IndieGoGo: Machinations of the Space Princess – Sexy, Sleazy, Swords & Sci-Fi


The Machinations of the Space Princess fundraiser as part of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventure fundraiser didn’t fund but there was sufficient interest to warrant another look.

MotSP will set its sights on the world of sleazy, sensual pulp Science Fiction from the likes of Metal Hurlant, creating a universe of heavy metal space opera (rather than rock n’ roll).

Rather than a single adventure and some ideas, MotSP will be a FULL GAME.

MotSP will give you ALL THE RULES you need to play.

MotSP will BULGE AT THE SEAMS with adventure ideas and toolkits to help you create and maintain your game and produce ideas.

MotSP will include fantastic art by Satine Phoenix.

MotSP will take your gang of wandering space-reprobates from the strip clubs of Proxima to the feudal planets of the Black Cluster. The glass spires of Imperial Space to the wastelands of scrap-worlds.

MotSP will take you from confronting elemental evil to delving the crypts of long-dead civilisations across the known galaxy.

MotSP is planned to include:

  • Expert, Psion, Scholar and Warrior classes.
  • Extensive rules for creating humanoid and inhumanoid aliens or robots as PCs or monsters.
  • Expanded skill & combat rules.
  • Cannon fodder rules.
  • SF gear.
  • Starship combat.
  • Psionics
  • Hints, tips and toolkits for the GM and players alike.
  • Basic rules for creating stars, planets, cities and adventures.
  • A full game background.
  • A sample adventure.

Why should you back us?

Satine is a fantastic, up-and-coming illustrator and associated with I Hit it With my Axe and D&D With Pornstars. This project will give her a real chance to stretch her artistic legs and show off.

I am a full time RPG writer and author with a lifetime love of science-fiction comics, novels and fantasy art. If you’ve ever looked at a Tim White or Roger Dean illustration and been inspired to set a game in what you see, we have something in common.

I have a proven track record of producing great games in PDF and POD as well as selling through publishers such as Cubicle 7 and Chronicle City. I have worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Cubicle 7 Entertainment and others and won an Origins Award (along with my writing partner Steve mortimer) for my work on The Munchkin’s Guide to Powergaming, the book that spawned the card game.

If nothing else, you’re guaranteed an amusing read with great art and that HAS to be worth a few bucks.


All funds donated will be used whether the project hits its target or not! If you’re donating, you’re actually donating! Whatever amount up to $1,000 is raised will go on art from Satine. Past that number we’ll start to reveal and trigger stretch goals and the money will be split 50/50 between art and payment to me for my time/effort (and driving lessons!)

Lamentations Musings

I took this week and last week off to relax a bit and to prepare for my driving theory test (passed, thank you). Starting next week I’ll be working more on my fiction than on gaming stuff. That may – oddly – mean you’ll see more things coming out from me for  while as what I do write will be shorter projects (to keep things ticking over) and various other projects will be coming to an end.

Separate to that I haven’t given up on the idea of Machinations of the Space Princess but I think I need to testbed a few ideas first. I’m thinking of doing so via a fantasy-science (rather than science fantasy) hexcrawl/setting and putting a few of my rules adjustments out there to get some feedback.

‘Old School’ doesn’t mean much to me, I didn’t start with D&D and so I don’t quite have the same sensibility as the OSR. Raggi’s work is as much about attitude as mechanics though, about strong ideas and help in applying them and that’s something I can relate to.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess already deals with many of my existing issues with D&D clones and old school games. It’s a lot deadlier, it has a simple but usable skill system and an attitude towards improvisation and individual monsters that works very well.

I’m a fiddler though, I can’t help it. I still have a few issues. Race-as-class isn’t something I like, I think the skill system could stretch a bit further and I think some guidelines on ‘stunts’ and manoeuvres to give a few more options than ‘I hit it with my axe’ isn’t something that would hurt. It’d all be optional anyway.

So, for this hexcrawl setting I’d need to think about what I might change for Maksa-Jazra (the setting name).

1. Character Classes

Ditch the Cleric, Magic User, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling. Keep the Fighter and the Specialist. Add the Psionicist and Scholar. Rather than racial classes I’m thinking cultural/racial – in a human societal sense – minor modifiers.

2. Skills

The ones that are already there make a great ‘basic’ skill list, but if you’re removing some of the magic etc then I think you need to compensate by introducing some extra skills limited either by class or to the specialist (who can have anything). I’m thinking a few things like Alchemy, Craft, Healing, Psi Training, Learning. I also want to expand fighter’s combat capabilities with a few Fighter-centric skills to help guide/define/describe special attacks and so forth. Similar to Sneak Attack but a bit more broad. Things like Weapon Training, Combat Power, Trip, Parry, Knock-Out, Death Blow, Toughness, Disarm, Stun, Sniper, Deadly Aim and so on. Specialists would get 4+2 per level, other characters would get 1 skill point per level and Scholars might get 2+2 per level.

3. Equipment

Just want to add some refined black-powder weapons, but not much more for this.

4. Psionics

Keep things simple, character level + psi skill +Will/Int bonus for ‘power points’, and level of power is the cost to ‘cast’ in power points. The ‘spell list’ needs to be reduced down and limited though and would be combined and reskinned Mage/Cleric spells from the list.

5. Creatures & Twists

Most enemies would be human, but a basic bestiary of dangerous animals is always a good thing and I want to throw some random mutations in there too. So you can have nasty, horrible mutant animals and people who are ‘twists’ too.

Machinations: Adult Vs Mature

The great thing about Lamentations of the Flame Princess is that it is an unquestionably adult game and there’s no need to agonise over whether to include gratuitous sex and violence, not that I do particularly anyway.

I think part of the problem when it comes to this sort of content is the interchangeability of the terms ‘Adult’ and ‘Mature’. You can’t know – very well – whether you’re getting something that that is serious and grown up or is a cavalcade of blood and tits. Just to confuse matters you can also have things that are both.

Let’s try and give these a better definition then.

When something is ‘Adult’ let us say that the content it has in it is the sort of thing you wouldn’t necessarily want kids looking at. Nakedness, sex, ultra-violence, pornography, that sort of thing. It’s not saying it’s bad, but that the content can be uncomplicated. Sophomoric one might say if one were being uncharitable.

When something is ‘Mature’ let us say that the content in it is ‘serious’. That it is the sort of thing kids may find deadly boring. Politics, relationships, ‘grown up’ stuff. This is kind of nebulous, it’s like the difference between comics and art, literature and genre fiction, the subject of much debate. Still, this is a good starting point.

Of course, the existence of ‘Adult’ material also allows greater exploration of ‘Mature’ material in the repercussions of sexual relationships, the aftermath of violence and so on. It’s perfectly possible for something to be both ‘Adult’ and ‘Mature’.

My aim in, hopefully, making Machinations of the Space Princess will be to hit the ‘Adult’ button hard enough to let the ‘Mature’ part take care of itself through play. My model is the likes of Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant, adult (if not always mature) continental comics and magazines.

Machinations of the Space Princess

So, let’s talk a little about my Lamentations of the Flame Princess IndieGoGo, being organised by James Raggi. My project is Machinations of the Space Princess and the blurb goes a little like this:

Another time. A distant galaxy. The Orlathian Empire holds utter dominion over the known universe. Rich beyond dreams, corrupt beyond nightmares, decadent and cruel beyond measure. Princess Madan Kaana of the House of Diamonds maintains a private, little pleasure asteroid, deep in the Scyllan Abyss where she brings her playthings to fight, die and mate for her amusement. You are those playthings. This is your time to die. Can you escape the Machinations of the Space Princess?

This doesn’t tell you a massive amount other than that this is going to explicitly be a Sci-Fantasy adventure. I want to take it a bit beyond that however. While it will be usable as a space-based adventure/dungeon I want – within the word-count to sketch out inspiration and ideas for people to use it as a springboard into their own wild and crazy sci-fantasy adventures. I want to provide the tools and inspiration for people to take off. I’ll mention things but won’t go into huge detail, the Orlanthians, robotics, the noble houses, aliens and creatures, everything needed to launch a wild and crazy space-spanning game in the spirit of Lamentations.

The adventure will be written as an escape from this space-based prison but there’ll be enough detail there to use it as a location, to freeform within the space, to use it in context or to play it from the other ‘side’.

My inspiration is Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal. A magazine of science fiction and fantasy with a much more adult spin to its writing and imagery than much of what we otherwise have. It’s long been an ambition of mine to produce genuinely adult oriented material for games and I have frequently been frustrated that the only means to examine these aspects is through humour. People get giggly and sophomoric (or outraged) – or will only accept giggly and sophomoric materials on these subjects and I think that’s a pity. I won’t use the space to preach about this but it’s an opportunity to test the waters and to treat the audience as adults, for once.

I had the opportunity to pick anyone I wanted to work with on this project and I chose Satine Phoenix. I wanted to work with Satine on another adult project that ended up being delayed due to problems with Paypal and CC processors.

I felt very much that I had let her down by allowing that project to be delayed and I wanted to make it up to her. I also know how hard it can be to change careers and thought that I might, in some small way, be able to help. Above all of that, however, is the simple fact that I like Satine’s art. Her clean lines and stylised figures are reminiscent of Don Bluth’s style and I like the tension between the cartoonish style and the form of the content is perfect for the feel of the project I want to produce.

You’ll get an adventure, you’ll get great art, you’ll get a springboard and toolkit for your own campaigns and adventures and you’ll help two people do the kind of stuff they’ve always wanted to do. Like my own project the amount of money involved not only guarantees Raggi’s eye for quality but the time for both me and Satine to do the best possible job and to have enough time to make it truly great.

What’s not to love?


Review: Vornheim

I know people have reviewed Vornheim but to my point of view it’s not, particularly, a book that can be reviewed. It’s more like a work of art or an experience. Like being hooked up to a fire hose of creativity or a cut-up.

There’s only something like 65 pages but it’s dense with material, ideas and inspiration. Even the dust jacket is thrown into use as is the cover of the book itself. There isn’t a corner that isn’t used.

It has a contents but I think it’s best experienced as something to dip in and out of for inspiration. It’s weird, strange and just right for the weirder end of the horror-fantasy that fits Lamentations of the Flame Princess in particular.

There’s a lot of ‘city books’ out there, lists of people, places and things and these can be good but the sheer degree of detail can make them practically unusable unless you play in them often enough for everyone to learn the layout of the fictional city.

The old Night City for Cyberpunk 2020 worked for that but Vornheim takes a better approach, in my opinion, being more of a tool kit, an urban fantasy resource. It provides the main locations but only inspiration and ideas for the other aspects. Vornheim creating the ‘feel’ of the city, rather than its geography. Just as Paris or London have a character all of their own, so does Vornheim and even if you don’t use Vornheim itself, a similar approach can work wonders for any other city you care to create.

I think Zak Smith and the D&D With Porn Stars crew are one of the best things to happen in gaming for a while. A fresh approach and a new perspective, paradoxically tied into the Old School movement. Long may they continue to provide us with cool shit to play with and fresh perspectives.

Style: 5
Substance: 3
Overall: 4