a ship. 6 new Conditions that can have a serious impact on a ship and it’s crew. There are rules for chases which expand on the recommendations in the core rules, and include bonuses and setbacks for starting a chase at a lower or higher level than the target ship. A ship may gain a Reputation, or be upgraded, and there are a range of upgrade options from a Figurehead to larger cannons all of which can make a ship better, more fearsome, or more dangerous. Of course, Smoke and Oakum also includes more of Felicity Haworth’s wonderful art, and I hope you love how she has brought the world to life as much as I do!

Also included are two sets of stat blocks for enemies a Corsair Sky Ship might face off against, one titled ‘Sails Ho’, and the other ‘Here There Be Dragons’, and I’ll leave it to you to imagine what might be covered in the second!

At the back of the book is a new and updated Ship Sheet, including room for marking a ship’s Point of Sail, details on the Crew, and other sections to accommodate the added rules in the book. Lastly there is a page of Condition Cards, which may be printed and cut out to help track the conditions player characters or a ship might be suffering from at any given time. In short, Smoke and Oakum is a supplement that adds a lot of new material, all of it geared toward making your play experience as Corsairs sailing their infamous sky ships a more interesting, and nuanced experience. I am really thrilled with how Smoke and Oakum has come together, and I hope anyone who snags a copy of Smoke and Oakum will get a lot from the book!

I expect Smoke and Oakum to be available from DriveThruRPG and Itch.io within the next ten days, and I’m really excited to read what people think!

Speaking of which… if you have a copy of Corsairs consider heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io and giving it a rating or review, these things really help, and are very much appreciated! If you missed the Kicksarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some copies left from the print run, contact me at caradocgames@gmail.com for details. I am looking at a bunch of options to allow me to sell physical and digital products online at the moment, but I haven’t made any decisions on that front just yet.

Phew… So what’s next? Well, I am currently working away at Speed, Strength, and Wits, which will take a look at characters in the same way Smoke and Oakum took a look at Sky Ships and sailing. Beyond that… who knows. I am working on an adventure at the moment that I may just write up and put up for sale, and I have a half a dozen things I would have liked to include in Smoke and Oakum but just wasn’t able to fit in. If there is interest, I am keen to keep developing the Corsairs world!

Beyond Corsairs I am working on a new RPG setting and system that I was hoping to launch later this year, but which I may just hold on to in anticipation of next year’s ZineQuest (presuming Kickstarter run it again). I am really digging the theme and world I am currently developing, so we’ll see how it progresses!

Lastly, if you want to keep up with Corsairs, and everything else happening at Caradoc Games, head here to join our mailing list, or follow us on twitter @caradocp or @caradocgames

Setting Sail

Corsairs has set sail! After the Kickstarter launch as a part of the ZineQuest in February, backers have finally been sent their digital copies of the Corsairs RPG! Before hitting send I was a mix of nervous and excited, immediately afterwards elated and relieved! Corsairs has been released!

Corsairs is a role playing game zine containing the full rules for character creation, and character actions, as well as for ships and sailing the skies of the Molten Seas. Scattered throughout is background information on the floating islands, and the setting of Corsairs, as well as wonderful art from Felicity Haworth. When you buy Corsairs you will also get separate files for the character sheet, the ship sheet, and two rules reference sheets.

Corsairs is available now on itch.io here.

You can also find it on DriveThruRPG here.

If you get a copy, please consider leaving a rating or review!

For the next two weeks I’ll be gathering feedback and questions on Corsairs, before I send the files off to be printed. I’m excited, and I hope anyone who gets a copy enjoys reading and playing the game half as much as I did writing and developing it!

Back to the jungle…

It’s been far too long since my last post. I have been busy. My day job is as a teacher, and the transition to remote learning has involved a lot of work. This has had a significant impact on everything else obviously, and has led to fewer posts here, and a couple of deadlines pushed back for freelance work. I am trying to make ground, but the going is slow. I think I have a handle on this whole remote teaching business now though, so fingers crossed I manage to find some more free time in the next few weeks!

So what have I been doing for Caradoc Games? Work on Corsairs is progressing, and I have been through and edited and reedited the core book a number of times. Progress on the follow-up source-zine Smoke and Oakum continues, though has been slower than I had hoped. I have a system for running chases written (allowing better rules for a Corsair ship to chase down and catch some juicy merchant galleon), as well as a bunch of Ship Conditions. I have started turning my notes for the Weather into actual properly written rules and guidelines, and am happy with how all of this is shaping up!

Art for Corsairs is coming along nicely! I have seen and given feedback on all the early sketches, and Felicity is working hard on turning them into their final pieces. I am looking forward to being able to share them when they are done!

In addition my co-designer Karl Lange (of Ark Angel Games) and myself have returned to Colour Jungle with gusto. Karl has made a brilliant Table Top Simulator version of the game, so we should be able to organise more testing than previously even in our isolation! It’s looking really nice. We made some adjustments to the rules that I think are very solid, and have trimmed some other pieces out that felt like they added ‘stuff (TM)’ without adding much. The game is feeling more solid now, and I think with some honing, it might be ready to take back to publishers…

My physical playtest copy… Not as pretty!

In any case, that’s the update for now! I’ll endeavor to return to more regular posting soon, until then, stay safe, and I hope you and yours are well!

Sugar Gliders

A while ago I wrote about a card game that Karl Lange of Ark Angel Games and myself were designing, it was called Colour Jungle. After plenty of testing and development, we felt that it was ready to show around, and while we got some positive feedback from various publishers (thanks to Karl for the leg work on this), it didn’t quite make the grade, and no-one picked it up.

Colour Jungle in testing…

Karl and I had an online meeting a week or so ago, and decided to take a different approach. Taking the feedback we had received from playtesters and publishers, we looked at the game again and pulled out the pieces that we felt were the strongest and most enjoyable aspects of Colour Jungle, and imagined ways we could redesign the game around those core elements.

Setting up the new spin-off – Sugar Glider Tag

Sugar Glider Tag is the working title of the result. We still have a way to go with developing this one, and who knows, this particular road may lead us to a point where we shrug, trek back, and look for a different fork in the path to explore.

Right now though work continues apace with the early development and playtesting. There are aspects of this new game that I really like, and there are aspects of the-game-it-was that I miss, but for now the only way is forward. Testing, trialing, playing, and seeing what feels like an interesting avenue to explore.

More testing, more tweaks…

It’s good fun, and I’m glad to have a design partner to work with. He keeps me honest, keeps me working at it, and two minds, as the saying goes, are better than one!

My attempt at a sugar glider, from a photo I found online.

Corsairs – Set to Sail

14 Days. That was the length of the Corsairs Kickstarter Campaign for the ZineQuest. Before launch I had my worries, I had my doubts, I had a cynical and self-deprecating voice in the back of my mind telling me Corsairs would fail. It didn’t.

236 Backers raised over $4000 AUD to help make Corsairs a reality. We hit a funding level of 274% and unlocked three stretch goals. We unlocked a better quality zine, improved art from Felicity Haworth, and two further PDF zines that will expand the Corsairs rules and setting.

I’m not sure how I feel. On one hand I am stunned, shocked, thrilled and excited, and on the other I am daunted by the challenge that lies ahead, and the worry that I can still muck it up. Replacing the concern that no-one would be interested and that the Kickstarter would languish unnoticed and forgotten is the concern that people who get the zine will be largely unimpressed. Such is the journey of anybody who creates content in the hope that others will like it I suppose! I cannot sit in a puddle of idle self-doubt, I have 236 people to thank and a successful Kickstarter campaign to celebrate! So onward!

An early test print.

Over the course of the Kickstarter campaign I wrote 23 updates counting something like 13,000 words all told, I did one interview, tweeted a lot, and gave shout outs in my updates to 23 other Kickstarter ZineQuest campaigns. I got a lot of feedback, a huge amount of support, and was stunned when the campaign funded on the second day, and hit 274% of the funding level by the time it wound to a close.

It’s been a roller coaster. I have learned a lot, and I recognise that I have much yet to do and learn. I am looking forward to the chance to officially commission Felicity to complete the artwork for Corsairs, and excited to see how it will all come together including her wonderful artwork. I have two source-zines to write: Smoke and Oakum, which will expand the rules for sky ships and sailing, and Speed, Strength, and Wits, which will expand the rules for characters. Through both I hope to also expand the setting and lore of the Molten Sea and the famed Floating Islands, as well as layering in as many adventure seeds as I can. All in good time! For now I have some freelance work to complete while I wait for Kickstarter to process the campaign. Once this is done I will be taking time out to finish Corsairs, and make the rules book and the source-zines that follow it as wonderful, and full of value for my backers as I can.

Playtesting was a lot of fun!

All in all Corsairs has me wondering about the viability of running a small zine campaign again later in the year. Yes it would be outside of the ZineQuest promotion, and that I have no doubt would significantly impact visibility, but I had a great time running the Corsairs kickstarter campaign… I got to interact with a wide range of wonderful and supportive people from gamers to designers and fellow zine-questers, and generally had a lot of fun. Then again, maybe I should instead focus my attention on my larger fantasy RPG: Ashmerl… Decisions… we shall see!

Corsairs – Coming Soon to Kickstarter!

The Corsairs Kickstarter preview is up! Check it out here!

Corsairs will go live for Kickstarter’s ZineQuest on February 2nd.


Corsairs is a 32 page RPG zine of sky ships, floating islands, and high adventure! All the expected rules are there: actions, combat, giving a foe a damned good tongue lashing, Corsairs even includes rules for sky-ships and broadsides!

Corsairs does not include a GM chapter, or the usual ‘What is an RPG’ section, but it is choc full of rules, Scoundrels, and background. It also includes a Summary page, a character sheet, and a ship sheet.

Again, you can check it out here!

Zine quest – The wait is on…

Well, I did it. I hit submit. I had a few butterflies, but I submitted the Kickstarter project for review. I’m not sure how I’m feeling right now… nervous certainly. Hopeful. Worried. Excited. Anxious. All a mix of various things.

I think I have calculated everything, and goodness knows I have been over the project and the maths 1000 times. I think I have it all covered. We shall see.

The ship is set to sail! I hope the winds are favourable! I hope the course has been well plotted, and any dangers for the voyage have been thoughtfully navigated in the process. If the project passes review Corsairs will be launching on February 2nd. My contribution to the Zine Quest.

Zine Quest – Starting Line In Sight…

For the briefest of moments I was going to title this: Finish line in sight… but then I came to my senses. The starting line is in sight, and the kickstarter page for Corsairs is almost ready to be submitted for approval. I need to make some small final adjustments, run over the maths again for the millionth time, and hit submit… it is close!

The bleed has been adjusted (I made an error with the cover that has been fixed), and the finished book will use a light blue cover stock.

A part of all the organisation and planning that has gone into this is sorting out the costs of shipping. Shipping from Australia is expensive, and maybe, just maybe, the currency conversion rates for the weak Australian dollar in comparison to the US dollar, the Euro, or the Pound, will make a difference, but the fact remains: shipping from Australia is expensive. Working out exactly what those incidental costs will be is important. The cost of printing the zine is A, the cost of art, writing, and all those other creative parts B, the cost of shipping is C, and the cost of the shipping materials is D.

The cover is 250gsm stock, while the interior pages are 100gsm. The zine is saddle stitched, and printed in black and white. Again, the printed book will have a light blue cover.

A+B+C+D is what the zine costs me, to send to you, the backer. I have quotes for A, a cost for B, and know what D will be. The cost of C, shipping, is dependent on weight. The weight of the zine, the weight of the packaging, and the added weight of shipping labels and so forth.

To aid in this process, and to make sure everything is ready to roll as it should be, I have had a test book printed. This proof helps me for a number of reasons, one: I can test the actual finished weight of the zine. Two, I can make any adjustments required (already I can see that aspects of the character sheet are too close to the gutter and need to be adjusted), and so on. Plus, it is super nice to hold a physical copy of the zine, and to see what it will look like.

It should be noted that the print proof is not using blue stock for the cover (as the finished zine will), but all the paper weights are correct and accurate, and will give me the information I need to move forward with shipping estimates. I must say that I am rather happy with the finished product. A neat, nice looking little booklet that contains all the rules required to go a-plundering the ships and shipping lanes of the Alderil Empire in a sky ship are present and correct! Very nice!

A sneak peek at the contents – all the rules and background included. Rules for characters and actions, rules for creating characters, rules for ships and ship to ship combat, rules and lists of equipment, scoundrels, a quick reference, and the obligatory character and ship sheets!
Also, my playtesters complained that I didn’t mention all the arson they undertook in the dedication, and to be fair to them, there was a lot of it.

Zine Quest – Moving Forward

Tentative cover…

As Zine Quest approaches with the unstoppable momentum of… a… a thing with unstoppable momentum, preparations are well underway. The rules are fairly well finalised, and playtesting continues apace. Layout is almost complete, though I have a few more pieces of art to finish. I have finished the cover, and have investigated shipping costs. I still need to confirm with the publisher, and finalise the weight of the zine, which will give me the final shipping costs, but everything is moving, and generally speaking, it’s moving forward.

Prior to Zine Quest, everything has since been modified to accommodate the KS rules for colour.

It has been a lot of fun running through playtests, we’re currently in the process of testing a mini-campaign that will be available as a stretch goal, should Corsairs make it that far. There has been much chaos, many fires, and even a riot or two in the ports of the floating island of Teboa. All good fun!

Playtesting with the old character and ship sheets, but with the new rules.

Over the course of playtesting, we have changed a bunch of the smaller rules, streamlined some others, and heavily modified stats throughout. Playtesting is such a valuable process. I was thrilled the core mechanisms held together and work well, but playtesting has helped everything else. The book has been significantly restructured as a result of feedback, as well as a result of flipping through to find things during play. If I had my time over, I wouldn’t draft the zine in a layout program like Affinity – I would write it in word, and transfer it to Affinity, but it has been a hell of a learning process, and I feel much more comfortable dealing with Affinity had I done it the other way around.

The manor house, storage sheds and stables are all on fire… it was meant to be such a simple mission!

At the moment I am working through a list of updates, creating the Kickstarter page, and working on ideas for Stretch Goals. When I get the final weights from the printer, I will be in a better place to set the funding goal, backing levels, and make the choice about whether to roll shipping into the price, or to charge for it separately. Being in Australia has some serious implications for shipping, and everything comes back to weight, but I’ll write more about this another day.

With everything coming together, albeit slowly, I am hoping that Corsairs will be launched as a part of the Zine Quest in the first or second week of February! Keep your patchless eye open for it!

Achievements – Board Gaming

2019 saw me step back into board gaming in a bigger way than I had for a number of years. Last post I wrote about all things related to 2019 and role playing, this post will focus on board games.

ShepparCon

2019 saw the third ShepparCon take off, a local game convention squarely focused on board games. Every year we have grown a little more, and given our venue for the last two years, some questions need to be asked and answered in the planning phase for 2020. It was a great event, and over 150 attendees came over the weekend for games large and small. I am proud to be a part of the organising committee for this convention, and have had a blast running the Wits and Wagers tournaments the last few years. A big shout out to Dominic Crapuchettes, from North Star Games, for being such a sport and recording a silly congratulations message with me for the winning team, or, as they were dubbed, the Wits and Wagers Champions of the World. It was a highlight!

Game Designs

Tentatively: Colour Jungle…

One of the other organisers of Shepparcon is a board game designer by the name of Karl Lange (you can find his website here), and we had the opportunity to put our heads together and brainstorm some ideas over the course of the convention. One game concept span out into three or four different game ideas, some of which are still in development. The most polished of these Karl took with him to Essen last year, and while we haven’t had any solid bites yet, we have had some positive and encouraging feedback, so that is something!

Working with a co-designer has been a great experience, and I hope it is something Karl and I can continue into 2020. This general focus on board games led me to create two other small prototypes, both of which deserve junking, but the bug has bitten. I am hoping to continue it in the coming year.

The hardest thing, as I have previously expressed in regards to role playing games, is finding both the time and the people for playtesting. I’m lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of gamers, but very few (that I know at least), who are interested in design. I am lucky that I have a long suffering group of close friends and family who will tolerate playtesting my games, but it is still a significant difficulty to find the time to make it happen.

As for playing games, this year has seen a significant rise in the number of games I have managed to get to the table. There has been some solid variety, many new games (many of those from Kickstarter), but I have also managed to blow the dust off a bunch of older games that have been sitting in my shelf unloved for years. For stand outs and most played games, well, I think that’s something I’ll come back to in a later blog post!

Podcasting

Last but not least 2019 saw me dust off my microphone and get a few things recorded for some podcasts. Last year I had the pleasure of gracing the On Board Games and On RPGs podcasts. It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with Don and Erik, both wonderful people, ever accommodating of my umming and ahhing, and general inability to finish a sentence with brevity.