What Next For Mr Grim?

I have, now, effectively cleared my desk of RPG work, something I was hoping to do two months ago but between health and internet drama issues that didn’t happen.

There’s been one casualty, the Gilder project, though I would like to get back to that at some point.

I’m winding down my role-playing output to concentrate, for a while, on my writing instead. I want to get an actual novel (or two) done and out there and to see if I can build a successful writing career in the same manner I’ve built a reasonably successful RPG publishing venture. I hope I can take a few of you over with me.

What does this mean for Postmortem Studios?

Not a huge amount in the immediate future, there’s a bunch of projects winding down but they’re things I’ve farmed out to other people or things that have been on the cards for a while.

In the pipeline for future release are:

  • Cthentacle: Spankham Asylum
  • ImagiNation
  • Agents of SWING: Section Books

Other than that I have no concrete RPG plans or freelancing and my involvement in the above will be (limited to) layout, editing and art direction.

This has been the plan for a while now, since January in fact, but I’d be lying if I said recent events hadn’t also taken their toll on my enthusiasm and my desire to provide material for an apparently ungrateful and hyper-critical audience. I also acknowledge a real need for me to work at a more relaxed and less pressurised pace on things that enthuse me in that moment. I’m also awaiting some results on a mass of blood tests that may try and tackle my exhaustion issues that are ongoing, even if my depression is considerably better.

I’ll be taking the next couple of weeks semi-off, other than working on a Legacy of Frankenstein short story and finishing off primary writing on my pulp story collection. I need a rest, I’ll be getting my blood test results and I’ll be taking  the first part of my driving test soon, which I need to bone up on.

Don’t worry, I’m not giving up on gaming. It’s in my blood, it’s what I love and I’ll continue to pump blogs and short mini projects out as well as still attending at least two conventions a year. Maybe I’ll even use some of this reduced hecticity to run more games over Google Hangouts. Who knows?

If you want to follow and support my writing career, the blog for that is Tales of Grim.

While I have your attention:

  1. I’m always looking for fans and volunteers to run my games at cons around the world since I can’t get to many. If you want the opportunity to do that, let me know.
  2. I’m happy to sell stock of my books direct to gaming stores. If this might interest your store let me know.
  3. I’m trying to get more comfortable with ‘putting myself out there’ more. So if you’d like me to appear on a podcast, hangout, internet radio show, guest blog or whatever, please do get in touch. I have opinions on most things and will try to be interesting/funny/controversial (delete where applicable).
  4. If you have any questions or requests about any of our games please leave them in the comments and I’ll get to them as soon as I can.

Thanks all for your recent support and appreciation, wish me luck as I shift gears!


Colony Moon: Edumacational!

I was dead chuffed to see this come across my G+ feed today (and if you’re not on G+ why not?). Being ‘educational’ can be the kiss of death to games, but I’m incredibly pleased that this game was this useful in this context. Thanks Anthony! You can buy Colony: Moon HERE:

In May, when I first got James Desborough’s Colony Moon, I was delighted by the premise and looked forward to getting to play it. As I work in a language department, I also felt that this was a product that could be useful in the classroom.

A few weeks later, after a few sample sessions, I decided to take it to work. Work for me is at a business school.

I chose a class of international students in their first year of university, and assigned some of them the task of familiarizing themselves with the space race, and the others with current plans for Luna and Mars. We don’t need to go into how many of them had never given space a thought. I linked these researches to product development, product life cycles, and the ongoing demon of expanding their active vocabulary.

The next stage was to assign the reading of the background for the game. Students returned with some questions, and we held a discussion regarding the factions, their goals, and their motivations.

We followed this up with a trial run of the game mechanics. The students had to use the source material to teach themselves how to play under a time limit. Once we got over the partly surprising hurdle of these students being almost entirely unfamiliar with the use of dice for anything other than counting spaces on kiddie game boards or gambling, we were ready to go into the fourth stage of the project: simulating our colony. It was at this point that the students really started to understand the underlying purpose of all of this, and really get into it.

Personally, I like cooperative play but I recognize the value and impact of competition, so I set the class into small groups of 4-5. The progress of each group would be judged against the others, as would the quality and originality of their solutions to the problems they encountered.

Groups had to guide themselves in running the game (with some on the spot assistance from me) and take notes regarding the events, their solutions, and the fate of the colony.

The final stage was to have each student turn in a report of the simulation, describing what their colony had encountered, the effectiveness of their solutions and the administrators, the actual fate of the colony at the end of the simulation, and their thoughts about what might happen afterward.

I was very pleased to read in these reports how much the students enjoyed the concept of the assignments, the challenge of having to use their English under pressure to learn and demonstrate a set of actions, and the actual situations they faced in the simulation. Initially there was some obvious, but unvoiced, resistance to the idea of a “game.” Not only did Colony: Moon expand their idea of the meaning of the word game, it further opened them to the idea of working together in discussion and debate to develop their understanding of other subjects and courses.

Using the game in class provides challenges for students with little to no background in gaming, and many more for those students with limited English skills and limited awareness of the history and hopes of space exploration. Taking things in stages, and connecting these stages to other real-world applications and requirements can turn these challenges into very worthwhile training.

I’d buy that for a Dollar!

RPGNOW has a big sale on and you can go here and spend your hard-earned cash on our PDFs and thereby make me happy. At least, as happy as one can be whilst being pelted with Olympic propaganda from all sides.

To double my pleasure you could pop across and drop the money you save on the Machinations of the Space Princess. There’s, just barely, time to fund it IF you pull your finders out your arses.

Free Dust Tactics Reference/Playbook

I got sick of looking through every bloody booklet trying to find the rules references.

Obviously this is incomplete, I don’t have all the stuff released in the US yet as European releases lag behind (Boooo!)

Should make a nice little reference book and the aspect should be suitable for tablets (made with Nexus 7 in mind).


Ian’s Updates

Living Catalogue

History Farce Guide to Georgian Slang

Whore’s Blade Heroics

Miniatures Store (With bundle deals with the books)

Reviews and interviews on YouTube

Is It Awesome

Camelot Cosmos – Hawk’s Hollow – RELEASED

The following adventure is intended for beginning players using the FATE roleplaying system and theCamelot Cosmos setting.

This introductory adventure should provide players and GMs alike with a good sense of the unique features of the Camelot Cosmos setting and a base for future adventures, but is also designed to be easily adapted to other fantasy roleplaying systems and settings if required.



Camelot Cosmos Bundle (PDF)

Just Some Random System Ideas

I was doing the washing up and, as generally happens when you’re doing something mindless, my brain wandered. This being my brain we’re talking about, it wandered off into RPG systems and went down a little train of thought…

FATE style d6-d6 gives a nice probability curve that zeroes out and actually favours relatively realistic system construction because of it. All the wild, pulpy, narrative action comes from the stuff that’s bolted on.

Rather than having the positive and negative dice being the same, couldn’t we make one positive and one negative of different sizes. Say D6-D4 for example. The better you are the bigger your dice, the worse you are the smaller. The more difficult something is the bigger the negative dice that the GM rolls.

So your stats would be a D4 to D12 spread (1-5 essentially, same spread as Storyteller) but you could go off the edges with penalties or bonuses representing that extra amount. So you’d have steps, for example…


To allow for the excesses of chance, allow highest roll to ‘explode’ and add one each time it does. So if you rolled a D4 and got three 4’s in a row – and then something else, your score would be 6.

Maybe a standard Stat/Skill split but the constricted range means you’d have to go Stat governing skill, probably, rather than making them additive. So if you have a Strength of D4 you could only have a Strength-based skill of D4.

You could rip the Focus system out of Xpress (in fact this whole thing could be an Xpress build) to allow for specialities to compensate for potentially low skills, so each level of Focus would step you up one.

EG: Skill: Shooting/Rifles/Assault Rifles D6/D8/D10

If you get a zero total it’s a marginal success/fail (GM discretion). The sort of thing where you barely leap the gap and end up hanging by your fingernails. Positive number success, negative number failure. The lower the worse, the higher the better.

It’s an RPG so we need to work out how people get killed (or not). I think I’d like to preserve a separate damage roll, even though it slows things down a bit and I’d like to wrench something off Silhouette (and from an old InPhobia magazine article) by going for wound levels. A good hit would step up the damage die though (one step per positive, so +3 hit on D6 damage would make it d12 damage). You’d roll your Resilience against the damage you take.

How do people get hurt?

  1. Scrape – Resilience – No effect at all, cosmetic.
  2. Light Wound – Resilience+1 – No effect but +1 to any future damage rolls for each one taken.
  3. Down – Resilience+2 – KO’ed/crippled, out of the fight, +2 to any future damage rolls for each one taken.
  4. Dead – Resilience+3.

Debilitating wounds would be special attacks, more difficult.

So if you have D8 Resilience (Average, step 3) You’d have:

  • LW: 3
  • Down: 4
  • Dead: 5

I’m thinking bare hands would have (Strength-3) damage and various melee weapons would step that up (+1 dagger, +2 short sword, +3 Longsword) and so on). I think to be realistic (if that’s your bag) guns would need to be pretty damn deadly. So I think a d8 base for a 9mm gun.

There’d be a load of other details, but you can see the basic idea here.

So, by way of example: Two average but professional swordsmen face off.

Sir Dude: Gets initiative, lashes out with his attack, he’s got a sword skill of d8 and scores 4.

Sir Sweet: Tries to defend himself with a parry (using his sword skill). He gets 6 and, so, easily deflects the blow. He counter attacks with 3.

Sir Dude: Ducks under using his agility with a roll of 7 and sweeps with his sword, getting a 3.

Sir Sweet: Tries to parry again, but this time only rolls a 1. Sir Dude has gotten right past his defence by +2. So rolls damage for his longsword, d8 stepped up twice makes d12. He rolls a 12 and a 7, so that’s only 12. Sir Sweet is in serious trouble. He only rolls a 3 for his defence which means Sir Dude hit him for damage 9. He’s so run through and so utterly dead it’s not even funny.

You’d probably need some additional safety net for PCs (it’s a bit deadly) but there’s the nub of a system in there.

Machinations: The Asteroid

What I’m going to do with Princess Madan Kaana’s private asteroid is to present a location, chock full of ideas, antagonists, NPCs etc which you can either play through as a straight-up adventure (escape!) or as a location you can use in your own sci-fantasy campaigns or have your players kidnapped to in your normal campaigns.

Think of it almost like an indoor hex-crawl, a resource of ideas and weird, sexy, scary shit for you to use. Satine’s nea, graphical renderings should make it look awesome and inspire even more thoughts and adventure ideas and I really hope people will take it and run with it.

This asteroid is many things. A slave station for the mining of unobtanium, a pleasure palace for a jaded alien princess, a minor space port, a military garrison, a prison and even a zoo for the strange creatures from many worlds. Princess Kaana could be a patron just as easily as a villain.

I think you’ll like this if it gets written and it can be so much more than ‘just’ an adventure.


Machinations: Tech & Artefacts

You use ‘magic’ as the handwavey thing in fantasy games. In a sci-fantasy game the handwave is much more likely to be psi or tech but for the truly outrageous stuff you want a handily extinct elder race that’s left all sorts of interesting ‘stuff’ around that doesn’t make any sense.

That’s your magic item equivalent.

Another trick is making blasters and lasers useful, but also making sure they don’t supersede melee combat because, well, everyone likes hitting things and who am I to deny them the pleasure?

That’ll be a tricky interaction between armour, force fields and weapons, but it shouldn’t be too complex as it comes out, as far as the players and GM are concerned. Other stuff you don’t need rules for so much, food pills, communicators and so on. A canndy GM can just handle that kind of stuff on the fly, no problem.

I don’t think I’ll have to go into too much detail, past the basics and that’ll leave plenty of room for other cool things.

Spaceships? Vehicles? These things are just big, big, big, scary monsters. Really, what’s the difference between a starfighter and a dragon?

Fuck all.

Machinations: Characters

If I haven’t already been clear enough on this point, my intention should Machinations of the Space Princess get funded is to provide a toolkit. In this instance a toolkit for running adult science-fantasy adventures using LotfP as a base.

That means there’ll be some quick and dirty changes, tables and other Vornheimesque goodies for you to be going on with and optional rules you can jigger around with.

One of the bigger things I think would have to change would be the approach to some of the characters.

Psion: Replacing the magic-user and the cleric, a psion would be non-vancian, level dependent with less powers but more flexibility to use them. Probably much more like a Cleric than a magic-user and using re-skinned spells as powers.

Fighter: The fighter needs some extra options I think, especially in a game where blasters and guns are getting to be as important as a sword and shield. Perhaps some special combat abilities, offsetting penalties, letting them do some cool stuff. Disarms, crippling blows, defensive fighting, killing blows, that sort of thing. Formalising GM fiat a little – essentially.

Specialist: All characters are going to need better access to skills. That’s the nature of a ‘modern’ setting. Skills become more important. Specialists should, then, become even better at this defining thing. Jacks of all trades (potentially). I’ve a feeling the number of skills would also need to expand for the setting.

Mystic Alien: You know the kind, full of mumbo-jumbo. Basically the same as ‘elves’ but a bit more customisable since there’s all kinds of alien races. A lot of alien features are going to be purely cosmetic (Star Trek headpieces) but others are going to impact. How about some cool random tables?

Physical Alien: If Mystic Aliens are Vulcans, Physical aliens are Klingons (or Gorn). Most aliens in this kind of thing are particular human characteristics writ large, exaggerated. These are going to be your ‘dwarf’ equivalent but again, with more customisation and more (yay!) random tables. Also, robots.