#AprilTTRPGmaker Favourite design tools?

imageThere aren’t really any tools that are made with roleplaying games in mind, other than map makers.

For that purpose I tend to prefer to import things into photoshop and do it there where everything’s a lot more powerful and adjustable.

On a day to day basis I use many of the following, some of which you may also find useful in your work, in one way or another.

Some of these are websites.

Some of these are programs.

Some of them are just ways of working things out in rough before moving forward with them.

Working for yourself, you may also find various tips and tricks for motivation helpful, but everyone is different and what gets me motivated may not get you motivated.

  • Openoffice
  • Grammarly
  • Filmora
  • Manycam
  • Audacity
  • Text-to-Speech (helps with editing)
  • Photoshop
  • InDesign
  • Notepad
  • Scratch paper and biros
  • Whiteboards
  • A Brother laser printer
  • The power of imagination
  • Picfont
  • Social Media
  • Youtube
  • Wikipedia
  • Reference Books
  • Online dice rolling sites
  • Pornhub

#AprilTTRPGmaker Favourite form of feedback?

Swearing-at-Work-is-Scientifically-Proven-to-Be-Good-For-YouSeriously_573523534_durantelallera-3-1024x683Positive feedback.

OK, seriously now. Well, positive feedback is good, because people are much less likely to give you positive feedback than negative feedback. People who are upset, annoyed, disgusted or whatever else are far more likely to share their upset than others will share their happiness or satisfaction.

This is called negativity bias and it exists across just about everything from customer service to Facebook posts. It manifests as anywhere from 2-5 times more often that something negative is said and shared than something positive. So, if you’re tallying up good and bad reviews or comments, mentally multiply the good ones so you don’t feel so bad!

Other than positive feedback (because it’s rare and the proportions are out of whack) the best kind of feedback occurs when someone tells you WHY they do or don’t like something. That way you get something useful you can work into your next game or you can see that this person doesn’t get it, wasn’t the right audience or whatever else.

“Your game sucks.” Isn’t helpful.

“Your game sucks because the initiative system is broken, allowing slow baddies to go first.” Is, but shows that maybe they haven’t understood, or you have made a mistake.

“Your historically accurate game, set in medieval Bohemia, sucks because there aren’t any transabled, genderfluid people of colour in positions of authority.” Is helpful, because the person doesn’t appreciate the point of historicity, the freedom the make their own games or what you were trying to accomplish.

“Your game is rad.” Is great for the ego, but not helpful.

“Your game is rad, I love the way that one power allows me to kill any enemy in a single hit.” Even though the person is happy, either there’s a problem with the system or they’re interpreting it wrong, which is useful.

“Your game’s great. I love to fap over the picture of the succubus.” Is just… oversharing.

One of the best things you can do for any game maker whose work you enjoy is to spread the word and leave reviews and comments. This is possibly even more useful than direct patronage.

#AprilTTRPGmaker What are yer dreams and plans?

nightmareGet well so I can do anything.

Past that…

I have lots of plans and ideas, but I’m trying not to focus on them since it all brings home how little I’m mentally and emotionally able to accomplish right now. Despite that, here’s the things I want to do…

  • Continue to support Gor with products and adventures.
  • Crowdfund a horror/dark fantasy setting in an undead-infested prison-city.
  • Finish my trio of post apocalyptic survival games.
  • New edition of Blood!
  •  New edition of Agents of SWING
  • Machinations of the Space Princess Companion
  • Fantasy setting using the Machinations of the Space Princess rules.

I would also like to transition into writing more fiction and into working more on computer games, providing world-building and writing services.

#RPG – SSS&S – The Pitch

A6520-2Over the next thirty days or so, I will be doing preliminary work and outlining plans and ideas for a fantasy setting for Machinations of the Space Princess, Sexy, Sleazy Swords & Sorcery. This first taste is free, but if you want early access to the ideas and rules that I am thinking of, you’ll need to sign up to my Makersupport or Patreon. You’ll also have the opportunity to provide feedback, make requests and so on.

Elevator Pitch
Alright, so this is a bit of a weird one. I am creating a fantasy world for Machinations of the Space Princess, which is a science fiction RPG, created as a derivation of Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Lamentations of the Flame Princess is, in turn, an ‘Old School Renaissance’ game, which is a derivation of early D&D, made possible by ‘retrocloning’ and the Open Gaming License.

It’s also a bit of a weird one in that MOTSP was an exercise in creating an implicit, rather than an explicit, game world and instead fixating on the rules as the main part of what I was doing. This time around I am concentrating far more on the game world than the rules (which are already written) and creating a new – and hopefully exciting – spin on the fantasy staples.

The average person speaks at about 130-140 words per minute, which means my ’30 second elevator pitch’ needs to be no more than about 65-70 words.

Alright, let’s go…

With this game world the MOTSP rules will be returning to their fantasy roots and bringing the best parts of what they do with them. This will be ‘sexy, sleazy, swords and sandals’, with an emphasis on freedom of choice and action in its rules and new, interesting and ‘edgy’ takes on the standard monsters and races that people expect, as well as the openness to play almost anything.

30day

#AprilTTRPGmaker Favourite game mechanic?

FScover.pngThere’s two different game mechanics that I think have made a particularly noteworthy impact on the way in which we play.

The first, and perhaps most important I think, was the introduction of ‘stunts’ in Feng Shui. Feng Shui is very much an emulation game, attempting to recreate the feel of the high-octane and frequently ridiculous martial arts and gunplay antics of Hong Kong action films. The key ingredient to that emulation is the ‘stunt’ mechanic, where you receive a bonus to your actions, not a penalty, when you attempt something particularly wild and stupid, say, kicking a whisky bottle towards the enemy gang members and then shooting it to create a fireball.

It might seem obvious now, but shifting the mechanics to represent the conventions of genre, rather than realistic difficulty, was pretty wild and revolutionary – not that it was the first game to toy with these ideas. As a mechanical means of encouraging great roleplay and making game combats more interesting, it was fantastic.

Interestingly another game that did this well was Deadlands, which encouraged players to bring their own character flaws and drawbacks into play in exchange for tokens. Both games first came out in 1996.

bp-front-coverThe second mechanic that has really made a difference to me was the way in which Blue Planet handled initiative rolls. Determining turn order is always a pain in the arse and while getting to go first has some advantages, being able to react to what others have done also confers an advantage. Blue Planet reversed the typical situation of most games by inverting things.

In Blue Planet the lowest initiative would go first, but anyone with a higher initiative could interrupt them and take their action. This forced the lower initiative people to telegraph their actions, expose their vulnerability and yet still gave the higher initiative people a chance to act and brought value to their higher speed. For a long time we imported this system into our other games. It’s a bit slower and a little harder to keep track of, but for grittier games it certainly seems to work.

#AprilTTRPGmaker Who are you?

29415856_177908456264412_4608036318428004352_nThere’s a ‘thirty-day challenge’ (these are popular in the TTRPG community) aimed towards tabletop game designers. I need content and am trying to recover from a long and nasty bout of depression, so this seems like a good way to try and get back on track.

The first question is ‘who are you’? Which is either a really deep or a really shallow question, depending which way you take it.

I’m James ‘Grim’ Desborough. The ‘Grim’ was originally an insult, directed at me at college where I was a mopey goth kid with a dark and sick sense of humour. The slang of the time was ‘that’s Grim’ for anything disgusting or awful, so with typical contrarianism, I adopted it as my nickname. Hence ‘Grim Jim’.

I’m a rapidly-ageing, semi-notorious game designer, known better for a rather thin gruel of supposed transgression than my work in game design and independent publishing – which is unfortunate.

I’ve had my toe in the game design waters since the early 90s, but my career really took off in 1999-2000, with the publication of The Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming (which kicked off the whole Munchkin phenomenon and lead to a lot of freelance work).

Since around 2005 I’ve primarily been working on my own material, but I’ve been suffering from bouts of depression since 2007-2008 which have made work and freelancing rather difficult. Still, I struggle on and while my work is informed by my interest in history, old-school left-wing politics and my struggles with mental illness, it rarely dominates my work – with the exception of one or two projects such as ImagiNation and The Little Grey Book.

tumblr_ozzupxaSXr1qgh5aeo1_540.pngI occupy a design/writing space somewhere between the OSR and Indie scene, and most other sociopolitical armed camps, which means I end up pleasing nobody and being a filthy centrist! My work is also informed by my commitments to free expression, controversial (meaning, interesting) subjects, sexual freedom and the implications of science (and fantasy) on society.

Hopefully, that sounds interesting 🙂

#RPG #Art #Cosplay – ZelArt Scholarship Commissions

000564-Free-logomaker-Pencil-Tree-Logo-01The ZelArt Scholarship fundraiser has paid out and combined with the private donations there’s about $600 to play with. As I’ve covered, this year we’ve done things a little differently. To increase the sustainability of the project and the scholarship, this year the money will be going to as many art commissions as possible to be sold as stock art to support the scholarship into the future.

To that end, I am now looking for artists to commission.

I would prefer, still, to hire artists who are at school, college or university or who need the money due to some hardship or necessity. I’d still like to help people, even doing things this way around, as much as possible.

  • Obviously, the cheaper people can provide work the better, as we can get more work to sell. That said here’s what we’re looking for…
  • Original content – you can provide suggestions or we can.
  • Fantasy, science fiction, horror, post apocalypse, steampunk, modern cop/spy/soldier, occult and other genre material.
  • Characters, weapons, ships, vehicles, anything that fits. Spot-art for pages would also be good, several smaller pieces (like spot art) on a page would also be acceptable.
  • Quarter, half or full page at 300-600 dpi, colour or black and white (B&W sells better).
  • We’re opening up to cosplayers too, the same sorts of requirements apply and your content must be original. There isn’t the money to commission costumes or shoots, but you would be helping a good cause and making a little bit of cash!

Commissioned art will be paid on completion and your contact details and portfolio link will be included as part of the stock license. This means that any company or individual using your art will be given your information and must include it in any products that they produce. ‘Exposure’ has a bad rep, with good reason, but on top of being paid it can’t hurt!

If any artists want to DONATE art, they can also do that and it would be greatly appreciated. We’re open to that all year round.

Contact HERE for more details or to put yourself forward.