#RPG – Zelart Scholarship – Alex Mayo

magpiethumbAlex of Penetralia Press was kind enough to help us out with the Zelart Scholarship project by providing some art for us to sell to support next year’s fundraiser.

You can check it out, and a lot more besides HERE. Buying this stock art will help young genre artists in the future, but Postmortem Studios also has a great selection of commercial stock art by Brad McDevitt and a ton of great RPG games and resources. Alex’s work will be being released over the next few days, so keep checking back!



#RPG – Postmortem Studios March Update

205629The image to the left is a fantasy showdown, the latest Clipart Critter stockart from Brad McDevitt.

We’ve got hundreds of pieces by him at affordable prices for your handouts or your own gaming projects.

Please support me via my Patreon – you get discounts for as little as $1 a month.

This month’s discount is on Final Straw, a ‘school shooting’ card game illustrated by Zel. The scholarship I run in his memory has now closed and a winner will be announced within the next few days.

As a loyal follower of this blog, you can also get a discount on BLOOD! this month!


Discount Offer

Back from the grave comes a new edition of Underground Games classic horror RPG, Blood! Appropriately enough rewritten and reconfigured by Postmortem Studios.

The new edition holds over ‘150’ pages of blood, gore, violence, psychopaths, insanity, zombies, vampires, chainsaws, belt sanders, gratuitous injuries and other material to help you create a suitably nasty atmosphere for any type of horror game.

  • Gritty and deadly percentile system to evoke the harsh brutality and fetished violence of the genre..
  • Over 25 maim-worthy critical hit tables.
  • Statistics for household items, tools and many other unconventional items to be used as weapons – almost ‘400’ of them.
  • Almost ’30’ different profession templates, and rules for your own.
  • Rules for insanity, exhaustion and bleeding.
  • Over ’90’ skills.
  • Fantastic art by Gavin Hargest, Darkzel, Bradley K McDevitt and Paul Campion.

Blood! is the unashamed and unflinching horror game for the horror afficiando who wishes to recreate the visceral, stomach-churning horror of the video-nasties of the 70s and 80s as well as their more modern imitators.

You will die, but you will enjoy it.

There’s a lot of supplementary material available for BLOOD! too, so don’t forget to check that out.





Progress continues slow and steady on various projects. Gor – whether the remaining art is ready or not – will come out at the end of this month. There’s simply no more putting it off. This month I have organised writers and artists to form a pool to crack on with the supplementary material.

February was a slow month for sales, but good for freelancing and the expansion of my work into other arenas (consulting etc). I’ll continue to expand my variety of work etc to try and boost my income – some of which will be re-invested into the games!

If you’ve got any freelancing or other work available, do let me know and feel free to look me up on Fiverr or PeoplePerHour as well.


Currently, my 2017 plate is clear (from April) and free for freelancing and consultancy. I’m pretty reliable 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’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.

  • 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.

Recent Products

Chronomancer: A fifth edition character class for a ‘time mage’.

The Alchymyst: A fifth edition character class for an ‘advanced’ alchemist.

Urban Faerie: Gives you Wings: A fun little scenario for Urban Faerie that showcases all the absurdity and fun of Urban Faerie.

Black Mass: A horror scenario for Blood! The adventure plays off the paranoia of the right wing and the naivity of the left to create a hybrid scenario shocking through violence, culture shock and violating various racial conceits. Think of it as an urban Green Inferno.

Sexbots: A supplement for Machinations of the Space Princess detailing sexbots, adding character creation options and fitting them into the implicit setting of MotSP.

Our entire catalogue (other than the newer items) – easier to browse than the online sites can be downloaded for free HERE.

Social Media & Contact

I’m always open to contact, discussion, ideas and more. If you have questions, queries, suggestions or feedback – good or bad – please do get in touch.

Second Hand Books & Old Stock

I have a number of old books and stock available for sale. £5 for small format books, £10 for large format books + shipping (UK only).

100 Conspiracies
Abney Park’s Airship Pirates
Adventurer’s Vault 4e
Agents of SWING: Agent Casefile
Ant Assault (Cardgame)
Black Rock Bandits (4e adventure & Map)
Bloodlust RPG (French)
CTD: Isle of the Mighty
Cthentacle (Hardcopy)
d20 Mecha
Dark Conspiracy: Darktek
Dark Conspiracy: New Orleans
Darktown RPG
Desecration (Pathfinder adventure & map)
DK System (French)
DM’s Guide 2 (4e)
DM’s Guide to Immortals (Basic D&D)
Dog Town RPG
Exalted: Return to the Tomb of Five Corners
Legend of the Five Rings LRP Rules
Mantel D’Acier (French)
MET: Antagonists
MET: Book of the Damned
MET: Dark Epics
MET: Journal No 4
MET: Laws of the East
MET: Laws of the Hunt
MET: Laws of the Hunt Player’s Guide
MET: Laws of the Wild Changing Breeds 1
MET: Laws of the Wild Second Edition
MET: Oblivion (Obilvion)
MET: The Long Night
MET: The Masquerade Second Edition
MET: The Shining Host
Monster Manual 2 4e
MTA: Akashic Brotherhood
MTA: Akashic Brotherhood 1st Edition
MTA: Blood Treachery
MTA: Book of Shadows
MTA: Cult of Ecstacy
MTA: Dreamspeakers
MTA: Initiates of the Art
MTA: Masters of the Art
MTA: Progenitors
MTA: Sons of Ether
MTA: The Book of Chantries
MTA: The Loom of Fate
MTA: Verbena
MTA: Void Engineers
Ninjas & Superspies RPG
Palladium The Mechanoids (Rifts Sourcebook 2)
Player’s Handbook 2 4e
Red Box Basic D&D
The Sting (Pathfinder adventure & map)
Traveller New Era: Fire Fusion & Steel
V:TM 2nd Edition
Victoriana 1st Edition
VTM: A World of Darkness
VTM: Berlin by Night
VTM: Blood Bond
VTM: Blood Magic, Secrets of Thaumaturgy
VTM: Chicago by Night
VTM: Children of the Inquisition
VTM: Children of the Night x2
VTM: Clanbook Assamite
VTM: Clanbook Brujah
VTM: Clanbook Brujah 1st Edition
VTM: Clanbook Gangrel
VTM: Clanbook Giovanni
VTM: Clanbook Malkavian x2
VTM: Clanbook Nosferatu
VTM: Clanbook Toreador
VTM: Clanbook Tremere
VTM: Clanbook Tremere 1st Edition
VTM: Clanbook Tzimisce
VTM: Elysium
VTM: Followers of Set
VTM: Ghouls, Fatal Addiction
VTM: Guide to the Sabbat
VTM: Midnight Siege
VTM: Milwaukee by Night
VTM: New Orleans
VTM: New York by Night
VTM: Storyteller’s Handbook to the Sabbat
VTM: Storyteller’s Handbook
VTM: Storyteller’s Screen 2nd Edition
VTM: The Anarch Cookbook
VTM: The Hunters Hunted
VTM: The Player’s Guide to the Sabbat
VTM: The Succubus Club
VTM: Time of Thin Blood
VTM: Ventrue
WOD: Blood-Dimmed Tide
WOD: Combat
WOD: Outcasts
WTA: Anansi
WTA: Axis Mundi – The Book of Spirits
WTA: Corax
WTA: Mokole
WTO: The Risen
WTO: The Sea of Shadows


353-383 (two 383’s)
385-734 (two 393’s)

Volume 3



I’m fascinated by other systems for games than using rolling. Rolling is great but other ways of determining the element of chance are also interesting. Cards are a popular one, I think I’ve seen dominoes done, coin-tosses and rock-paper scissors (Mind’s Eye Theatre) was great for impromptu play when you didn’t have your other materials with you. There are also resource management systems too with beads and limited resources to be spent.

I’ve tinkered with bits and pieces of different things around this, sometimes keeping the dice but getting rid of the numerics, sometimes losing the dice. Irrepressible! uses what I – humbly – think is a great system where you draw beads from a bag until your luck runs out. The Description System uses words instead of numerical statistics, even though it does use dice.

I love The Description System because it works really well for modelling narrative importance. The bigger and stronger the description, the bigger and stronger whatever it is in the story. It directly reflects narrative significance in a way that reflects fiction (unless it’s Game of Thrones).

I got thinking, after The Description System and after another – currently aborted project using poker – about other ways to do it. What I like about The Description System is that rather than maths/probability skills being primary it was English skills. I’ve been thinking, purely on a theoretical basis, about other ways to set game rules that work on non-mathematical skills, specifically English. Games can also be great educational tools and again, this has largely been in the mathematics arena. How great to ‘gamify’ vocabulary?

So, what’s a good option?


How could you define a character?

A few defining words that – if used – could count as bonus letters.

Difficulty determined by score or word-length (I don’t think I’d use the board though).

Synergistic words could give extra bonuses. A fire mage using the word ‘hot’ as their play for an action would get extra score or letters. A swordsman using ‘strike’ or ‘hit’ would get the same.

Of course, making easy plays would leave you with difficult letters still in your rack, which makes ‘exhaustion’ and other issues build over time.

Best of all it would be very, very difficult to min-max or game the system and it would include a measure of player skill.

Of course… that might put some people off.

An Adaptive Sandbox

CirclesSandbox games or hex crawls give you a lot of freedom to explore and discover but without a lot of extra effort your characters aren’t going to make a true impact on the world. The sourcebooks – such as Carcosa – present a snapshot of encounters, places, kingdoms, countries, cities. It’s rare – if ever – that anything is built into it to account for the heroic deeds of the adventurers and the effect they might have.

I’ve long sung the praises of the social change mechanics in the old RPG Underground and it is from that seed of inspiration that I grew my GMless story game Colony: Moon.

I can see the potential to mix together elements from:

  • Traveller’s Universal World Profile
  • Hex Crawling
  • Underground’s ‘Make a difference’ mechanics

Mix that all together with a ‘web of influence’ and you might be on to something for an adaptive and reactive game world.

So, say you have a capital city, Aalberg, which rules over an area that includes the port towns of Balsport and Calder and Calder has influence over the villages of Delmar and Eegan.

The characters back a coup d’etat against the King in Aalberg and as a result the political stability of the capital nosedives as does its military strength. We assign it a 50% chance of having a knock on effect and roll.

Balsport doesn’t suffer, perhaps they were never too loyal in the first place.

Calder suffers political instability as a knock on effect. Perhaps it’s a hold-out for loyalists and they’re in open rebellion against the new government. We assign Calder a 33% chance of having a knock-on effect to its surrounding villages.

Delmar suffers, Eegan doesn’t. Rather than spread the instability further we decide that Calder is draining the coffers of the village to prepare for its war effort.

Some sort of program or spreadsheet and a ‘universal settlement profile’ would make this all a lot easier, but as a basic idea framework, I think this has some promise.

ImagiNation Excerpt: Explaining Role-Playing, Again


Odds are that most people reading this already know what a role-playing game is but, as this game is intended to reach out to new gamers as well as old ones, I’m going to take a little more time than usual to explain what a role-playing game is, how they are played and – most importantly – why they’re such good fun.

Role-playing, as a hobby-game, has been around since the mid-seventies and grew out of wargaming. A hobby that is represented in most people’s eyes by Games Workshop and their Warhammer game these days. Role-playing is a little different though. Rather than commanding an army each player takes control of a single character and guides their actions through a story created and refereed by another player called the ‘Games Master’.

This is a lot like playing games of imagination when you’re children. Maybe you shouted out ‘Let’s play Star Wars!’ and then people would take on roles: “I’m Han!” “I’m Chewie!” etc, and then – as kids – you would play out battles or re-play the stories of the film. There are three important differences when it comes to role-playing games.

1: We’re grown-ups now, so we have to justify creative play to ourselves with all sorts of adult structure and waffle.

2: Role-playing games have rules. This helps prevent the sort of “Bang, you’re dead!”, “No I’m not!”, “Yes you are!”, “Nuh huh, I have a forcefield” type arguments we had as children.

3: The characters and stories are our own and, hopefully, somewhat original.

So, how do you play one of these games? That’s actually pretty easy to do, but a lot harder to explain in any meaningful way. If you know anybody who already plays these kind of games then your best bet is to ask to sit in on a game or to get them to explain it to you in person. I’ll do my best to explain below, but one of the main barriers to spreading the hobby is the problem of explaining it.

The Games Master is one of the players. He comes up with the story, the challenges, the opposition that the players who are taking the part of the characters have to face. The Games Master sets the scene, looks after the rules and describes the action. It’s a demanding but rewarding role to take in a game.

The players create and describe their characters. These characters are made according to the rules – given later – and these descriptions determine the bounds of who a character is, what they can do and how good they are at it.

The advantage to The Description System is that so long as you can describe something, you can put it into the game rules. This makes it very easy to pick up and play with very little preparation or number crunching.

Here is how a little bit of one game session might go, we join the game already in progress…

The Games Master Sets the Scene: You emerge from the underground station into the light. You think this must be King’s Cross station – or rather what’s left of it. The station is overgrown, the floors cracked. Vines and creepers sprawl over everything and are festooned with brightly lit and sweetly perfumed flowers. Butterflies and other insects flutter and buzz from flower to flower and vine to vine. It makes the floor hard-going to walk through and here and there knots of thick vegetation block the path.

Kerr (Played by Kyan): “Damn, I’m glad to be out of there. Who knew so many people were afraid of rats on the underground?” Now we’re in the light I brush the dirt off my clothing and check myself for rat bites.

Juliet (Played by Karen): “Don’t relax yet Kerr. Rats make sense at least. We knew what to do about rats. Even giant ones. What’re all these plants about though?” I’ll move to the nearest one and take a closer look.

Games Master: You don’t find any bites you’ve missed but the ones you did take look a bit nasty, angry and red. The flower looks a bit like a bluebell or a snowdrop, but bigger and glowing with a honeyed, inner light. Each flower seems to be a subtly different shade, covering the whole rainbow throughout the station.

Kerr: “I don’t trust it. Pretty things always hide something nasty.” I’ll sit down on the steps and use my first aid kit on my wounds. I don’t want them getting infected.

Games Master: OK, I won’t make you roll for that. Daubing on some iodine or TCP isn’t exactly taxing. It’s probably a good idea though. What about you Karen?

Juliet: “Pretty things always hide something nasty eh? Should I take that personally?” I laugh at Kerr but I know he’s probably right. I’ll keep my hand on my pistol and move a short distance deeper into the station, looking out for trouble.

Games Master: Alright. I’m going to ask you to make a roll to see if you spot anything. Give me a moment. *He tots up the appropriate words and skills from a description of ‘something’ lurking in the station and rolls a dice, getting a four* OK, roll and tell me what you get. You need to beat seven (the roll, plus the opponent’s total).

Juliet: I’m paranoid, that’s usually a bad thing but I want to use it here. I also have a good eye and in our time off between missions I trained up in observation. So that gives me a total of three before I roll. If you’re OK with all of that?

Games Master: Sounds kosher to me.

Juliet: And I roll a five, giving me a total of eight. That beats seven.

Games Master: Distantly, behind the overgrown tangle that used to be the automatic gates, you briefly catch sight of a wild-haired, naked woman carrying a spear. Naked save for three strategically placed fig leaves that is. She ducks back down again, out of sight.

Juliet: What… the… hell… Kerr. Hurry up with what you’re doing. We might have more trouble.

And so the adventure continues…