MotSP: Vogons – Race Creation

tve3939-2-155As an exercise in showing how easy it is to create new race templates and traits for MotSP from any inspiration, here’s a comedy example (that is, nonetheless, throughly suited to MotSP).

They are one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy – not actually evil, but bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn’t even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without an order, signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters. If you want to get a lift from a Vogon, forget it. They are vile and ill tempered. If you want to get a drink from a Vogon, stick your finger down his throat. If you want to annoy a vogon, feed his grandmother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

Billions of years ago, when the Vogons first crawled out of the primeval seas of Vogsphere, laid panting and heaving on the planet’s virgin shores… when the first rays of the young Vogsol sun had shone across them… it seemed as if the forces of evolution had simply given up on them then and there, turned aside in disgust and written them off as an ugly mistake. They would never evolve again. They shouldn’t have survived. The fact that they did is a testament to the thick-willed stubbornness of these creatures. Evolution? they said to themselves. Who needs it? What nature refused to do for them they simply did without until they were able to correct the gross anatomical inconveniences with surgery.

The natural forces of Vogsphere worked overtime to make up for their blunder. They brought forth scintillating jeweled scuttling crabs, which the Vogons ate, smashing them with large iron mallets; aspiring trees which the Vogons cut down to use the firewood for cooking the crabs; and elegant gazellelike creatures with dewey eyes which the Vogons would catch and sit on (they were useless for transport because their backs snapped under the weight, but the Vogons sat on them anyway).

The planet whirled away for unhappy millennia until the Vogons discovered the principles of interstellar travel. Within a few short Vog years every Vogon had migrated to the Megabrantis cluster, the political hub of the galaxy. They now form the powerful backbone of the Galactic Civil Service. Also, some of the young Vogons join the Vogon Guard Corps, which, aside from making them look moderately less hideous what with dashing uniforms and all that, also allows for exciting promotion opportunities such as Senior Shouting Officer. Despite their intelligence, they remain little changed since their first appearance a billion billion years ago. Every year twenty-seven thousand jeweled scuttling crabs are imported, then they while away a drunken night smashing them to bits with iron mallets. They have as much sex appeal as a road accident.

Race Template


  • Educated: +1 free skill point in lore.
  • Fanatical: +1 Will, +1 Constitution
  • Large: -1 to defences, +1 hit point per level. +1 damage in close combat.
  • Blubber (Scales): +1 Armour
  • Born Bureaucrat (New trait): +2 to Save Rolls or +1 to Skill levels when dealing with red tape.


  • Stat Penalty: -4 Comliness.
  • Stat Penalty: -4 Charisma.

Terrible poets.
Often quite handy with an iron mallet.

Vogon Guard NPC (50xp)

“I’ll tell my aunt what you said.”

Close Defence: 11
Ranged Defence: 11
Armour: 1 (Natural blubber) 1d3+1 in rubber overalls.
Hit Dice: 3+3 (16hp)
Initiative: 0
Movement: 10
Attacks: 1/+0 (close combat), 1/+1 (Stun pistol)
Damage: 1d6
Saves: 5 (Toughness 7, Will 6)
Traits: (See Vogon)
Skills: Weapon Expert Pistol 1, Lore: Regulations: 1

Vogon Standard Guard Uniform 1
A set of thick rubber dungarees, prone to filling with sweat but considered very dashing by vogons and based on their own, dense, rubbery flesh. While ‘fashionable’ by vogon standards, a guard must by them out of their own salary.
Light armour, 1d3 protection, street fashion, cost 250gp

Stun Ray
Worn in a low-slung holster, the vogon stun ray is a fine example that simple engineering doesn’t always produce something aesthetically pleasing.
Small Calibre, d4 damage, Close Range, Shocking, Stunning Ammo Save N/A, Cost 100gp

New trait: Stunning
What you do to the target as damage is applied as a penalty to stun saves from the shocking attack, but the weapon does no other damage. x1.0

Camelot Cosmos: Our Honoured Blood RELEASED!

The history of the realm of Pendragon is, in many ways, the history of its noble houses, the long, bloody, often glorious and sometimes shameful record of the ambitions, victories and defeats of the powerful individuals who have steered their families to greatness and schemed and fought their way to the very apex of Pendragon society. Noble houses have determined which among their number have held the crown, and have always competed against each other to ensure nearness to or control over the throne. They have also influenced the election of Arch-Bishops of Camelot, placed their second sons in senior positions within the church, formed the backbone of the Pendragon Legion, prosecuted the war against Morgan le Fay, betrayed their King and raised rebellions or saved their monarch’s life and crushed uprisings against him. No monarch of Kingsland can be successful without the support of the great noble houses, and yet each must also be aware that if he allows them too much power or grants them too many concessions his own royal authority is irrevocably weakened.

Get it HERE

Our Honoured Blood is a supplement for Camelot Cosmos.

The game would also make a great background to use Machinations of the Space Princess in.

MotSP: Stellar Villain Generator


Roll Title Name 1 Name 2 Descriptor
1 Baron/Baroness Bay Att The Violent
2 Caliph/Calipha Bar Eg The Merciless
3 Dame Caw Ig The Undying
4 Dear Leader Kah Ea The Eternal
5 Despot Pho Ted The Insane
6 Dread Lord/Lady Mun Og The Bloodthirsty
7 Duke/Duchess Nuh Oog The Impaler
8 Earl/Lady Rab Eet The Genocidal
9 Emir/Emira Rib Oon The Uneven Tempered
10 His/Her Excellency Soh Noo The Angry
11 His/Her Majesty Saw Ni The Murderous
12 King/Queen Suh Nah The Maniac
13 Landgrave Tay Zan The Bastard/Bitch
14 Lord/Lady Tah Zin The Unpleasant
15 Marquis/Marquessa Toh Pee The Deviant
16 President Quee Muh The Child-Slayer
17 Prince/Princess Zay Buh The World-Killer
18 Sheikh Zah Bee The Purifier
19 Sultan/Sultana Zol Doh The Vigilant
20 Tyrant Ning Ka The Impolite

EG: Roll of 6,12,4,18 = Dread Lord Suhea the Purifier


Machinations: Design Decisions

MOTSP029colorIt isn’t my game, it’s your game. The idea from the start was to present a game that people could hack, mangle and mutilate into whatever they wanted. It’s worth making a post about the design decisions I did make – and why – though. That might give people a little bit of insight into why and how I came to those decisions.

Some of the feedback I got in playtesting I wilfully ignored (after all, your game is your game and my book is my book!) This might explain some of that too.

Implicit Setting

Quite often I play around with concepts and settings and it was nice to do something different. Selling someone on a setting as well as a system can be tricky and I wanted to go ‘old school’ in presentation. OD&D and its like left a lot of things to interpretation and to the reader, players and Games Masters to join the dots themselves.

I always figured I could create settings later on, or others would, given that it’s open source.


I spread bonuses amongst the different stats a bit more to try and prevent ‘dump stats’ and to make everything useful in some way. So that was partly meta-reasons but also in some cases, simply because it made more sense to me. I included Comeliness as a flag that looks are important in the genre, either high or low.


If you look at the Cantina scene in Star Wars, watch Heavy Metal (one or two) or look at a lot of other SF series, comics and art you often barely see two aliens that look the same. Diversity is hugely important and just creating a list of different races wasn’t really optimal. If I provide the tools for creating a huge number of races then people can take it into their own hands, plus publish setting specific ones, new race traits or even books/booklets of races. The reason for making Charisma the first ‘penalty’ for taking lots of traits is again, referring back to the attraction/charm importance of the genre. The less human, the less ‘appealing’ and this was a way to reflect that. If you don’t like it, you can always substitute a free choice.


There’s been a lot of comparisons to 3e and feats but that wasn’t really what I was aiming for at all. I wanted the simplicity of LotFP skills while allowing a general, broad mechanism for doing ‘cool stuff’ and developing signature moves and attacks that compensated for the penalty. I also wanted to build in a capacity to avoid some of the combat ‘whiff’ factor and skills provided a way to do that.

Saving Throws

Old-School saving throws are pretty damn arbitrary and don’t mean much. Doing them this way (1/2 stat) was a way to address the ‘dump stat’ issue again and to create saves that could be used more intuitively in play.

Armour & Defence

I have never liked armour as making you harder to hit. So I decided to make it damage reduction. I also wanted to reduce the ‘whiff’ factor in combat and to encourage people to try crazy, interesting things that would stack up the penalties. Leaving defence fairly low is a good way to do that and making armour damage reduction – but random – adds a bit of tension and stops it from being all powerful.

The rest is, I think, pretty self explanatory!

Machinations of the Space Princess: Sponsorship Program

So, you like MotSP and you want to hack it, create a setting, run a blog, open a Wiki or publish stuff for it.

Awesome. Please do. Put ‘Compatible with Machinations of the Space Princess’ on the front cover. Knock yourself out.

Do what thou wilt.

If you want to get my seal of approval…








…just fuzz me a copy of the finished thing, a link to the site or whatever and if I think it’s hoopy I’ll give you a medal to proudly display there and I will big you up on the blog and give you linkage.


Taboos in Gaming: The Overlooked

In the fuss about me, the remainder of the panels and events Indie+ haven’t gotten the profile and attention that they should have. People who claim to care about their voices and concerns instead chose to fixate on me, to the cost of the other events.

Let’s do something to fix that a bit:

Taboos in Gaming Interview (Aftermath)

Here’s the recording of the interview.

If you have any comments, questions or follow-ups ask in the comments and I’ll try to address them. I’ll probably append some notes and links anyway.



[00:10] – It’s Dez-Buh-Ruh, rather than Dez-Bo-Row, but I didn’t have the heart to correct him.
[01:18] – I didn’t want trigger warnings, for reasons which become obvious later.
[02:10] – A reasonably full – but incomplete – bibliography of my work is here.
[02:45] – The blog post ‘In Defence of Rape’ can be found here.  The image at the top is of Leda and the Swan which at the time (spring 2012) was being subjected to censorship.
[03:05] – Tomb Raider rape controversy.  Keep in mind this game/scene was written by Rihanna Pratchett, one of the more prominent female writers in gaming.
[04:28] – ‘In Defence of the Use of Rape in Fiction’ is also a rather clumsy and unnecessarily long title. Part of the argument was about knee-jerk reactions so perhaps it made a powerful point than I intended.
[06:57] – I’ve had a quick look for a cached version of the original petition but have been unable to find one. If you can please link in the comments. The petitions in support of me are still up and I include the links here for sake of completeness.
[08:00] – I believe the pieces referred to were mostly the Mongoose Publishing humour books, Nymphology: Blue Magic, The Slayer’s Guide to Female Gamers and The Quintessential Temptress. I believe these are still available in PDF form at RPGNOW if you want to check them for yourselves to judge whether they qualify or not. Hentacle and Cthentacle probably also concern these people.
[08:40] – Referencing Tom Lehrer who remarked that satire was dead when Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m saying something more like people no longer recognise satire. They seem to take everything at face value. The whole Dickwolves saga is a pertinent example to our subculture of humour flying over people’s heads, despite supporting their PoV.
[08:50] – I’ll write a short piece on the new censorship below this timeline.
[13:00]Orson Scott Card.
[13:40]Prop 8.
[14:30]‘Rape Culture’.
[15:40] – I think I answer this fairly completely but it’s worth reiterating. Tastefulness and skill cannot be criteria to judge because they’re too subjective. We need to be able to examine the subject whether we’re good at it or not so setting stipulations about respect and talent etc are non-starters.
[17:20]These are what I would consider instances of rape culture.  Now, I’m not saying what happens around some rapes in other countries is not also bad, but I am saying these are not even close to anything that could properly be termed a rape culture.
[22:25] – A recent case highlighting this was the ‘Don’t be that guy’ and ‘Don’t be that girl’ controversy. GirlWritesWhat does a good interview about this with links etc here. It’s, apparently, fine to paint one entire gender as dangerous potential rapists, but point out the double standard and it makes national and international news.
[26:25]Examples of the ‘ends justifying the means‘  (note that this oft-quoted statistic would be on-par with war rape in the DRC, which is an extraordinary claim.
[28:15] – I did a few Twitter and G+ searches before and after the interview and while I don’t want to single anyone out by name for fear trolls will exploit is, it was quite clear that people weren’t willing to listen and even if they did sit through the interview weren’t listening. They take any quite of questioning or probing as an attack or evidence of their conclusions. It’s a kafkatrap.
[29:20] – If I use a certain air of derision when I say ‘allowed’ it is because it pisses me off enough that emotion leaks through my attempt to be reasonable and polite in this interview. I think people are intelligent enough to moderate their own media intake.
[30:15]The Handmaid’s Tale.
[32:00]Tumblr. For it to truly be said to be free expression it must be both expressed, and received. You can express anything you want mumbled into your pillow at night but this does not count as free speech.
[36:00] – The hypothetical excludes erotica, which I felt was a mistake and I want to address that a bit more than in the video. People can tell reality from fantasy and women’s erotica very often contains scenes of ‘dubious consent’. Many women (and men) do have rape/rough/forced sex fantasies and these people deserve to have access to material that tickles their fancy. It doesn’t mean they approve of rape in reality.  Note that this would include rape victims themselves who can find something cathartic or useful in exploring it as fantasy.
[36:10] – Past examples of people blaming/confusing reality and fantasy would include the Comics Code, D&D as Satanic, games as murder simulators etc. Hopefully people watching this would all agree that these claims are nonsense, but some would part company when it comes to sexual content. Why?
[37:42] – And this is why.
[37:50] – Nullius in Verba is the motto of The Royal Society and roughly means ‘Take nobody’s word for it’. “It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment”.
[38:30] – These definitional problems are consistent and need to be addressed for meaningful discussion to carry on. When we say ‘harm’ are we including hurt feelings or being offended? Should we avoid criticising or lampooning politicians because they might get offended? Or religious leaders? We need some kind of idea of what we actually mean by the word.
[40:20] – Shaming is a huge issue for men and women. I offer my thoughts from a male perspective here. I think Alyssa Royse’s TED talk about this in a broader context is required viewing.
[41:40] – Other than by dismantling shame I don’t really see a way around solving this problem. It is the job, however distasteful, of a defence lawyer in a rape trial to call things into question, to confuse the matter, to represent the victim as consenting in order to do the best for their own client. This is a feature of the justice system rather than a bug.
[41:50] – I would argue, if ever forced to concede a meaningful amount of harm from free expression, that this is acceptable given the gains it provides for us. Even in cases such as PTSD I would not accept that the acute distress of the few excuses censoring content from the many.
[45:30] – Anti-Harassment policies is a current issue and deserves more than footnotes. I’ll append that below.
[50:00] – The Amazing Meeting decline in female attendees:

“Last year we had 40% women attendees, something I’m really happy about. But this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed. (This is misinformation. Again, there’ve been no reports of such harassment the last two TAMs while I’ve been at the JREF, nor any reports filed with authorities at any other TAMs of which I’m aware.) We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in scepticism  actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.” – DJ

[51:40] – More people need to speak up, so please do.
[52:00] – I do think it’s worth noting that, for whatever reason it might be, gender parity in certain interests in unlikely. One does not see model train enthusiasts or quilters agonising over the fact that their hobbies are (virtually) mono-gendered.
[57:00] – I concede that it is possible that American conventions are different to such a degree that they are unrecognisable, I simply doubt it.
[61:00] – This is referencing Schroedinger’s Rapist which I’ve talked about before.  I would have liked to make the racial comparison more forcefully but was acutely aware of the scrutiny our discussion would be put under.
[65:00] – Contextual examination of young men as victims of violence Vs women as victims of rape.
[66:00] – Missed it at the time but Mark shifts the focus of the discussion in his example because the hypothetical man in the example is described as getting threatening. This is a demonstration of more likely harm and different to default interactions.
[70:00] – I also think trigger warnings have become a bit of a ‘Look at me! See how progressive I am!’ thing, which is also a shame.


“Censorship is where you cross the line from ‘I don’t like this’ to ‘This should not exist’.”

There seems to be a deep gap between what I – and others like me – consider censorship and what our opponents are willing to admit is censorship. I regard their PoV that censorship is limited to governmental action and that it does not apply to the things that they do. I understand why they would not want to be labelled as censors, just as non-denominational Christians seem to like to avoid the word ‘religion’ but in both cases, it is what it is.

Modern censorship is not taking place at the governmental level so much. It is taking place at the hands of the mob, through outrage and through commercial pressure. It’s no less effective and given choke points (such as payment services, hosting etc) this absolutely is de facto censorship as are actions like trying to get people fired etc.

There are legion examples of this kind of pressure beyond the attempts to censor me. I was part of the fight back against Paypal when they tried to restrict the use of money via Paypal to buy erotic fiction. The very existence of adult pay services – that charge premiums – is close to financial censorship.  Nebulous ‘community standards’ and weasel words like ‘sexualised’ are used to justify these actions.

Tumblr is merely the most recent case of this happening.

Anti-Harassment Policies

Being against anti-harassment policies does not mean one is pro harassment. There are existing tools and laws to deal with these problems and other than offering advice as ‘Here is what you ought to do if this happens’ anything more is problematic for a variety of reasons.

The problematic quote from the Geekfeminism suggested anti-harassment policy which seems to be the same one endorsed by The Ada Initiative and now by people in gaming is this:

“Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference [without a refund] at the discretion of the conference organizers.”

This goes well beyond trying to stop harassment and starts to impede on expression, conversation, jokes amongst friends (Donglegate). It would mean an end to anything risque, the discussion of any adult topics (such as the ones in this interview). It is not acceptable and organisations and events should think twice before agreeing to adopt it.

The potential for abuse is not just potential, it is actual.

Violet Blue Vs Ada

Violet Blue Vs Ada 2

Another example off the top of my head would be the persecution of Jessica Nigri at Pax (NB she’s a cosplayer, not a booth babe)


In the atheist/sceptic community some feminists have been trying to argue that ‘harassment policies’ should even apply beyond the bounds of the conference itself into private spaces and off-site spaces. Essentially wanting to control all human interactions even around the event rather than in it.

Thunderf00t covers, quite well, the use of these tactics and the damage they’ve done in atheism/skepticism

Video 1

Video 2 (Probably the most relevant)

Video 3

Having seen this happen in scepticism I do not want this to take place in gaming or SF&F.

Nerdy groups are a soft touch, they need to be less so.

Hangout Interview: Crossing the Line

I’ll be doing an interview about various controversial issues in gaming – and more general geek society – this coming Saturday from 3pm EST.

It’ll be recorded but since it’s a hangout it’ll also be live.

Hopefully we can have a respectful discussion without the witch-hunting that normally goes on in these discussions.


+Mark Diaz Truman will interview  +James Desborough  , controversial veteran of RPG publishing, about taboos and difficult subjects in gaming. The conversation will focus on the role of free speech and community standards in publishing, specifically how sensitive material should or should not be handled differently from ordinary material.

James ‘Grim’ Desborough has over a hundred writing credits to his name including Hentacle [ ], Agents of Swing [ ], Blood [ ]  and The Munchkin’s Guide to Power Gaming [ ]. An Origin Award winner, his work has been praised for its creativity and humour as well as being condemned for its sexual content and depiction of women.  A fierce advocate for free speech, Desborough has been banned for life from RPG.Net.  

In June 2012, Desborough published a blog post called In Defence of Rape [ ], a response to the debate [ ] over reports about a rape scene in the new Lara Croft Tomb Raider [ Tomb Raider: Lara Croft’s First Kill! ( Rape Scene) ] game, part of a larger debate about sexism in games and the gaming industry. The inflammatory title, which Desborough himself describes as “link bait”, drew negative attention across communities. His active participation in the resulting discussion helped fuel arguments on forums, social media, and blogs, as well as online protests. This instance in the larger discussion on sexism in modern storytelling gained particular notoriety due to the questionable actions of some of those involved; Desborough was found to be dismissive, offensive, or even threatening by some readers. In turn, some commentators accused Desborough of harboring desires to see women raped, and some activists called for publishers and stores to drop his work.

A year on from these events, Indie+ has invited James Desborough to part take in an interview on handling difficult subjects. As someone who has been accused of stepping over the line of acceptable behaviour and experienced first hand the social ramifications of controversy, he has a unique perspective on the subject. At the same time Indie+ recognises the need for care when discussing issues that may be disturbing to some people; the interview will be conducted by Mark Diaz Truman, a writer, game publisher and a supporter of inclusive gaming. The aim of the interview is for a thoughtful and balanced discussion about sensitive subjects and their role in games.   

Over the last 15 months, Indie+ has run a series of events, many of which have touched on subjects of race and gender. We are proud of our commitment to supporting diversity in gaming. We recognise our responsibilities and will make time available during future events for any persons wishing to respond to the subjects raised in the interview. 

Let’s hear it for the boys…

May Glob bless Sarah Pinborough.

Sarah Pinborough

There have been some truly terrible stories emerging over the past few weeks about some male behaviour at various conventions in the genre. For anyone -especially women – reading them who doesn’t go to cons, or is considering going to cons, they must think, God, all these men are awful. I’m never attending anything like that. And that would be a shame, because there are some wonderful gents working in the field. Maybe it’s time to share a story or two about them, and big up the brilliant boys a little?

Personally, I can easily think of a few occasions when gents have come to my rescue at cons. At world Fantasy one year I was in a room party talking the the master of splatterpunk John Skipp. We sat down on the bed, and as I did so (this could only happen to me), the strap of my summer…

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Machinations of the Space Princess: Printing issues!

Please note, these issues do not appear to have affected the colour copies. This is limited to the B&W copies.

There seem to be some fairly serious print defects in the B&W copies of MotSP that have already shipped, whether ordered or shipped out by me for fulfillment.

If your cover is ‘bobbled’, please take the issue up with Lulu directly. It is, however, unlikely that you’ll get a replacement in this instance as this is a fairly typical issue, even on some full print runs of books.

If your interior is misprinted please get in touch with me directly as the problem SHOULD now be fixed and I will send you a replacement copy as soon as possible.

The photos below show the sort of problem you should be looking for.

I have no way of knowing how many copies are screwed up in this way. It appears to be an esoteric problem between PDF output standards, printer processing and the final printing process, but it SHOULD be fine now.

You can contact me at:

grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk

Please include a photo of the print problem and your address.

photo 3As you can see at the bottom of the page, the problem is over-printing and that the borders have not been properly reversed left to right. Check through your copy for this issue which has occurred in at least two printings.

I apologise unreservedly, this kind of print screw-up is not acceptable.