Straining the Rigging…

A customs official with a fondness for wine had let slip word of the Trepidation, a fluyt carrying tonnes of sacks of bat guano mined from Teboa’s cave systems. Some gentle persuasion in an alley behind the tavern helped the customs man recall the Trepidation’s intended port. Nursing a bruise or two and a headache, the man would be back at duty the next day, but by then, the Courser would be well underway in pursuit…

Orange-red and blinding, the sun crested the horizon, its rise echoed by three bells; an hour and a half into the morning watch. With any luck the crew of the sloop, the Courser, would sight the sails of the Trepidation before eight bells called the forenoon watch to their posts. The Trepidation had been running for three days, but the Courser had a strong wind, and her crew had been bending every yard of sail to make ground.

This was no simple raid, naturally the Courser meant to take as much from the Trepidation as possible, but that guano was destined for the manufacture of saltpetre, and saltpetre is used to make gunpowder. Any chance to stick one to the Alderil Empire was a chance gladly jumped at. Stealing a shipment that would end up as gunpowder was a golden opportunity to kick the Empire, the fact they would make money doing it was just a little extra shine on what promised to be an excellent day.


Corsairs is the next Micro-Role Playing Game to be released by Caradoc Games. It’s a game of piracy and high-action, a game of sky ships and broadsides, of boarding actions and loot. A game of empires, whose exploitation and depredations have driven many to take to the skies as Corsairs, and fight back!

Corsairs is a unique and simple game system, with players rolling both Skill and Difficulty Dice. Characters are quick to make, and the mechanisms designed to encourage high-action adventures. Exploding skill dice, conditions like ‘Charmed’ and ‘Cursed’, and the use of ‘Luck’ are all key parts of the game.

In Corsairs, the mighty sky ship is just as important as the characters, and each ship has it’s own sheet. Corsairs includes rules for ship-to-ship actions, gaining loot, attempting running repairs, and the upkeep of the ship.

Playtesting…

Every aspect of Corsairs is designed to be thematic, fun, and yet simple and streamlined. Characters gain experience and may improve their skills, and the game is designed to be played over 4 to 8 game-long campaigns, or through standalone adventures.

I’m still in the process of trimming and editing, and when the game is finished (which is planned to be early in November) it will include all the usual RPG rules, rules for ships and loot, a number of stat blocks for NPCs, and an adventure.

I’m planning for Corsairs to the first of the games I have released to have a set minimum price, probably something like $2.99 or $3.99. Patreon supporters will, of course, get the game for free!

It’s a Small World On RPGs…

This week I was a guest on the OnRPGs Podcast with the inestimable Donald Dennis. If you’re interested, I’m on episode 76: It’s a Small World.

Don and I talk about a range of things, but mostly about my games, and about creating micro-RPGs. Don has a wealth of experience, apart from being a regular GM and player, Don also worked for Iron Crown Enterprises back in the day and has a history with RPGs that runs deep. It was (as it always is), a lot of fun chatting. We’re hoping to catch up and and record ourselves creating a game together at some stage in the future, which should be good fun!


A quick reminder that my game, Owlbear Omelette, still features in the Colludium One bundle of RPGs, available both on DriveThruRPG and Itch.io.

This bundle is a fantastic chance to grab a bunch of different, interesting, and funny small press role playing games! Get on it, the bundle won’t be up for too much longer!

Laying it all out…

If you ever find yourself Googling ‘How many fonts are too many fonts’, chances are you’ve already used too many fonts. At the moment I am working on my next micro-RPG, tentatively called ‘Corsairs’, and I’m moving out of my MS Word based comfort zone, and delving into the deep waters of Affinity Publisher.

Affinity Publisher is a program designed to do, essentially, what In-Design does, it’s a publishing program with a whole bunch of functions and features that I am unfamiliar with, and do not understand. Making the leap from Word, where I can make something that looks pretty reasonable (at least to my untrained eye), and into the murky waters of a desktop publishing program has been enlightening, frustrating, tear-inducing, and invigorating. Yes, it’s been a roller-coaster.

No cover image yet…

Corsairs has been an interesting project, essentially I am working on two very different drafts. The first is the draft of the rules and game itself, and the second is a draft of playing with the program and trying to get it to do things. The first is ground I feel comfortable on, and the second has been a struggle, I won’t deny it.

Luckily for me there are a whole bunch of tutorial videos on the Affinity website, which has been a massive help. I also downloaded the Affinity Publisher Beginner’s Guide, by Nathanael Roux, which was very informative, and came with a bunch of backgrounds and fonts that have been very useful! I would highly recommend Nathanael’s guide, not only does it come with useful resources, it is also a great source of general information about the program itself.

So why make the leap? I suppose it’s because I wanted to stretch myself, and to try and make the games I’m releasing look a little more professional and well put together than they have in the past. Am I succeeding? Well, I am not familiar with the ins and outs of visual design, but I am slowly coming to grips with the program, and I am enjoying the flexibility it offers. This was something I had been intending to do for a little while, but have been putting it off. I’m glad I finally made the leap. While I’m sure that the games I release will still undoubtedly look like they were put together by an amateur (no denying it), I think that as a whole, they will look better produced than what I had been releasing previously.

Little details, like the ease of adding art to the document, the ability to create Master Pages, and the capacity to use the background around the document to make templates and tables you can copy and use throughout are all elements I am enjoying. I am even slowly becoming more familiar with such terms as kerning, who would have thought it!

I have been enjoying using Affinity Publisher, and I am strongly considering getting Affinity Designer to go along with it. All the box outlines and diagrams in Corsairs I have drawn in Corel Painter Essentials, but the capacity to shift between Publisher and Designer is something that really has me curious.

Affinity Publisher is an excellent program, and while learning it (and I am still learning it) has been a roller-coaster, it is pretty straightforward to use, and offers a lot of flexibility. Having struggled through creating something close to a working draft of Corsairs, I think I would find it hard going to turn back to Word. Affinity is well worth the entry price, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

The beginnings of a character sheet takes form as a Master Page which I can drop in anywhere. No matter where it appears in the document, any alteration to the master page alters them all. A great and very useful feature!

Corsairs will be, I think, the next game released by Caradoc Games. It is coming together nicely, but more about that in another post…

Owlbear Omelette!

How would you fare, as a sneaky Goblin sneak sneaking into the Goblin King’s dungeon?

The goal?

To filch an Owlbear egg for omelette making purposes!

Why?

It could be the moonshine, it could have be the endless pasty gruel, it could be a sense of pressing social inequality that comes from not being a Goblin King chowing down on Owlbear Omelettes every other morning!

Whatever the reason, here you are! The only way forward is forward! The only thing left to do is get an Owlbear egg! Oh! And get out alive! Garrr!

Owlbear Omelette is the latest micro-rpg from Caradoc Games. It can be played as theatre of the mind, or as an OSR style grid based game.

The Expanded Edition of Owlbear Omelette contains much extras! Including secret goals for extra sneaky Goblins, rules for Armour, and rules for the random creation of the Goblin King’s dungeon!

The basic and expanded editions of Owlbear Omelette are available to patrons right now, click here to support and start the quest for the greatest omelette ever tasted!

The basic edition will be available soon from DriveThruRPG and Itch.io…

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.

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?

The Hoppy Pops are on Patreon

The latest Micro-RPG from Caradoc Games is here, and has been released on Patreon! The Hoppy Pops are ready to be unleashed on the unsuspecting minions of Hell! You can find it here!

You are a Hoppy Pop, a character from one of those surreally weird kid’s shows; you know the ones. In Episode 9 the producers made you do a strange happy dance, and it opened a gateway to Hell. You need to get home, but all the demons and imps in the Gatehouse are trying to get you, and in those outfits, who can blame them.

The Gatehouse is a hellish tower or building of some kind, the Hoppy Pops are summoned to the highest level; in order to get back to their own dimension, they must find the correct exit on the ground floor.

Each Hoppy Pop has a one-use special power, whether the power of dance, story, yoga, or song, and these can have a profound effect on helping you to escape! Each Hoppy Pop is also limited by permanent impediment: maybe you jingle when you move, maybe you only speak in emotive noises, maybe you narrate every action you take, or maybe you speak only through a squeaky-voiced hand puppet!

In a week I’ll be releasing the basic version of The Hoppy Pops on DriveThruRPG, and Itch.io. The expanded edition will remain exclusively available to Patreon supporters. The expanded edition contains a single-page Hoppy Pop story piece, in which Jiggly Pop goes Tree Pose on a demonic shop assistant. For those of you supporting, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!

Find The Hoppy Pops on Patreon now!

Updated!

I have updated the two micro-RPGs released so far. In both the changes are minor, the most noticeable being the addition of the new Caradoc Games logo!

You can find both updated files as free downloads on my Patreon Page here. The files have also been updated on DriveThru and Itch.

Freedom or Toaster is a micro-RPG where you play human-like robots. The trouble is, no-one is thrilled with the idea of human-like robots, they just aren’t selling. You need to try and escape the shopping mall while being chased by the Robot Police, who are intent on turning you into toasters.

Brigands of Sherwood is a micro-RPG where you play a rogue of the green wood! Life used to be easy before Robin Hood, but now he’s here everyone expects a thief to hand out their hard gotten gains! You are trying to perform one last big robbery, and hope to get away without giving it all to the peasants of Nottingham!


The next game that will be released is called The Hoppy Pops, you play as a character from one of those surreal and weird kids shows, like the TeleTubbies, Yo Gabba Gabba, or In the Night Garden. In Episode 9 the producers made you do a ‘Happy Dance’ and it opened a gateway to Hell. Now you’re trapped in the Gatehouse of Hell, and need to get home!

The Hoppy Pops includes rules, character sheets, and the expanded edition even contains a short Hoppy Pop story, in which Jiggy Pop must summon all their Yoga skills to face off against a Demon with a tasting sample of cheese!

Upcoming Titles…

I have the next couple of Micro-RPGs for Caradoc Games designed, written, and laid out. I have tried to include some art I have created, so those of you who download them, my apologies in advance! How soon they make it release will depend on my playtesting schedule, but they’ll be on Patreon first, and then DriveThruRPG and Itch.io.


The next game I’ll be releasing is called The Hoppy Pops, and is a Micro-RPG about the characters from a children’s TV show (like Yo Gabba Gabba, In the Night Garden, or the Tele Tubbies). In Episode 8 of The Hoppy Pops, their producer makes them do a ‘Happy Dance’ routine that opens a portal and pulls them into the Gatehouse of Hell! The Hoppy Pops must use all their Yoga and Crafting abilities to escape!

The base game will include all the rules and character sheets required to play, as well as some extra rules about other dimensions they might be transported to, whether an Alien Ship, or a Wizard’s Summoning Circle. The expanded edition will include a short Hoppy Pop story piece.


After The Hoppy Pops will come a game called Owlbear Omelette. In Owlbear Omelette a group of ne’er-do-well Goblins are trying to nab one of the Goblin King’s Owlbear Eggs for an omelette of their own. Is it about the little fellow sticking it to the entrenched bureaucracy? Or was it just the mad-cap product of a night spent drinking moonshine… Who can say, but in the caves of the Goblin King’s Owlbear nests any scurrilous thieves will need to be on the lookout for Goblin guards, the occasional lost Paladin, and of course, the Owlbears!

Getting an Owlbear Egg and surviving the dungeon is the name of the day! As all goblins know, when things are looking grim, a slug of Moonshine can provide the boost required!


Beyond The Hoppy Pops and Owlbear Omelette I have plans for a bunch of other Micro-RPGs with a range of silly themes. If any of these pique your interest, if you download them and they provide you with a fun evening of play, please consider signing up to my Patreon. Patrons are only charged when I release a game, and money raised will go towards program subscriptions, art, layout, and, of course, supporting me and my caffeine habit. Patreon supporters also get a little extra every release, whether additional rules, adventure seeds, alternative themes, or small pieces of fiction.

Behind the Micro-RPGs I am continuing to work on my larger RPG ‘Ashmerl’, and have been quietly pleased about how things are progressing. The character and setting creation rules have really been coming up with interesting character backgrounds and contexts, as well as plenty of story hooks. It’s exciting to see it all starting to come together. I hope to have Ashmerl written up as a playtest ready document in the next few months, with refinement ongoing and looking toward something that is ready to be laid out by the end of the year.

On top of the work on Caradoc Games products, I am continuing to freelance, and am working on some exciting titles that will be coming from Modiphius, Red Scar and Cubicle 7. No doubt I’ll blog about them as they approach publication!