You can grab yours here, or via your localised Lulu store.


PROJECT is a role-playing game about heroic guardians of reality. After a terrible, supernatural disaster the world has been rent asunder and strange things have begun to bleed in all around the edges. Humanity has recovered to an extent and continues to fight these beings and forces from beyond known as ‘Entities’.

The group PROJECT is at the forefront of humanity’s defence, using the strange technologies and abilities of the Entities against them and reasserting reality one bloody fight at a time. In the game you will take the role of one of the heroic agents of PROJECT, modified through barely understood technology and thrown against the strange and deadly beings and events that press in on the Earth from its neighbouring dimensions and parallels.

In the process you may begin to discover things that you wish you didn’t know and that the battle for reality is not as black and white as you have been indoctrinated to think.

Popular Ludology No.0 – Call for Submissions


Popular Ludology is now accepting submissions of papers for an issue ‘zero’ to test the waters and ensure that there’s sufficient interest to continue with the effort. Provided you have direct experience of game design and publication in a commercial sense (even Indie) or have academic/scientific qualifications you can submit a  paper (see below).

The theme for the first issue is: “Defining & classifying games,” though you do not have to submit on that theme, it would be preferred.

More information is below.

Submit to grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk with [PopLud] in the title.

Submissions for issue zero are open until JULY 31st 2015

Popular Ludology

POPULAR: [ATTRIBUTIVE] (Of cultural activities or products) intended for or suited to the taste, understanding, or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals.

LUDOLOGY: The study of games and gaming, especially video games.

Popular Ludology is an attempt to set up a new Ludology/Game Studies journal with a focus on positive, practical measures to understand and improve games, as games. Existing Ludology/Game Studies groups and journals tend to fixate on literary and critical theory and, as such, provide little or nothing of use from a game design or scientific perspective.

We want Popular Ludology to be an accessible, readable, useful, genuinely academic, scientific and practical resource for game developers and engaged game fans to understand and improve the medium as an effective tool for enjoyment and storytelling.


You should fit into one of two categories to submit a paper.

  • Category 1: You have practical experience of game design and publication and have successfully, commercially, published at least one game.
  • Category 2: You are an academic or scientist with a degree or higher educational attainment.

Popular Ludology is not limited to video games. If you have research or practical experience relating to tabletop RPGs, board games, card games or other such recreational games of similar ilk (excluding gambling) you are welcome, indeed encouraged, to submit.

You should be able to provide evidence of your qualifications or publication history. If you wish to submit anonymously you must satisfy the editor of your bona-fides.

Papers may be of any length but try to keep the total file-size reasonably low (<5mb).

Popular Ludology strives for openness and readability. Try – so much as is possible – to avoid jargon and keep to an accessible reading level (Grade 12, High School).

Papers should include a short 1-2 paragraph summary at the beginning.

Papers should be submitted in RTF format if at all possible, otherwise DOC (but not DOCX) is also acceptable. This requirement is to ensure more transferable formatting.

Papers should be submitted in point-size 10 font, with titles of sections and subsections in bold descending in point-size (20/14/12/10) as necessary to show sections and subsections.

Tables, images and other such visual data should be submitted as attachments separately to the document,rather than embedded in the document.

Papers should fit into one of two categories.

  • Category 1: The relation of direct practical experience (these are the papers to be accepted from game designers). These will not be held to such a high standard but their worth is in the transfer of experience. Claims and ideas presented in these are to be considered for future examination.
  • Category 2: Academic and scientific studies or the relating of such information to the audience. Include proper citations, avoid speculation and bias. Avoid foregone conclusions. Stick to the facts and the relation of those facts or relay how you discovered facts. Minimise opinion. Original research is greatly encouraged.

The Process

When you submit a paper it will be examined by the editorial staff and those who have previously submitted and had their papers accepted. It will be accepted or rejected on the basis of a simple majority (with 50% being a pass). Either way you should be informed.

If your paper is accepted you will be invited to the Popular Ludology email group. You do not have to accept and participation is not mandatory, but it will allow you to participate further as the journal and effort – hopefully – expand.

A month will be given for papers to be accepted.

At the end of that period the accepted papers will be collated and published in an ‘alpha draft’.

This alpha draft will be made available publicly to anyone and everyone for open review, criticism and objection.

You should monitor this feedback and, as you feel may be necessary, make changes, clarifications and extensions to your paper over the following month.

The final version of the journal (with any amendments, additions, retractions etc from review) will then be published. Papers may only be forcibly withdrawn against your will if 75% or more of the editorial and previously published authors agree in a vote.

Voting procedures will be made public in the journal itself.


Popular Ludology’s founding principles can be summed up thusly:

  • Hard science, hard data.
  • Usefulness.
  • Openness.
  • Experience.

The existing procedures have already come under some fire, and the use of Ludology as a term has been both questioned and supported. In order to get the project going I feel it necessary to be somewhat dictatorial, but I should also explain why I have made the decisions that I have.

Firstly, yes, this publication is motivated by Gamergate and in response to groups such as DiGRA. Throughout the year-or-so that Gamergate has been ongoing I and many other gaming fans, publishers, developers academics and scientists have been shocked and appalled to discover the poor state of academia and the existing structures when it comes to studying games. Many of us have lamented, nearly from the start, that a better alternative is needed. One wing of that effort looks like it will focus around League for Gamers becoming more supportive of academic and scientific efforts and it is my hope that PopLud will become another wing of that. However, I hope it will become more than simply a response to the problems we see and the aim is to create a genuinely useful resource, which is more than simply a reaction. People who do publish in or for what we consider to be ‘bad’ journals and organisations are welcome to submit, their papers will be considered on merit.

Secondly, the decision was made to allow papers from non-academics for several reasons. I have no academic qualifications myself, nor have many of the critics of the existing structures, but our criticisms and reviews have highlighted many serious problems and deserve to be taken seriously. This has underlined existing issues with ‘echo chambers’ in these sorts of fields of study (and the fields from which participation sometimes comes) and has, in my opinion, demonstrated a need to break that circle. Designers have useful, experience which people can relate to. They may not be able to tell you precisely why something has worked, but they can show it has worked and relate things like marketing data and studies from their experience which is useful both to researchers and other designers.

The decision to go with an open process relates to this. We want the journal to be accessible and useful and to avoid the aforementioned echo chamber. It is worth entering a note of caution however, in that this open process superficially resembles that of the ADA journal and the ‘fembot collective’, and has singularly failed to solve those issues in that case. Given that ADA has an explicit bias in its research goals and philosophy and we do not, hopefully this approach can work in this instance. Researchers need to understand their audience and their subject, something which the span of Gamergate has shown, in abundance, that they currently do not.

The decision to stick with ‘Ludology’ was not one which I personally supported. In my opinion the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ have become tainted. They do not, primarily, seem to be about games at all, rather a great deal of effort seems to be put into lit/crit theory, gender studies and opinion pieces about representation, race etc with little or no statistical or scientific backing. The consensus amongst interested parties appears to be that the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ are worth fighting for and that the more genuine and useful research attached to the name the better. So I bow to that consensus.

The Future

If this enterprise is successful, I intend to bow out of the editorship by Issue 3 and to hand off to a new, elected editor from applicants, voted for by those who have participated. Editorship terms should, in my opinion, run for a year or so or be removed by a 75% vote of no confidence. New editors should be approved by a 50% or more vote (from those participating). Again, all in my opinion but these are things that remain to be thrashed out.

If you have any questions, queries or worries please address them to the comments, or to the email address provided earlier.

#Gamergate Building a DiGRA Alternative, Part 2

2613913-doktor_sleepless_m__001_000aHad some useful and interesting feedback from people, so let’s lay down some slightly more concrete proposals and begin to prepare to make this ‘a thing’.

It has been made pretty clear to me from a bunch of people that they’re unwilling to cede the ground of coming up with a new term other than ludology/game studies and that they would rather see the term being somewhat reclaimed away from crit/lit theory.

So, OK, what the hell, why not 🙂

First a reiteration…


  1. Preserving and communicating practical game-maker experience and examining it.
  2. Providing objective, scientific, academic, statistical and experiential insight into aspects of game design and experience.
  3. Providing an alternative to the current ludology/game studies paradigm of literary/critical theory fixed intently on practical and useful analysis, study, information and investigation.
  4. To foster a practical and pragmatic space for the exchange of useful and confirmed information for game design.

Speaking for myself, I just want to get this started and then step back. It’s my hope that groups like League for Gamers, and various websites, may take on, store, present and replicate what’s produced and that it can eventually become a respectable source of useful information for developers, academics and interested consumers.

I recognise that I don’t have the academic chops to make this into a respected enterprise, but hopefully do have enough ‘oomph’ to get it going. My intention will be to hand off to someone else in the future.

This will also have to break free of Gamergate, but GG has provided the impetus and illustrated the need.

Base Principles

The journal needs to be established on some principles to ensure that it doesn’t easily fall into the same problems as other outlets have. We don’t want it to be an ivory tower, an echo chamber or a positive feedback loop. We also want to make the contents as accessible as possible and as supportive as possible.

As such I think principles of openness would need to be core.

  • Open source.
  • Open to commentary and engagement.
  • Open processes.

All, at least, so much as is practically possible anyway.

The most important principle is that it should be fixed upon providing practical, useful information and insight, applicable to creating games. Better games. Videogames, tabletop games, LARP games, card games and more.

The Process

So here’s how I envision things working.

  1. Day 1: The editor puts out a call for submissions on a selected topic.
  2. Submissions are accepted relating to that topic (or rebutting on previous articles), either from developers/designers speaking from experience (confirmed commercial release) or academics with appropriate qualifications (this being more to do with the process and discipline than specifics).
  3. Submissions are subjected to basic scrutiny (Is it well written? Do citations lead anywhere? Does it pass the smell test? Does the author qualify?)
  4. Day 30: The selected articles are consolidated in a relatively easily transferable format (RTF?) by the editor and put out publicly wherever it can be – the personal outlets of contributors to start with.
  5. The material is then open for review, correction and challenge – openly, by anyone and this feedback is discussed and any necessary corrections have the opportunity to be made over the following month.
  6. Day 60: With corrections and changes made the journal proper is ‘published’, in much the same way as at day 30, but in a finalised and corrected form to be archived and kept.

Feedback has been incredibly useful so far, so let me know what you think. I realise much of this is unconventional, but I think that’s part of the point. The way things are being done isn’t working.

Also, what about Popular Ludology or Practical Ludology as a title?

#Gamergate Building a DiGRA Alternative

158736-174429-doktor-sleeplessAs we all know, groups like DiGRA are a problem.

These are pseudo-academic platforms presenting opinion as fact with no rigour, no attempt at objectivity and seemingly much more about pushing particular agendas rather than determining what is true/correct, or what is useful to people who make games or want to make games.

We desperately need an alternative.

Building an alternative will not be an easy matter and so I think it is best to start relatively small and idealistic, and then to let things change over time as needed, allowing such an attempt to adapt and fulfil its role – provided that it doesn’t lose sight of its core principles.

As I say, this is a daunting task but one I think that can be accomplished. It just needs a little push and I intend to give it the good ol’ college try.

In essence we’re creating a new field here, as ‘ludology’ is dominated by extremely soft humanities and the aforementioned activist pseudo-academia. This would be something more akin to hard science or engineering, dedicated to providing practical information and experience and sharing it amongst game creators with the stated aim of improving games and game creation as a whole.

‘Ludics’ maybe? I don’t know… ludogineering? It’s something that needs to be distinct from ‘ludology’ or ‘game studies’ which are grounded in literary criticism and critical theory and, so, don’t provide anything of actual use.

So the goals of the group/discipline would be.

  1. Preserving and enumerating game-maker experience.
  2. Providing genuine, objective, scientific, academic and experiential insight into aspects of game design and experience.
  3. Providing a genuine academic alternative to DiGRA and their ilk, rooted in harder science and practical purpose.

Contributors must have:

  1. Relevant practical experience in the field of fames (a game maker with a commercial release, a board/card or RPG designer).
  2. A high level of educational attainment in a relevant field (a degree in hard science, statistics, anthropology, sociology, psychology)
  3. Their entries must at least strive for objectivity – creator anecdote being something of an exception, if clearly stated.

I would also suggest that all material produced as this enterprise gets under way be considered open source, perhaps under a creative commons license allowing people to reformat, freely distribute or even to sell independently or as part of larger treatise etc in order to help support projects and help to make the work worthwhile for people who contribute.

I would hope to get groups like League For Gamers on board and to get the support of independent gaming news sites to reproduce the entries in some form (another reason for going open source).

As a way of starting this off from humble beginnings I would suggest that it begin with an open call for ~1,000-1,500 word essays/notes on a topic, every couple of weeks or every month, just to see if there’s the interest or that the interest can be built up. This would, then, form a short ‘journal’ of sorts, on a particular topic or aspect of game design that would-be game designers or existing game designers could tap into or look at.

Now, obviously this is starting from #Gamergate, since the impetus to provide an alternative to DiGRA that is more genuinely game and design based comes from there, but it would not remain (or even really start out as) a #Gamergate thing. Much like Based Gamer, Deepfreeze and the various indie games sites that have sprung up, it would carve its own path to become something more long lived.

It should also seek to move into testing and confirming (or debunking) its own hypotheses, conducting surveys and eventually providing harder data.

  1. Would you be interested in reading such a ‘journal’?
  2. Would you be interested in contributing to such a ‘journal’?
  3. Would you like to see a more practical, pragmatic and useful field of game study?
  4. Do you have a better idea for a name than ‘Ludics’? (It mixes Greek and Latin, so is ‘bad’, perhaps ‘paichnidics’ instead? – from the Greek ‘paichnídi’, meaning toy, game or trick, and already used as part of the Greek for ‘video game console’)*.
  5. Would you be interested in contributing to a first attempt, perhaps on the topic ‘What is a game and what is the appeal of games?’

Let me know.

I can be contacted via the comments here, on Twitter (@grimachu) or via email – grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk.

*I can’t for the life of me work out how to spell this phonetically in English, or pronounce it from these letters. Peuch-a-nidyics is the closest I can get).

#RPG – Post Apocalypse World – Salvage

Salvage-Crew-Removes-USS-Guardians-Bow-Section*Smashes Apocalypse World to pieces*
*Rummages through the bits*

OK, how can we retool this into a halfway enjoyable, workable game…

OK, we need more scale to finesse things, so let’s double the scale from 2d6+bonuses to 2D12+bonuses.

You could whack together any stats you wanted, but for sake of argument let’s go with…

  • Will
  • Body
  • Sexy
  • Mind
  • Soul

In AW stats are normally -2 to +2 normally, -3 to +3 later than character generation. This would normally be doubled here, but here’s an opportunity to do better.

Let’s bring in a more traditional Stat+Skill organisation structure, since Moves suck balls, so we can have stats and then skills, which combined give you your totals. So Stats run -6 to +2 and skills run from zero to +2, with 3 possible later on and certain exceptions.

Stats start at zero and can be bought up to +2 at character creation with the four points you have to spend.

Skills start not being had at all, but again you have four points and spending a single point gives you a skill at +0.

You can drop stats for extra points to spend on stats and skills, but no lower than -6 and buy no higher than +2 at character creation.

You have six health, at zero you’ve snuffed it. You can choose to take a permanent penalty of -1 to a stat in place of damage at any point.

You get two spare points you can chuck into anything, like extra health, extra in a stat or skill (still within limits) or for weird abilities not unlike FATE stunts.

You can develop relationships with players and NPCs or communities in games from -6 to +2(3)

Every session gives you 1xp which can be used to buy stuff by paying 1 or its existing, current level, whichever is highest. That could also limit the maximum amount that helping people is good for.

Doing stuff?

Roll 2d12+Stat+Skill

1-2. Fail and six bad things happen.
3-4. Fail and five bad things happen.
5-6. Fail and four bad things happen.
7-8. Fail and three bad things happen.
9-10. Fail and two bad things happen.
11-12. Fail and a bad thing happens.
13-14. Succeed, BUT a bad thing happens too.
15-16. Succeed and a good thing happens.
17-18. Succeed and a two good thing happens.
19-20. Succeed and three good things happen.
21-22. Succeed and four good things happen.
23-24. Succed and five good things happen.

Every two more higher or lower cause more bad or good things to happen. Those things can be more damage, knocking a weapon flying and so on. Maybe you could also spend multiple good things to do special effects (I did something like this in Kagai! where you spend your successes to do damage).

Armour reduces damage 1-6.

Weapons do base damage, modified 1, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 and maybe descriptions of special stuff they can do.

Baddies have a difficulty rank from +6 (like an asthmatic goblin) to -6 (an imperial dragon), health points, armour, some tactics they can use and some ‘bad things’ that they can do.

You get the idea.

So a character might look like…

Sir Fighty McFighterson – Knight of the Realm

Will +1
Body +2
Sexy +1
Mind -2
Soul -2

Stabbing Monsters +2
Riding Horsies +2
Bellowing Scarily +1

Two handed sword for jobbing monsters 1d10 damage, bleeding.
Plate Armour: 6
Shield: +1 Armour (7).

Sir Fighty is clobbering an orc, an Orc warrior is difficulty -2 and carries a dirty cleaver, that does 1d6 damage. The Orc can also take 6 damage.

The orc lunges for him with its dirty sword and Sir Fighty decides the best response is to clobber the motherfucker.

He rolls 2d12+Body+Stabbing Monsters for a total of 17, -2 for the orc challenge level for a total of 15. The sword does 6 damage +1 for a ‘good things’ making 7. That’s a dead orc.

A new challenger appears, another nasty orc. In closing with this wee bastard Sir Fighty ballses it up only rolling a total of 6, which with the -2 is reduced to 4. That’s a fail and five bad things. The orc rolls 4 for damage, which is all soaked up by the armour, spending all the extra ‘bad things’ brings that up high enough to do two damage. Huzzah for orcs!

You get the point, there’d be a lot more to do but stripped bare and reconstructed there’s a more workable (if still somewhat clumsy) RPG in there.

Dungeon World does it better, but doesn’t solve all the issues.

If you’re after a Post Apocalyptic game of worth, Barbarians of the Aftermath is good, retooling Cyberpunk 2020 with the Maximum Metal book works well too.

#RPG – What IS the Appeal of Apocalypse World?!?

8850393Trying, again, to ‘get’ Apocalypse World

I’ve tried, several times, to get my head around Apocalypse World. I’ve appealed for help, listened to Podcasts and Actual Play and read the book over and again and I still can’t see how there’s really a playable game in here – worthy of the name – or what the bloody hell the appeal is to people.

This is immensely frustrating as I generally have an intuitive grasp of games systems and their appeal, even if I don’t personally like them very much.

So why not share my experience and frustration to see if that helps people help me…

The Basics

TB1. The first, major, problem with the game is that it drips pretension to such a degree that it is almost painful to read.

TB2. The archetypes and friendship-oriented play seems singularly ill-suited to the trops of a post-apocalyptic setting (with the exception of zombie horror, which is often ‘social horror’ in a similar way to ‘social science fiction’. Setting and system are not in harmony.

TB3. Bleh, psychics. See 2.

TB4. ‘Master of Ceremonies’, see 1. It’s kind of a tradition to rename Games Master at this point, but particularly bad choices still grate. At least it’s not ‘Hollyhock God’. Terminology in general is a problem this and a lot of other pretentious games have. It renders their communication more opaque than is strictly necessary.

TB5. Moves. I loathe and detest the whole idea of ‘Moves’ as they are presented in this game. For me the great, grand appeal of the RPG over other forms of interactive entertainment is the sheer freedom that they have, in spite of the limitations of rules. Apocalypse World, however, seems to hard-code into itself an extremely limited set of interactions that herd you into thinking in terms of ‘moves’ rather than ‘what is my character doing?’ Weirdly, the same problem 4e D&D had.

TB6. Strictly in terms of probability you’re going to hit a ‘7’ on 2D6 21/36 times (nearly 60% of the time). This seems a bit too easy for what’s supposed to be a dangerous setting and 10+ is a ‘strong hit’ – or a good result. Modifiers don’t seem to, normally, extend to more than +/- 3.

TB7. Character creation is normally pretty sacrosanct. Allowing another player to interfere with your character creation by ‘highlighting’ a statistic for you seems to me to horribly dismantle perhaps the most important aspect of player agency.

TB8. Stat terminology pretension rears its ugly head again and while Hx seems like a reasonable concept it makes less sense later on.

TB9. Gear isn’t well described here and the apparent rules raise some red flag but it’ll have to be understood ater.

TB9. Harm and healing seems needlessly complex and counter-intuitive. Debility seems to make sense though, not dissimilar to FATE’s consequences. Again, not well described here which makes it hard to know what to really think at this point.

TB10. Character advancement based on Hx seems to be just begging to be abused and could either turn every game into an orgy or a backstab-a-palooza.

The Characters

TC1. These characters just kill any desire I might otherwise have to play. The pretentious descriptions suck the potential joy out of them.

TC2. For a game with a largely non-explicit background, the explicit use of psychic weirdness relating to abilities not necessarily rooted in psychic power is an annoyance.

TC3. All these interwoven relationships are really going to fuck a game up if one of the players can’t make it from session to session and means that pregenerated scenarios for conventions are going to be in trouble if you can’t fill your table completely.

TC4. While you can get moves from other Playbooks with advancement, some moves on characters seem like things anyone should be able to get anyway and, again, the specificity of the moves is inherently limiting and anti-RP, a huge turn off.

TC5. Pre-set statistic grabs also limit your options and do not appear balanced, at all. EG: On The Battlebabe why would you take the second entry (total +3) as opposed to any other stat-grabs, which equal +4?

TC6. With gangs etc at your disposal from the get go, there’s much less impetus (or reason) to build, less goals for a character to have and less reason to take risks or do anything yourself.

TC7. Carrying +1 forward to your next roll often won’t make any sense. The Gunlugger, for example, will get a +1 on their next roll after having sex, but how will having had sex necessarily relate to what they’re doing?

TC8. Hardholder has all the problems that a Chopper has, but with the added problem of not being able to move, severely limiting game possibilities.

TC9. The other huge problem with ‘set moves’ is that they’re a bit of a throwback to very old RPGs where different things you did might have entirely different rules, whereas today (thankfully) most games operate under a unified rules-set. With every move acting differently, reference is demanded. I guess this is why there’s ‘playbooks’ but it seems like a sticking plaster over a basic design fault. Specialist booklets would normally be bonus material, not a necessity.

TC10. Helping or hindering people is based on your relationship with them, not your applicable statistic to the task at hand. So if you were trying to move a heavy object you’d be better off asking your girlfriend than Hunk Meatloaf the bodybuilder.

TC11. Rolling Harm in addition to taking it is going to slow down play. There’s also huge potential for abuse by Games Masters (sorry, MCs) and Players alike – repeatedly slapping the weapon out of someone’s hand on your attacks for example, will not be hard to do at all.

TC12. These Battle Moves aren’t explained at all. There’s a Battle Countdown but it doesn’t explain how it counts down, why it’s limited or what it does. It’s just thrown in there.

TC13. Why is ‘doing stuff under fire’ based on Cool and not based on what you’re actually doing? Given the layered rolling etc elsewhere why not roll Cool to see if you do better or worse at what you are really doing under fire?

Character Creation

Didn’t we cover this already? No, it’s more like the unspoken stuff from most games and a recap.

The Master of Ceremonies

MC1. So no predetermined plot. Fine. This is my favourite way to play but the game does not seem tailored to help the ‘MC’ with their improvisation, or indeed anyone else, another flaw with very set character types and set ‘moves’.

MC2. It’s useful to compare Apocalypse World with Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Where LotFP takes a ‘this is how I do it!’ tone, AW seems to take a more ‘this is how it IS done’ tone, which is offputting.

MC3. This mostly seems to be fairly generic advice, which can be useful, but again it ends up dripping pretension which just makes me want to be contrarian.

The First Session

TFS1. This was always the problem with FATE as originally written too, spending all that time on a formalised getting-to-know-the-characters and linking their backgrounds made it hard as fuck to throw together a game on short notice and was actually less meaningful than building relationships in play or in a free for all, or even simply ignoring the problem altogether.

TFS2. The worksheets seem like a good idea in theory, but as presented here it just seems like a confusing mess.

Prep for Play: Fronts

FR1. Fronts seem – like much in this game – needlessly complicated and hard-set where they don’t need to be and vague where they don’t need to be either. When should the clocks count down and why use clock terminology when the ‘clock’ only has six segments anyway and would be better and more conveniently represented by a D6?

FR2. Stakes aren’t well enough explained, or how they come into play.

FR3. With regards to opposition, so far at least everything seems to depend on the players FAILING. Not on an enemy succeeding. This would seem to rather rob NPCs and enemies of agency or, indeed, having a point. This isn’t like in Numenera, ‘baddies’ seem to be genuinely pointless. This may clear up in a bit.

Rules of Play: Moves Snowball

RoP1. Yeah, even the example of play shows the problem with the set moves.

RoP2. MC ‘moves’ don’t even seem to be moves and have, again, been unnecessarily formalised. This is stuff that emerges naturally through play.

Rules of Play: Harm & Healing

HaH1. Sources of harm don’t appear to include enemy action (as a direct attack) just screwing up, still.

HaH2. Cinematic harm doesn’t seem to fit with the implicit setting.

HaH3. How does harm against/from enemies work? Seemingly by fiat, or by forcing the player to make a roll – and fail. Sucking the tension out of the game. NPC harm is also a special case – again – further complicating matters.

HaH4. Gang damage seems like it wouldn’t work too well in practice either. A PC group could blast away at an enemy army forever and never do it any harm – at least by the rules.


Imp1: Still not convinced the advancement system isn’t ripe for orgy-led/Hx tinkering abuse and handing over control of your highlighted stats to others robs the player of choice in character creation.

Imp2: Multiple characters? Because it leeches away player investment in characters and is ripe for abuse, again.

Basic Moves

BM1: ‘Bargains’ are a genuinely interesting ideas for a mechanic (yes, but…) but aren’t particularly well described or covered.

BM2: The battle clock is better described here, but still seems unnecessary and something that would emerge during play anyway.

Character Moves

CM1: Why are we filling a book with repetition?

The Character’s Crap

TCC1: Abstracting money is old hat and has always been super annoying. Abstracting barter makes more sense, after a fashion, but does harm immersion.

TCC2: As with most low-fi game systems the absence of distinction between types of gear and weapons makes them far less important, which can harm story and character specialisation due to the meaninglessness of the choices. The descriptive words here also seem somewhat useless or unnecessary to point out. This is especially an issue with the vehicles.

Advanced Fuckery

AF1: So it takes the advanced and optional rules before making things easier or harder is even an option.


This was probably the most useful thing in ‘grokking’ the game (even though its for Dungeon World), but I still l don’t really ‘get it’. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3269630/dwdotcom/eon-guide/Dungeon%20World%20Guide%20pdf%20version%201.2.pdf

AW is complex where it should be simple and simple where it should be complex. The ‘moves’ make it relatively inflexible and each move restricts a player unduly by their playbook and in their actions – as well as being further disempowered by several, deliberate system choices as written.

Relying on players fucking up, rather than enemies doing well is done better, IMO, in Numenera and the rules here as a whole seem manifestly unsuited to the implicit setting, as well as being hugely open for abuse.

I just cannot understand the appeal here. The disjointed mechanics and design choices seem antithetical to roleplay, to immersion, to the implicit setting, to making reactive, in-character choices and on top of that are ripe for abuse.

Character customisation and scaling is particularly pathetic, you only have statistics that range (normally) from -2 to +2.

If I were to use this for anything I’d have to tear it down to virtually nothing, boost the scale (2d12 would at least take the scale to 10, -4 to +4), get shot of the moves and cut out all the needless hectoring and pretension.

I’m not saying any of this to be mean. I have issues with other systems whose popularity escapes me as well (Savage Worlds for example) but AW appears to be a particularly egregious example where I can’t see anything that it actually does well enough to justify the love some people seem to have for it. There’s pretty much nothing a more conventional RPG doesn’t do better.

The one good thing I can take from it is only the nature of dice results.

1. No, and something bad happens.

2. Yes, but something somewhat bad happens.

3. Yes and something good happens.

This also might work even better if it were further expanded.

The appeal of this game as a means of doing anything remains a total mystery. What the hell does it do well? Why did it get all those awards?

#Review – The Peripheral

20821159I like William Gibson and I like – or adore – the overwhelming majority of the things he has written. He’s generally a switched on guy, a good egg and – despite having made the poor life choice to re-tweet that appalling bigot and sexist Chris Kluwe too often (EG: ever) – is an interesting person to follow on Twitter, where he’s a curator of the interesting and muse-inspiring.

It pains me, then, to say that his latest work The Peripheral is fucking awful.

It’s full of great ideas such as a post-apocalyptic New World Re-order, the future of drone technology, poverty-tech, the fate of techno-veterans, quantum communication with alternate timelines and so on, but in terms of telling an actual story?

It fails, utterly.

The Peripheral might as well be a ‘literary’ novel in that, while lots of ‘stuff’ happens, nothing really gets resolved in any sort of satisfying way and then it abruptly…


I haven’t been left this dissatisfied since receiving half a blowjob.

This is a damn shame since, on paper, there’s good and interesting plots to get your teeth into. Illuminati-like financial conspiracies from another universe, a murder mystery, the threat of a Presidential assassination and the question of whether there’s meaning or worth in providing altruism to a universe you know the approximate future of, even though there’s really nothing in it for you.

None of these are handled with any emotional or structural satisfaction and it all just sort of tails off into a shapeless mush.

Avoid and wait for his next one.

Style: 3/5
Substance: 1/5
Overall: 2/5


You can get the PDF HERE

An expansion booklet and specialist character sheet for the Golem character type.

This booklet contains information on how Golem candidates are chosen, the process by which they become Golems and expands on their modifications, weapons, equipment, advantages and disadvantages.

It also contains general information on the world of PROJECT, focussing on the social dynamics of rich versus poor in a world of magic, psionics and corporate superheroics.

#RPG Kingsman for Agents of SWING

fc,220x200,whiteSooner or later a new version of SWING more compatible with the new version of FATE will be Kickstarted. In the meantime…

Kingsman for Agents of SWING

This is based on the film, rather than the related comic, as honestly this is one instance in which the film really is better.

Kingsman’s concept operates very much like that of SWING in the game, a third-party, private espionage organisation trying to stop great powers from kicking off a new world war and also operating against massive threats, outside the laws and treaties that – theoretically – bind other espionage agencies.

Their sheer access to money (old and new), contacts and the ‘Old Boy Network’ of the British establishment and banking system gives them truly global reach which, when combined with their massively high standards and cut-throat training regimen makes them a small, but formidable force.

Failed candidates for ‘Knight’ positions seem to fill other roles within Kingsman’s organisation such as guards and support staff on a global basis (satellite offices are mentioned). So there is scope for playing characters who are not ‘Knights’. Merlin appears to be the head of the tech/support staff and training program but there’s certainly scope for others and given the success of Roxy (albeit in a minority) there’s no reason to think there aren’t plenty of women at work in the organisation – no matter what their codename.

Possible Arthurian Codenames

  • Arthur (Head of Kingsman)
  • Guinevere (Support – Medical?)
  • Merlin (Head of Support – Technical)
  • Morgana (Support – Personnel?)
  • Taliesin (Support – broker/deal maker?)


  • Agolvale (Knight)
  • Agravain (Knight)
  • Bagdemagus (Knight)
  • Bedivere (Knight)
  • Bercilak (Knight)
  • Bors (Knight)
  • Bruenor (Knight)
  • Cador (Knight)
  • Calogrenant (Knight)
  • Caradoc (Knight)
  • Claudin (Knight)
  • Dagonet (Knight)
  • Daniel (Knight)
  • Dinadan (Knight)
  • Ector (Knight)
  • Elyan (Knight)
  • Erec (Knight)
  • Esclabor (Knight)
  • Feirefiz (Knight)
  • Gaheris (Knight)
  • Galahad (Knight)
  • Galehault (Knight)
  • Galeschin (Knight)
  • Gareth (Knight)
  • Gawain (Knight)
  • Geraint (Knight)
  • Gingalain (Knight)
  • Griflet (Knight)
  • Hector (Knight)
  • Hoel (Knight)
  • Kay (Knight)
  • Lamorak (Knight)
  • Lancelot (Knight)
  • Lanval (Knight)
  • Leodegrance (Knight)
  • Lincoln (Knight)
  • Lionel (Knight)
  • Lucan (Knight)
  • Maleagant (Knight)
  • Mordred (Knight)
  • Morholt (Knight)
  • Morien (Knight)
  • Owain (Knight)
  • Palamedes (Knight)
  • Pelleas (Knight)
  • Pellinore (Knight)
  • Percival (Knight)
  • Safir (Knight)
  • Sagramore (Knight)
  • Segwarides (Knight)
  • Tor (Knight)
  • Tristan (Knight)
  • Urien (Knight)


Unlike SWING characters, Kingsmen are cut from similar cloth and have a similar degree of competence.

Kingsman characters must spend at least the following points in the following Skills.

Athletics 1
Drive 1
Fists 2
Guns 2
Endurance 1
Resolve 1
Resources 1
Weaponry 1

Leaving 10 points for further customisation.


Similarly, gadgets are also standard issue in a way they are not for SWING.

kingsman-umbrellaUmbrella: The reinforced and gadget-packed umbrella makes for a good close-combat weapon. Its hook gives it the aspect ‘Entangling’ and as a close combat weapon it does +1 damage. The umbrella itself projects onto itself what is behind it, so you can take cover behind it. When taking cover the umbrella provides +2 Armour to the agent behind it, but they cannot move as they must brace the umbrella for it to be effective. The shaft of the umbrella also houses a number of bullets which can be fired with lethal force (+2) or non-lethal force (+1, and confer a ‘dazed’ aspect if they hit).

st-george-9ct-gold-sovereign-ring-21mm_1Sovereign Ring: The sovereign ring holds a powerful electric charge, good for one solid punch doing +2 damage and conveyed the ‘shocked’ aspect.

350px-KingsmanPistolKingsman Pistol: The Kingsman pistol is a custom-modified firearm with an underslung single-shot, shotgun barrel – reloaded by break action. The pistol does +2 damage, while the shotgun, with a standard shot, does +2 damage and has the aspect ‘spread shot’. It imposes a -1 penalty to hit, however, due to its short barrel. Specialist shotgun rounds are available, but not detailed in the film. Presumably these would include:

1. Standard Shot.
2. Solid shot (+3 damage, no spread aspect).
3. Incendiary (+1 damage, confers aspect ‘on fire’ and 1 stress damage per turn.
4. High Explosive (+4 damage with an area explosion).
5. Armour Piercing (+2 damage, ignore up to 2 points of armour).
6. Rock Salt (+0 damage, confers ‘in pain’ aspect).

fe4f385841454725d8ee9e749ddab695Bulletproof Suit: The bulletproof, double-breasted suit confers two points of armour, but only against bullets and impact weapons.

628438_mrp_fr_lBlade Shoes: With these a kick attack can be made doing +1 damage. On the following turn the target suffers a damaging poison attack with a potency of +8. The oil on the blade is only good for a single attack and the damage is not ongoing.

AR Spectacles: The AR spectacles can take pictures, provide an augmented overlay (+1 to Alertness rolls) and provide a live feed back to HQ. As standard, everything is recorded.

Watch: The Kingsman watch, as well as being a £5,000 top of the range watch can fire a number of amnesia darts (potency +8, forget the last hour) or a single shock/bola dart which does +0 damage, has the aspect ‘entangling’ and confers the aspect ‘shocked’ if it hits and does damage.

Poison Pen:
The ink from the pen can be used as a powerful, ongoing poison. Normally harmless, it can be activated by the pen (if within a few metres range) after which it is a Potency +4 poison with ongoing effect.

69ee7d1a895810738cf605d10d012c25Lighter: The Kingsman lighter (gold, naturally) can be used as a single-shot flamethrower (+2, confers the ‘on fire’ aspect and 1 damage every turn, or as a grenade. Doing +5 damage with an area explosion.

#RPG A Witcher Class for the Dragon Warriors RPG

Geralt_of_riviaWitcher Class: For Dragon Warriors

Dragon Warriors is a brilliant ‘Old School’ RPG, reincarnated by Cubicle 7. It has an innate old-Europe feel, somewhat different to standard fantasy fare and well in keeping with The Witcher, which makes it a perfect system in which to run Witcher style RPG sessions.

You can get the PDFs HERE.

Minimum Requirements

A player who wishes his character to become a Witcher must roll scores of at least 10 for Reflexes and Strength and at least 9 for Intelligence and Psychic Talent.

Sign Casting

Witchers may cast their signs an unlimited number of times (there are no magic points) but they must have a hand free to do so and can only cast a sign every third turn.

Witchers and Armour

Witchers can wear any kind of armour but cannot (or at least do not) use shields. Witchers are primarily trained to fight in light armour however.

  • A Witcher can wear armour with an armour factor of 1-2 without penalty.
  • A Witcher can wear armour with an armour factor of 3-4 with a penalty of -2 to Attack/Defence.
  • A Witcher can wear armour with an armour factor of 5 with a penalty of -4 to Attack/Defence.

Witchers and Weapons

Witchers are extensively trained in the use of one-handed weapons only, to an insane degree of expertise. They are much less effective with other weapons. Two handed-weapons suffer a -2 penalty to Attack. This includes ranged weapons, with the exception of pistol-crossbows.

Pistol Crossbow: Damage: D6, 3 points. Short 0-15m, Medium 16-25m, Long 26-35m. 75F.

Health Points

Witchers start with 1D6+6 Health Points.

Combat Factors

Attack 13, Defence 5

Magical Combat Factors

Magical Attack 12, Magical Defence 4.


A Witcher’s starting Evasion Score is 4.

Stealth & Perception

A Witcher begins with Stealth 14 and Perception 8.

Initial Equipment

A Witcher starts play with:

  • Gambeson armour (1 armour).
  • A steel sword (d8, 4 points).
  • A silver sword (d6, 3 points). Silver swords can strike incorporeal opponents. Against supernatural monsters a silver sword gets +2 to its armour-bypass roll and +2 damage. Only Witcher-forged silver weapons have these abilities.
  • A backpack.
  • Flint and tinder.
  • A dagger.
  • 1d10 Florins.

The Special Abilities of a Witcher

Witchers have a few innate abilities and a very broad degree of customisation.

They begin with the following abilities:

Heightened Senses

Witchers have an (already) boosted Perception and can see clearly in low-light conditions, but not in total darkness. They start play with the Track ability, as per the Knight class.

Poison Resistance

Witchers consider their Strength to be two points higher than it is when resolving poison effects.

Ranking Up

  • +1 to Attack each time the character increases in Rank.
    +1 to Defence at 3rd Rank and every 2nd Rank thereafter (3,5,7,9…)
  • +1 to Health Points each Rank.
  • +1 to Magical Attack and Magical Defence at 2nd Rank and every 2nd Rank thereafter (2,4,6,8…)
  • +1 to Evasion at Rank 5 and another at Rank 9.
  • +1 to Perception at 2nd Rank and every 2nd Rank thereafter (2,4,6,8…)
  • +1 to Stealth at 4th Rank, 7th Rank and 10th Rank.

Each time a Witcher ranks they get two Skill Ranks to spend, which can be spent to buy the following (though they may only increase their Rank in any ability by 1 each time they Rank up):

Alchemy: You must be at least Rank 6, this gives you access to the Potion making abilities of a Sorcerer but you only have access to Dexterity, Occult Acuity, Strength, Healing, Poison, Theriac, Smoke, Amianthus, Truth, Love and Sleep.

Armour Piercing: As per the Assassin ability.

Armour Training: Offset your armour penalties for heavier armour by 1. You may take this up to four times to completely offset armour penalties.

Arrow Cutting: As per the Warlock ability.

Disarm Technique: As per the Knight ability.

Main Gauche: As per the Knight ability.

Major Enchantment (Armour): As per the Warlock ability.

Major Enchantment (Weapons): As per the Warlock ability.

Minor Enchantment (Armour): As per the Warlock ability.

Minor Enchantment (Weapons): As per the Warlock ability.

Quick Draw: As per the Knight ability.

Ride Warhorse: You can now ride warhorses.

Sign (Aard): A telekinetic wave is projected from the Witcher’s hand. This has a Speed of 13 and does 2 damage out to a range of 5m. A critical hit (double 1) knocks the target over. Extra Skill Ranks can be invested in this ability to raise the Speed, Range and Damage by +1 each per rank, to a maximum of Speed 18, 10m range and 7 damage.

Sign (Axii): Axii allows you to stun an opponent. Make a Magical Attack against an enemy and, if successful, they are stunned for one turn. A critical hit makes them fight on your side for that turn. Extra ranks spent in this sign increase the duration, up to a maximum of 6 turns. You can also use this ability in roleplay to try and subtly bend people to your will.

Sign (Igni): A blast of fire is projected from the Witcher’s hand. This has a Speed of 12 and does 3 damage out to a range of 5m. A critical hit (double 1) sets the target on fire for 1 damage per turn. Extra Skill Ranks can be invested in this ability to raise the Range, Damage and Damage per turn by 1 to a maximum of 10m, 8 damage and 6 damage per turn. You can also use this ability in roleplay to light or extinguish torches, candles, lamps and small fires.

Sign (Quen): Quen creates a magical barrier around you which can resist one hit from any attack. This operates like a shield (blocking on a 6 on D6) and lasts 1 turn. You can spend extra Skill Ranks on this sign to raise its duration and blocking ability by 1 per rank to a maximum of blocking automatically and lasting up to 6 turns.

Sign (Yrden): Yrden drops a magical trap at your feet which lasts until your next turn. Any enemy in the trap area (5m diameter) takes a penalty of -1 to Defence and if incorporeal is rendered vulnerable to normal attacks. Extra Skill Ranks can be invested in this ability to raise the duration and the Defence penalty by 1 per rank to a maximum of 6 turns and a -6 penalty.

Swordmaster: As per the Knight ability.

Unnatural Toughness: Add +1 Health Point. You may take this as many times as you like.