#200wordRPG #RPG #TTRPG – Martha

Hm0mU1525358792This is a game for two players. Each player describes a superhero in broad, general terms such as ‘I dress up as a bat and punch people, with gadgets’. They then describe three key events from their character’s past.

For example:

  • My parents are dead, murdered in a mugging.

  • A superpowered drug addict broke my back.

  • I was born into wealth and privilege. I never wanted for anything.

Each player then takes it, in turn, to present the opposite hero with a heroic dilemma, such as a choice between saving the woman he loves, or a bus-load of nuns.

For example:

I spend many nights praying for a just, benevolent god to bring back my parents, or to reveal who it was that murdered them. My prayers went unanswered. Fuck those nuns. Fuck them in their stupid arses.”

Using the engine of a flashback, that fits a key event, the player must describe something related to it, that informs their decision upon how to act. Play continues until both players have made three dilemma decisions, no key event may be used for a flashback more than once. This ramps up the challenge as play continues.

#AprilTTRPGmaker What’s your brand?

130175-thumb140I don’t know what my brand is really. It’s probably very different depending who you ask – since the gaming world is as polarised as everything else in the world these days.

To some I guess my brand is sophomoric humour, sleaze and what they see as reactionary ‘conservatism’ – which is an odd accusation to level at a left-anarchist. They think I’m part of some sort of exclusionary or bigoted ‘old school’.

To others I’m one face of a ‘resistance’ movement against the kind of people who have the first opinion. Someone who fights and argues back.

I don’t really fit into either group. I see myself as someone who supports free expression and the right of everyone to make whatever kind of game they damn well please. This can set me against people on extremes in either direction, as – apparently – does my lack of commitment to either wishy-washy, indie/narrative games or heavy, simulationist games.

I’m an independent who does their own thing and chafes under constriction of any kind. That’s my brand. Regardless of what anyone else thinks. I’m interested in interesting ideas – which often means controversial ones – and my ‘jams’ are horror, science fiction, sex and transgression.

So if you like an independent, free-thinker behind your games (though I think games should be judged on their own merits) that’s me.

Freelancer for Hire

26814826_10159764555225545_5335768016345800984_nAfter a protracted illness, I am trying to ease back into work and freelancing is the best way to control the amount of work and get back into discipline and practice. I’m flexible and willing to work on most kinds of projects – including computer games – if you need an experienced or creative hand to lend some flair.

**I AM AVAILABLE FOR FREELANCE WORK:**
Links to my profiles on Fiverr & People Per Hour (these will be expanded as I add services):

Fiverr: https://www.fiverr.com/grimachu
People Per Hour: https://www.peopleperhour.com/freelancer/james/writer-tabletop-game-designer/1264912

**DIRECT SERVICES:**
Currently, my 2018 plate is clear and free for freelancing and consultancy. I’m pretty reliable, despite my health issues, and can offer reasonably fast turnaround. I can, perhaps uniquely, provide detail and grounding to scenarios – even dungeons – to humanise them and give them a bit of depth. Give me a try, see what I can do for your games.

I am a 17+ year veteran of the tabletop game publishing world with lots of experience in freelancing and self-publishing.

I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Nightfall, Cubicle Seven Entertainment and more. I have also written fiction and worked on social media computer games, packing a lot of meaning into short pieces of text.

As a self-publisher, I have overseen every step of the publication process from concept through to publication including writing, editing, layout and modification. I also produce Youtube material and have begun producing audiobooks. If you need some narration for a video project or an audiobook reading, I can help.

Here are some of the services I can offer, and the minimum prices offered – though anything is negotiable up or down depending on the client. I will work pseudonymously if that is a concern for you.

  • New writing (raw text): $0.03c/word (minimum)
  • Proofreading/Light Editing/Commentary: $0.01c/word (second and third deeper passes are possible).
  • ePublishing/RPG Publishing consultation. Skype/Hangout/Call: $20/hour.
  • Consultation on your game project: $20/hour.
  • Layout (InDesign): $11 an hour.
  • Stock Art Shopfront: Postmortem Studios have a huge stock art catalogue from multiple artists and we’d love to add * you to that storefront. If you’re an artist who wants to sell your stock art but doesn’t want to deal with the accounts and uploads etc with your own storefront (which would be my first recommendation), then I can do that for you for 50% (I round up your payouts). Even if you don’t want to do this through me I recommend doing it anyway for all artists and can consult on best practice if you need advice.
  • Voice Work: If you find my dulcet tones to your liking, I’m available for voice over work and narration, recording audiobooks and more. Rates negotiable, starting at $11 per hour.
  • Promotion/Interview: Free. If you have a product you want to pimp out or would like to just talk game design and culture, you’re welcome to talk to me and appear on my Youtube channel.
  • Book Trailers/Videos/Adverts.
    * Paid Gamesmastering over streams/skype.

#RPG #Writing #Design Available for Freelancing

Internet issues killed my income last month and prevented me finishing a couple of projects meaning I’m down on money. If you have any work going, let me know and please retweet and pass on.

Currently, my plate is clear and free for freelancing and consultancy after last month. Despite my internet issues I should be able to complete any work, it just may take a little longer than normal (24-48 hours). I’m normally pretty reliable and can offer reasonably fast turnaround.

I am a 16+ year veteran of the tabletop game publishing world with experience in freelancing and self-publishing. I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Nightfall, Cubicle Seven Entertainment and more. I have also written fiction and worked on social media computer games, packing a lot of meaning into short pieces of text. As a self-publisher, I have overseen every step of the publication process from concept through to publications including writing, editing, layout and modification. I also produce Youtube material and have begun producing audiobooks.

Here’s some of the services I can offer, and the minimum prices offered – though anything is negotiable up or down depending on the client. I will work pseudonymously if that is a concern for you, however stupid that situation is.

  • New writing (raw text): $0.03c/word (minimum)
  • Proofreading/Light Editing/Commentary: $0.01c/word (second and third deeper passes are possible).
  • ePublishing/RPG Publishing consultation Skype/Hangout/Call: $20/hour.
  • Consultation on your game project: $20/hour.
  • Layout (InDesign): $11 an hour.
  • Stock Art Shopfront: Postmortem studios have a huge stock art catalogue from multiple artists and we’d love to add you to that storefront. If you’re an artist who wants to sell your stock art but doesn’t want to deal with the accounts and uploads etc with your own storefront (which would be my first recommendation) then I can do that for you for 50% (I round up your payouts).
  • Voice Work: If you find my dulcet tones to your liking, I’m available for voice over work and narration, recording audiobooks and more. Rates negotiable.

#RPG – Interviewed at Supernerdland

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You can read my interview at Supernerdland HERE.

If you want me for a podcast, stream, guest blog/vlog or written interview just let me know.

#RPG Where Mechanics & Aesthetics Meet

red_sonja_by_warlordwardog-d51rfhxI’ve been playing The Witcher and it has me thinking about the interaction of mechanical and aesthetic choices for players in games, as is Liana Kersner’s complaint about the secondary character Ciri.

Starting out in the game I appreciated the chance to play Geralt as a silver-fox, a good looking guy in sexy armour. The whole leather-and-chain look was great but since that first set of armour the only stuff that has looked good for him is a shirt.

Now, I like the swashbuckler aesthetic and I like, generally, to play light, nimble, rogueish characters. My response to the complaints about Ciri would be that she is a fast, mobile character (her one available magical power is a localised ‘teleport’ to avoid harm) and that, as such, she wears lighter armour. The problem with this is that the mechanics of the game don’t line up with that.

In order to do well at the game I am forced to compromise my aesthetic and roleplaying preference for a light/fast/roguish character style and to take whatever the heaviest armour available is. There’s no penalty for doing so, I’m not slowed down in a fight, it doesn’t penalise my adrenalin recovery or anything and – equally – there’s no bonus for choosing the lighter armour. I could tone down the difficulty to preserve my aesthetic/RP choices, but that feels a bit like a cheap cop-out.

Choler1Mechanics can often force you to go for the heavier weapon when you’d rather be more accurate or skilful, the heavier armour when you’d rather remain mobile. These choices are often not rendered meaningful because there is no downside to choosing the heavier weapon – it just does more damage.

This can be a reason for verisimilitude in games, to take a more ‘simulationist’ bent when making your designs. Heavy armour that penalises your initiative, your ability to dodge, how fast you move and so on, trading it for greater protection. Lighter armour that doesn’t slow you down or even, perhaps, makes you more mobile, faster and the trade-off being that you’re more vulnerable.

Tabletop games tend to simulate this better, but usually in a relatively soft manner by limiting certain bonuses or capping certain skills. Computer games do it less often and their workarounds, where they exist, often break immersion. Lord of the Rings Online had an ‘aesthetic armour’ option, where you could load one set of armour for appearance and another for effect – an elegant workaround, but one which still left you feeling disconnected from the gameworld.

There’s two ways around this problem, either…

  • The narrative becomes king and armour becomes primarily an aesthetic choice, mechanically equal.
  • The simulation becomes king and armour choices represent a meaningful choice between different fighting paradigms.

#RPG – Video: The Process

I was asked to make a video about my process in RPG design/writing. So here it is, intermingled with some tips and commentary.