#RPG Chronicle City: Forever Summer – Dev Diary

Approaching the game Forever Summer I wanted to do something different. A short project suitable as an introductory game and one that adults could use to introduce children to role-playing. Hopefully I succeeded by fusing a simple system that even adults have enjoyed (variations of this system appear in Urban Faerie and Invaderz) with a background of adventure and reference to the classic kids movies of my youth, and the series and cartoons of today.

I set out to create a kid-friendly game, in contrast to the more controversial or ‘edgy’ kind of material I generally prefer. A kid friendly game demands a different approach – not that it can’t have a little bite. There are scary and gross moments in all kinds of kids shows, movies and cartoons and many of them do deal with some complicated issues. Simplicity doesn’t have to be patronising.

Forever Summer is designed more for pick-up play than anything else, so characters are based on familiar ‘stereotypes’ from the genre. So you might pick out a character that is the:

Fat kid with a lot of heart

Fat kid with a lot of heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cute little kid

Cute little kid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nerdy kid

The nerdy kid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so on.

This is great for pick-up and play because you immediately have a hook and understanding of a character ready to go. With the customisation and the player’s input, they become a bit more individual and if you want to come back to that character again, you can, building up a little ‘mythos’ of child adventurers.

The town in which the default game is set is called Oceanview. It’s a small town near the coast in the Pacific Northwest, in amongst the forest and close to the sea. It’s a town full of weirdness and oddity, to which you can add your own – as much as you like – expanding Oceanview and its people as you do so. For those familiar with role-playing games, you could almost think of it as a child-friendly Al Amarja (Over the Edge). If you grew up in the early nineties and were fortunate enough, you could also compare it to Eerie Indiana.

Overall, I think this would be an excellent game to introduce kids – perhaps as young as seven or eight, all the way up to adult kids – to roleplaying. You can steal plots and ideas from kids shows and films from past, present and future to make things familiar – or even recreate them. For older players there’s nostalgia, for younger players playing out their shows and films can help them understand the game a little easier.

I hope you’ll enjoy it and that it fulfils its design aims. Questions in the comments are welcome!

You can find the game to buy HERE.

Machinations: Races

Here’s a rough draft of the list of race-types you’ll be able to pick from. Each type will have race traits that can modify your character. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, it’ll be the odd extra skill point, stat point or access to extra senses, capabilities and so on.

It’s a simple, flexible way of custom-building alien characters and NPCs in a quick, ‘checkbox’ manner.

These lists are all open, so if you don’t see something that you’d want to play, speak up!

Species

Amoeboid
Amphibian
Avian
Bat
Canine
Cephlapod
Cetacean
Chemosynthetic
Defensive
Elephantine
Exotic Attack
Feline
Fish-Like
Fungus
Herbivore
Humanoid
Insect
Jelly
Marsupial
Mollusc
Nocturnal
Parasitic
Plant
Predator
Primate
Reptilian
Robotic
Rodent
Scavenger
Sessile
Snake
Swarm
Thermosynthetic
Turtle
Ursinoid
Venomous
Worm

Culture

Caste
Criminal
Duplicitous
Hunter
Intellectual
Libertine
Pacifistic
Psychic
Spiritual
Technical
Warrior

Miscellaneous

Ammonia-Based
Boron-Based
Cyborg
Dead
Energy
Giant
Metal-Oxide Based
Methane-Based
Multi-Limbed
Psychic
Shapeshifting
Silicon-Based
Software
Sulphur-Based
Tiny

ImagiNation: Dev Diary 3

When I write games – or fiction – I always start with an outline to tell me what needs doing and to construct the ‘skeleton’ of the book and make sure everything is covered. This is the ‘content skeleton’ for ImagiNation. If you think anything is missing or should be included that isn’t, please let me know and I’ll think about revision. Not shown is that there will be little bits of fiction distributed throughout the book along with the art that has been commissioned.

 

ImagiNation

Credits/Legal

Introduction

Welcome

Postmortem Studios

Piracy Plea

Roleplaying

ImagiNation

Depression & Creativity

The Description System

Terminology

Example Adventure

A Choose Your Own Adventure Introduction

The Disaster

The State of Play

Ex-Patriots

The Islands

The Blockade

Base Foxtrot

Lo-Bots

The Government

The Dream Trade

Reclaimers

The Monad

Dreams & Nightmares

Sleepers

Loci

You Have to be Crazy

Characters

Who are you?

Describe Yourself

What can you do?

What Have you Got?

What did you used to do?

Character Profiles

The Arts

Acting

Architecture

Dancing

Music

Painting & Drawing

Poetry

Singing

Writing

Chemical Imbalance

Anxiey

Delirium

Depression

Imposter Syndrome

Mania

Manic-Depression

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Phobia

Psychopathic

Schizophrenia

Sociopathic

Rules

Doing Things

Rolling Dice

Opposition & Assistance

Hurting Each Other

Experience

Playing Other Ways

The World Gone Mad

People

Places

Things

Playing the Game

What do we do?

Adventure Seeds

Campaigns

Living Game World

ImagiNation: Dev Diary 2

It’s – finally – the end of the whole Queen’s Jubilee thing – thank goodness, and so I’m able to get back on with work. This also means things have backed up a bit and that I have been hit with dozens of ideas (which always happens when  take a break) and have probably taken on too many responsibilities again.

I’ve taken the opportunity, though, to re-read through Neverwhere and The Descriptive System (TDS is an unfortunate acronym, but never mind). Scary to think I originally wrote the first version of that system back in… what, 92? Twenty years ago? That’s a little scary.

The third iteration of the rules doesn’t really need anything doing to it, other than a little adaptation to make it fit the setting and special rules to cover the special situations.

Coming back to something you’ve written after a few years is a weird experience because in a sense it is like reading something written by somebody else. Especially the way I tend to move from project to project to project, rather than latching on to one thing in particular and developing it hard.

Even if I do say so myself, TDS in Neverwhere3 is a bloody elegant, adaptable and pretty brilliant system for narrative lead games. I wouldn’t use it for anything more gritty and violent but it is, absolutely, the best fit for ImagiNation, especially given the way that things can be created, modified and adapted in ImagiNation.

I have also now commissioned the majority of the art in addition to the pieces that I already have. Relative to my normal projects ImagiNation will be quite lavishly illustrated.

The final book will be A5 (like my pocket editions of other books) and I don’t know how many pages yet. I intend to put a lot of useful GMing ‘kit’ stuff in there, ideas, adventure seeds, advice and so on. I also want to take the time to make it welcoming to new players and I want to write a good piece about depression, mental illness etc to include in the book without getting too preachy. I still need to acknowledge why the game is being made and how I hope it will help.

As to the generic version of the TDS rules I intend to release, I’m open to suggestions from the peanut gallery. Should I cover it by genres and special rules? Divide it into sections for magic, superheroes, fantasy, horror, science fiction and so on? What do you think? What systems and genres do you think need to be covered?

ImagiNation: Dev Diary One

The basic idea for ImagiNation goes back quite a long way but it’s only now that I’ve really been able to put it all together and found the hook that brings it all together.

British fiction has its own particular love affair with the end of the world but it’s much more understated than post-apocalyptic fiction in other cultures. A running theme in a lot of it is a sort of return to pre-industrial rural, agricultural living as though that were somehow desirable.

ImagiNation’s apocalypse is an unknown and possibly unknowable disaster. A breaking down of reality to the point where imagination and delusion take on a physical reality. Everyone’s fancy, nightmare and dream becomes a tulpa and runs wild, clashing and interacting in the ‘wild’ while the dreamers are lost in the same clashing world of their fancies.

I intend to blog quite a bit as the game is put together, after all, there’s no harm in being open about it and gives people who backed the game some extra value.

The first thing I really want to talk about is the whole crowdfunding thing. I’ve talked before about how Kickstarter, Indiegogo etc make me feel a little uncomfortable. In part this is because people seem to ask for a hell of a lot more money than they should actually need (ten times as much in some cases). When it’s for a charitable purpose it’s a little easier for me to swallow both begging for money and the shameless self-promotion that’s involved – something I always find a bit tricky.

I had to use Indiegogo because Kickstarter only allows US accounts to be tied to them. That makes things a bit more tricky because Indiegogo doesn’t have the level of cachet or trust that Kickstarter does. I’m fairly certain I could have raised more cash at Kickstarter but there simply wasn’t the option. That’s something I think other  people looking to crowdfund should keep in mind.

I still don’t think I would use crowdsourcing for my normal projects, but as a way of doing ‘hostageware’ or games with a charitable aspect to them (such as ImagiNation) I do think it’s a good option. I’m just not comfortable ‘begging’ to provide funds to my normal projects.

It’s a double bank holiday Monday and Tuesday so don’t expect too much progress until Wednesday and I’ll be alternating my work on PROJECT and ImagiNation. This is an open development process so any queries, questions or suggestions are welcome as we go along.

 

ImagiNation is GO

Huge thanks to everybody who backed me.

This weekend is, obviously, the Queen’s diamond jubilee so the whole country has gone mad. This means I can’t really start cracking on until Wednesday, probably.

I intend to do constant dev-diary type stuff over on the company blog so keep an eye out there for developments.

IMPORTANT
If you backed me and selected a reward, I don’t necessarily have your real name or the name you’d prefer to have in the book or ‘shouted out’ as a thank you on social media.

If you want to collect your reward please contact me ASAP directly, by e-mail, even if I know who you are, even if I’ve already name-checked you, and let me know what reward level you’re claiming. I can cross-check that against the Indiegogo data and I can sort out your character profiles, shout-outs and/or he things you wanted included in the game (within reason).

If you don’t have my mail it’s: grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk or you can grab me on twitter via @grimachu

Blood!: Hell on Earth

I have two major problems in writing games. Firstly I don’t have enough time, energy or copies of myself to write everything that I want to write and publish. Secondly, I tend to come up with the same ideas as other people at a similar sort of time. Fortunately I beat others to the punch with Agents of SWING and the only very-similar product to come out was 7TV – which is brilliant and awesome but is a skirmish minis game and thus doesn’t bite into the same market.

Another case is Adamant Bloody Entertainment and their bastarding East-West fusion game Far West. This is so bloody similar in concept, if not execution, to my own project Setting Sun that I’m in two minds whether to go ahead, though they’re different enough in other ways. Mine’s alt-history and more Samurai themed than Wu Xia themed, and not Steampunk per-se. Mine also uses a poker mechanic and is oriented on team/gang/pack play. We’ll see. Setting Sun could be the Cyberpunk to Far West’s Shadowrun.

When it comes to Blood! it has been my intention since I resurrected the game to create the long promised supplements/reskins of that game Hell on Earth and Star Shock. Hell on Earth was to be my first. I was all excited to revise the Blood! rules some, create some setting background and material on Puritan witch-hunters post restoration, trying to survive the crown and the Annus Mirablis (1666), the devil’s own year when many thought the end of the world was come. I was going to create a dark post-civil war, post-Cromwell setting of debauched courts, downtrodden puritans, devilry, witchcraft, zombies, omens, infernalism, qabbalistic magic and Hammer Horror references when what should happen but this?

Shit.

Shit indeed.

Fortunately, since its relatively humble beginnings, Defoe:1666 has gone somewhat bugnuts crazy, which is fine as these things go, but does distance it quite a bit from the more serious approach I was going to take.

So, that means Hell on Earth is probably back on the cards for development in the not-too-distant future, after the current swathe of heavy, long-term projects and I’ll probably be throwing ideas up here.

One of the main things to do in B:HoE is to address criticisms of the Blood! system, insomuch as it can be done without losing the system’s integrity and raison d’etre. The errata/suggestions that already exist will be incorporated and we’ll probably try and find a way to speed up or slimline the character creation system but the bloody and brutal combat will – of course – remain.

I’m likely to throw ideas up here as they occur to me, as much to keep them safe as to draw comment but I do crave feedback on development and all aspects of our games. So please don’t be shy of speaking up.