#AprilTTRPGmaker Favourite game you’ve worked on?

dd-35-eberron-city-of-stormreach-1-638.pngIt’s hard to pick just one and it’s also hard to decide upon what criteria I should judge which is my favourite. Some systems are a joy, some a chore. Some backgrounds, likewise. It can be fun to create something new and it can be fun to work on something with a lot of reach. It can be great to turn a property from its form as a book, film or comic into a game. Each game has its own microcosm of different factors and can be a favourite in a different way.

I’ve worked on Dungeons and Dragons and that’s quite a feather in your cap (at least when you’ve worked directly for Wizards) but the various incarnations of D&D, even 5th Edition, just really aren’t my cup of tea and while I enjoy Dark Sun and Planescape, the more vanilla fantasy settings and ideals typical of D&D are frustratingly hackneyed and cliche (not that that’s bad, it’s just hard and not that enjoyable to write for).

Breathing new life into BLOOD! was fun, an old, relatively obscure horror game that we always loved, but it wasn’t really ‘mine’.

Agents of SWING was a passion project, and I enjoy writing for FATE (though less so the current edition). Working together all the threads of the action/adventure series of the 60s and 70s was a fun challenge.

imageWorking on SLA Industries was great and I and Dave Allsop had good synergy and mutual understanding in the work I did for SLA. Unfortunately that joy has been lessened by falling out with one of the other people involved and the semi-butchering of the main book I did for them. A similar thing – editorial interference I didn’t like – happened in work I did for Call of Cthulhu.

Creating the semi-official Neverwhere RPG, adding to the lore and ideas, creating an innovative system and then giving the whole shebang away for free (terms of the agreement) was a huge amount of fun and that game – in its third edition – may be my most favourite, if least profitable, thing I’ve ever done.

But then, there’s still the tentacle porn…

#RPG Some old, free games you might want.

NevercoverJust a reminder of these old games that exist.

The third – and probably final – edition of the Neverwhere RPG, produced with permission and available for PDF only. This is the final, comprehensive edition of the game with an improved system, more detail an expanded A-Z and advice for running the game in tabletop, online or as a LARP.

Neverwhere has been a massively influential book on my life since it first came out and a touchstone novel I return to again and again. Especially the section on Blackfriars.

Free to download


106454A personal game about depression and its effects intended to help people with invisible illnesses broach the subject and explore it in a way they can have power over it.

ImagiNation is set after the fall of mainland Britain to a strange reality breakdown. The barriers between imagination and reality, dreams and nightmares have shattered and strange things dreamed up by people caught in the event teem across the land.

Only those who are already ‘broken’ can hope to cope with exploring, understanding and combatting this strangeness for the sake of the huddled refugees that sit and wait and watch from the smaller islands around the coast.

A game of mental illness and art using The Description System (Neverwhere).

This game is available FREE so please promote, download, host and spread as far and wide as you can.

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Neverwhere: How Shellfish (Adventure Seed)


The passages between London Above and London Below have been getting choked up and closed off for a while. Travellers have been finding it harder and harder to get from one version of London to another. Approaching the join between the two worlds the air seems to thicken and solidify. Up until recently people have been able to push through but now, one by one, every way to or from London Above is sealing shut… sealing shut with a mass of dripping, foul-smelling shellfish.

Lord Ratspeaker, being one of the most influential and important of the forces to deal regularly with London Above is offering a reward, lessons in Ratspeaking and The Catskin Windcheater (a comforting artefact of some value) to whatever bravo, hero or adventurer can find out what is going on and put a stop to it.


London Zoo has its own mirror below with many strange an ‘altered’ animals within it. One of those animals is a Slow Loris, called Boris, which despite having the feeble body of a tree-dwelling curiosity has the mind of an evil genius, albeit one that’s quite, quite mad. Incoherent and ranting, evaisive to a fault Boris has still somehow, along with his shabby human host (once one of the zookeepers) been able to come up with a terrible scheme.

He paid a band of pirates from the Thames to retrieve an artefact from New York Below, a length of chain once used to blockade the Hudson from British ships during the revolutionary war. He has now enchanted this to turn it into a blockade between the worlds and has employed Hammersmith to turn a couple of links of the chain into a myriad of tiny keys, that will allow passage, for a price.

As the players come into the adventure he’s still waiting for the entries and exits to be blocked off and plans to start selling his ‘Oyster Keys’ at the next Floating Market (two days hence at Trafalgar Square).

The Nautical nature of the shellfish blockades, as well as being a horrible pun, should hopefully get the players on the trail via the pirates and other forces on the Thames, eventually leading them to the evil mastermind, Slow Boris.


  • Slow Boris never gives a straight answer.
  • Slow Boris will deny any involvement, the keys are just his solution to the problem. You should be grateful.
  • The Shellfish Barricades rapidly demand more and more in payment as the days go by.
  • Trade between above and below rapidly starts to tail off and London Below depends on London Above for many things, plus the Market is held there.
  • The Mayor of New York Below has sent his best bravos, twins, New York, New York to retrieve the chain and they have a very… American, enthusiasm for dealing with obstacles.

Slow Boris

Slow Boris is a small, furry, big-eyed Loris. He is excellent at climbing and a genius at magic. While tiny and weak, his mind is brilliant, incisive and long-sighted. The only trouble is that he’s a gibbering, incoherent madman.

New York & New York

A pair of imposing wiseguys in dirty sailor suits, New York and New York always work as a pair, finishing each other’s sentences. Great fighters, terrifying intimidators and good sailors, they are often the muscle that the Mayor of New York Below goes to in order to get things done. Competent and professional they are fond of violence and a little too ready to resort to their fists. Big, tough and scarred, they can take a lot of punishment and keep on coming.


ImagiNation Preview/Discussion

So, I have a new game that uses the same system as Neverwhere. That system never really had a name but the way it works is based upon a descriptive paragraph. A character might, then, be described:

Taylor is thin and wan, she looks tired much of the time and as though she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. Quiet and thoughtful she takes her time before answering any questions or executing any plan of action. Since the loss of the mainland she’s been forced to get fit and has learned to trust her intuition. She was a professional estate agent before everything went bad but she always had a great talent for poetry.

When you come to try to do something you go up against the description of your opponent or the challenge, work out what applies and roll off against it. This works a lot like Aspects in FATE or the traits in 6D6, even though it pre-dates both and took its initial inspiration from Vampire LARP and specialities.

ImagiNation goes beyond the existing Neverwhere game by allowing characters to directly interface with the descriptive system via their special abilities. Using these powers you will be able to play directly with descriptions, add to them, remove them, change them and thus to shift the world around you.

The premise of ImagiNation is one where the barrier between reality and fantasy, the physical and the imaginary, law and chaos, order and madness has broken down. A sort of psychic, memetic virus has spread throughout the population on the British mainland and reality has warped and twisted according to the whims and imaginations of those caught up in it.

Britain has all but vanished as a nation beneath this psychic cloud (The Monad) and all that remains is an isolated and quarantined rump of the lost nation, huddled on islands surrounding the mainland, cut off from the rest of the world by aerial and naval blockade.

Only those who were already damaged or creative are immune to the psychic effects and are used to venture into the madness to try and understand it, disarm it, deal with it and find a cure, supplies, information or useful samples, or just to deal with the worst imaginings of the lost populace.

Those who are able to venture ‘safely’ into the insane wonderland are able to manipulate the plastic reality of the nation according to their artistic talent and temperament or their pre-existing insanity.

A poet, for example, might be able to exchange words in a description for ones that rhyme with them or are alliterative. An artist might be able to draw something on a wall and make it real (a door for example). Someone with a controlled level of schizophrenia might find that their voices become real and offer insight and advice that is actually useful.

On my old blog I ran a poll game called ‘Patient Zero’ and many of these ideas stem from that same thought process and set of ideas.

I’m looking forward to showing it to you, especially with Aaron’s excellent art.

General Update

What ho chaps and chapettes?

Quick update as to what’s going on lately…

I’m mostly working very hard on Outbreak and I crave your indulgence while I beaver away on that as it’s going to get in the way of a lot of other work that I’m doing. Outbreak is an Interactive Fiction game project that’s planned to come out across social and mobile media, all being well. It’s a lot of work and it needs to be good as money’s dependant on the success of the project.

Several short projects are in process to come up, Irrepressible! (based on Journey to the West), Lady Bexington’s Home for Wayward Zombies (a cheap board game produced in a similar manner to the 6-Packs),  ImagiNation (a weird post-apocalyptic Britain using the Neverwhere rules), Autopsy 4 and some clipart in the pipeline for when our sale finishes and a couple of other projects I’m not ready to announce yet.

Also in process are – still – Gosh, Spies! for Agents of SWING (Our teen-tween adventurer supplement with a focus on girl characters), Nefarious! also for Agents of SWING. We’ll also be bringing you more 6-Packs and, eventually, collected editions of those adventures. We may also be dipping into campaigns in the future, given the reasonable reception of our adventures.

Please bear with August was a tough month due to two illnesses and Outbreak is going to take up most of my time for the next month or two. There’s a lot of catching up to do and things are going to be done, when they’re done, possibly with little warning.

Keep a special eye out for Doxy – part of the history farce series – and Camelot Kosmos, arthurian fantasy amongst the stars.

Neverwhere: Barnet Fair


Barnet is a famous and talented hairdresser in London below. She’s a plastic-fantastic lovely with an enormous and breathtaking beehive hairdo and the greatest in 60s fashion. She’s considered unapproachable to most in London Below, one of the great beauties of the whole underside around the world and a woman who is more interested in hair than men, women or… ‘misc’.

Lord Lepus of the down-on-its-luck Hare Court has his hopelessly romantic heart set upon Barnet even though she is completely out of his league. He has no wealth to speak of any longer, his nobility is diminished and his talent is really only for begging money, not for wooing. He’ll need help in a Cyrano de Bergerac style and that’s where the players come in. About all Lepus has left to trade is his small estate which may make a good basis for an ambitious group of characters looking to make a more permanent mark on the underside. He’s willing to give it up, if they can get him into Barnet’s good graces.

They may try any number of ways to get through to her for him, extolling his virtues, poetry, presents but really all Barnet cares about is hair and 60s fashion and getting something wonderful that fits in with those criteria is how they might get through to her. What would really, really, really win her over though would be reconciling her with her estranged and distant sister, Fair Barnet (or Barnet Fair). A woman as beautiful as Barnet herself but an avatar of the other half of the 1960s, the bare-foot, flowers in your hair, flowing golden natural locks and long, flowing dress type.
Barnet Fair left London below to go and live in Brighton, which has a small underside of its own. She lives in a beach hut, a permanent fixture of The Brighton Fringe and she is doted on and lusted after by Hove, a blue-skinned giant who spends his days hurling things back into the sea. Or just into the sea if he doesn’t like them. His love for Barnet Fair is unrequited and painful to him and he won’t want her to leave. Not that Barnet Fair wants to leave anyway. She and her sister had a terrible falling out in 1967 and she’s grown to hate her sister despite her hippy sensibilities, as only sisters can.
It’ll take a while and some heroic wooing attempts before Barnet will let slip about regretting falling out with Barnet Fair and only then can the characters try to bring Barnet Fair back and win over the lovely Barnet.
Of course, the problem then is that the fickle Lepus falls head over heels, immediately, for Barnet Fair.
Tch, men.

Barnet is tall and beautiful, painfully sarcastic and extremely strong willed. Her tongue is extremely sharp and she is completely tactless, able to destroy someone’s self image with a single ill thought out remark. Her fingers are slender and extremely nimble and she is a legend of 
hairdressing and fashion, albeit with a tendency to the kitsch.
Lord Lepus is a hopeless romantic and desperately poor. Despite this he knows he is blue-blooded and retains a small estate, even if it is run down. He still carries himself with noble bearing even though the only way he can keep himself going is through his mastery of high class panhandling. Lepus has a knack for jumping, up to fifty feet at a time.

Hove is an enormous, massive, incredibly strong man, a brute with uncommon power and almost impervious to pain. A master brawler he has long been the guardian of Brighton’s underside and his accuracy and distance at throwing are legendary. Accurate to a fault when he does throw things, or people, he has the knack of the seven league throw.


Neverwhere 3rd Edition Released!

The third – and probably final – edition of the Neverwhere RPG, produced with permission and available for PDF only. This is the final, comprehensive edition of the game with an improved system, more detail an expanded A-Z and advice for running the game in tabletop, online or as a LARP.

Download it HERE

Make sure to buy something that actually gives me money while you’re there too, don’t forget Schlocktoberfest is still going!

Neverwhere: Commentary Viewing

So yesterday I watched Neverwhere again, with the commentary on, listening to Neil Gaiman ‘bibbling on’ about it. Most of which seemed to consist of him bitching about the BBC in various ways and complaining about scenes that were cut and that they insisted on lighting for film but shooting for video.

Dude, chill, it’s an excellent and beloved book and series and even if the locations – despite being real – ended up looking ‘fake’ it only added to the dream-like surreality of the series and, in my opinion for what it’s worth, added to the overall feel of the series.

Amongst other details I hadn’t necessarily been aware of before:

  • The Velvets sleep together, hanging upside, in a hall somewhere and emerge at night, mysteriously, as though from out of nowhere, just like the real beautiful Goth Girls of London! (apart from the sleeping upside down in a hall bit).
  • There’s a whole Wizard of Oz theme going through it that I somehow completely missed – probably due to not being much of an Oz fan. Can I use this?
  • The Black Friars names are all something to do with the colour black.
  • The Ordeal was meant to end with a tube train full of dead bodies/ghosts of the previous failures – this DOES appear in the Graphic Novel.
  • Islington was intended to be androgynous – again, this does happen in the Graphic Novel.
  • Stockton is meant to be – ‘Rupert Murdoch, only worse.’
  • The Great Beast of London is meant to be the Great Boar of London, based on a real story – which I think is in Stephen Inwood’s ‘A History of London’ – which is a fine book. I know I’ve read the real story somewhere.
  • Hunter was meant to be more seductive, hidden strength, hidden power, that’s why Richard mistakes her for a hooker. She was never meant to be so blatant.
  • Iliaster – The homeless man who helps Richard to the Ratspeakers, was a noble, perhaps even a king, long ago.
  • The Ratspeakers are meant to have much more rat-like traits, more like Anaesthesia confronting Ruislip, less like a Royal Shakespeare performance.
  • They used The Clink a lot – worth looking into even though it’s not actually mentioned.
  • The Marquis de Carabas was meant to be bald and the character was written pretty much as Neil’s take on Doctor Who would be. Patterson Joseph was definately robbed of the role!
  • Neverwhere was almost entirely shot on location.

Neverwhere 3rd Edition – Re-watching the Series (First time)

So, I re-watched the 1996 series the other day. It’s amazing, and frightening, to think of how many years ago that was now. Overall, the film has held up well, in no small part due to being set amongst timeless craziness and homeless squalor that doesn’t age so badly as high octane, high fashion series. The only thing that sets it in the past like that are the mobile phones which are, mercifully, only briefly seen. Seeing it again floods me with nostalgia, laying in bed watching the series with my girlfriend at the time, time spent in London at the Electric Ballroom or around Camden, which frankly often looked like The Floating Market at the time and many of the extras in the market scenes are people I recognise from those days!

The series takes a lot of flak for being like the Old Style Doctor Who, shaky sets and so on. Personally I found it still looked really good and the restrictions of budget and the type of cameras used gave it a sort of honest verisimilitude that makes it seem more real and helps me suspend my disbelief. Really the only thing that lets it down terrible are the fight scenes which are poorly cut and choreographed. Even though they’re not meant to be high-flying wire-fu spectaculars and there’s not many of them, they really do make poor Hunter look dappy.

I managed to find a few little details I missed before and which I’ll now incorporate into the game A-Z, so it was useful and also reminded me what a tour-de-force the performances for Croup and Vandemar were. Now I need to re-watch it again with the commentary on. I also found myself a DVD player with a very good screen-capture capability. I’m not going to use screen caps for the new book, but it does give me the opportunity to really peruse the detail of certain scenes, which is very helpful.

Feel free to offer any suggests of places/people that might be found in London Below as some people have!

Neverwhere 3rd Edition – Development Diary

Reading the Graphic Novel
The Graphic Novel (Or trade paperback) version of Neverwhere is the collected edition of DC/Vertigo’s comic series of the book by Mike Carey and Glenn Fabry. You can find it on Amazon HERE.

It’s a strange thing to see a completely new visual take on something that was very much established by the TV series but, fortuntely, Fabry seems to manage to keep his tendency to make everyone over muscled somewhat in check. The overall vision is much more out-and-out fantastical than the TV series – unlimited by the BBC budget obviously – but it loses a little something in that I think, there’s less of a feeling of weirdness at the edges, which is important to Neverwhere in my opinion, and it plunges more directly into a complete, Alice in Wonderland, otherspace.

Particularly jarring, though I don’t know why, is the depiction of Croup and Vandemar who were so very well played in the TV series that it’s hard to see them any other way, though the idea of a Dickensian Fagin and a giant Teddy Boy are great they just don’t quite gel with C&V as written, for me.

This is all good stuff to see as this time around I’ve gone more with the idea of a reinterpretation, especially art-wise, so the approach in the Graphic Novel is a good, cautionary tale to see what’s right and what’s wrong.

All the characters, save those from London Above are much more exaggerated. Door looks like a goth-punk princess rather than a homeless girl and The Marquis is a (literally) black skinned dandy in 18th century finery.

There’s some new bit characters, like Don, sniffing after Jessica, that could be incorporated in and some new ideas like Old Bailey claiming to have been trained by Egon Ronay (to stew Rook? I think not…). Islington is a proper, winged angel and very androgynous, which works well as an image and is more in keeping with ideas of angels, though an angel stripped of its wings is also effectual.

There’s a half dozen extra hints, people and background details that can be worked up into something for the game, so re-reading that’s been quite useful. Onto the book next and my DVD copy of the series should arrive in a day or two!