#RPG #AprilTTRPGmaker – Spelunking in an Ideological Septic Tank

Introduce Yourself
Hi, I’m Grim. I’m an ageing gothabilly, a 20 year veteran of the RPG Industry and I freelance and self-publish. My company is Postmortem Studios.

Describe your work
Stylised and exploratory games that are focussed mostly on genre emulation. I’m neither entirely in the storygame camp nor the traditional game camp. System matters and I like to either choose or create a system best suited to the game in question.

Key to your making process?
Inspiration, whatever grabs my attention at the time. The things that interest me. That can come from films, television, comics, politics, conversation.

Favourite type of game scenario
Dramatic, high stakes, slow build up.

Character or Worldbuilding?
If I’m creating games, then obviously worldbuilding is the primary focus. Characters are for players.

Long or Short RPG texts?
Whatever’s appropriate. I tend to think these unnecessarily huge books are unnecessary. Efficient text, appropriate to what’s required, seems like the best way to go.

How to increase accessibility?
Profit margins are so low that there isn’t really a way to increase accessibility. I am currently recording an audiobook of the 5e SRD, but it’s not exactly setting the world on fire. Generally speaking RPGs are already massively accessible. They’re cost-effective as a form of entertainment, so long as you can read and do basic mathematics you can play and they’re customisable by default.

Favourite Collaberators
I prefer to do everything myself. I’ve had bad experiences with collaberations. Diluted vision, over-enthusiastic editing and being overridden by another participant.

How do your games distribute power amongst the players?
I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

How are your games dismantling colonialism?
The colonial era ended in the mid-to-late 20th century, depending how you define it and what you consider a colony. My games can’t dismantle something that no longer exists, plus – they’re games. They couldn’t anyway. Colonial era fiction and tropes are excellent sources of inspiration for games though, conflict, adventure, exploration. I wouldn’t want to cut myself off from such a rich source of storytelling.

Shoutout an underloved Creator
Venger Satanis has an outlook to games that’s somewhat similar to mine and he gets a lot of unnecessary hate for being such a chill dude.

How to make a work inclusive?
I don’t think a work has to be inclusive, the focus should be on maing a good story. In trying to make games appeal to everyone, or include everyone, you can get a lack of focus and games can become homeogenous, interchangable and dull. Ironically the indie games scene which is often thought of as more inclusive, often has very tightly focussed games that aren’t at all inclusive. Night Witches, for example, is only women. Only soviet women. Only WWII. As mentioned earlier, RPGs are – by their very nature – inclusive and customisable, which is why they’ve always had a very diverse fanbase, albeit with a predominance of nerdy men.

TL;DR – RPG design doesn’t have to be inclusive, it doesn’t necessarily make for better games. People can play things other than themselves – and should. That’s the whole point.

Participate in Streamed Games?
It can be difficult due to timezones and commitment issues, but I do run them. WFRP at the moment.

How are your game mechanics and characters intersectional?
They’re not? Intersectionality descends into oppression olympics and I can’t see how game mechanics or character generation would have any crossover with intersectionality. Intersectionality would inevitably mean a dilution and dispersal of story tropes, and if I wanted to make a political point it would undermine it. The closest I get is Privilege Check, which is designed to demonstrate the flaws in intersectionality.

Favourite Tropes to Subvert?
My work’s mostly more about expressing those tropes. They’re a powerful set of storytelling tools and undermining them all the time can backfire (see The Last Jedi). The closest I get is, I suppose, trying to challenge people to examine their presuppositions, as in The Little Grey Book.

How does your environment inform your work?
I live in an idyllic countryside setting, close to the landscapes that inspired Tolkien, Lewis and Adams (Watership Down). So my work rebels as a reaction to that by tending to the post-apocalyptic, the urban, the horrific. I don’t tend to like traditional fantasy or the glamourisation of the agrarian life.

How does your identity inform your work?
I don’t really know what’s meant here. ‘Identity’ seems to mean something different to me than it would seem to to the author of this challenge. Sexuality, gender, race, these aren’t things I regard as identity. Identity – to me – is more what you do than who you are. I find the other approach rather bigoted and judgemental. My work is influenced by some of my innate traits, but that’s different to identity. I self-identify as a rebel, a libertine and a challenger of orthodoxy and that influences much more.

What are some underlying messages in your work?
Individualism, cooperation, mutualism, voluntarism, anti-identitarianism, creativity, sexuality, freedom, free-thinking.

Favourite themes to explore?
Sexuality, ethics, alternative cultures and assumptions, the primacy of fun.

A game you want to make that you think no-one would play?
Well I thought that about Gor, but it has been rather popular. I kind of think nobody will want to play Actual Fucking Monsters when it comes out, because it’s a game you always lose, but we’ll see.

What external factors do you struggle with to create?
An increasingly intolerant, authoritarian and censorious social atmosphere that insists on everything being ‘woke’, and the constant attacks, lies and misrepresentations from that sphere. I mean, just look at these questions!

How are you working to improve the RPG industry?
Resisting the incursions of censorious authoritarians, just as I did during the Satanic and Vampire Panics.

Mentoring/Being Mentored by?
I mentor a few people, I offer paid consultations for new indie RPG makers.

Favourite RPG thing to create?
The setting.

A rad diversity consultant?
No such animal. Pointless parasites.

Favourite Online Community?
My Discord.

How do you market your work?
Who on Earth has a marketing budget in this industry? Blog posts, social media, word of mouth and obliging moral entrepreneurs.

What tools help you create?
Critics ­čśŤ

Exciting 2019 RPG trends?
Boutique games perhaps? I’m not sure exactly in what way that’s exciting, it could be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s interesting at least.

If you were in charge of the RPG industry, what would you change?
Even more robust pushback against the moral entrepreneurs and their gatekeeping. RPGs should be open and available to everyone, but no individual game has to be for everyone.

Postmortem Studios Update 1st March 2019

It’s March, and that means mad March hares, aggressive duck sex in the back garden and the feeling that the year has finally, actually started and one should get on with things. So it goes.

There’s a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ stuff going on that is already interfering with the projects I had planned, albeit in the best way. There’s a possible new computer game project I might be writing for, a couple of guest writers for the few Gorean Adventures and the new store continues to gain traction. Actual Fucking Monsters continues at a reasonable pace in spite of the interruption – I’m currently working on a nice big section of suggested monster powers. I’m also looking to get Alice Through the Garbage Grinder edited late spring/early summer – so there’s some new fiction to look forward to.

In addition to all that I am (slowly) creating an audio version of the 5th Edition D&D SRD, which will be hosted first on my Youtube channel, and then made available as an mp3 audiobook.

Things are productive, even if they don’t necessarily look it.

First things first, do be sure and go and check out our new online store. I’d love to see the majority of our sales shift to that channel, where I’ll also be offering a limited number of ’boutique’ items, physical products, second-hand gaming material and more.

There’s a mailing list you can sign up to there too, to hear when we have something new out, like our new Metacard, roleplay encouragement system. You can also get cheeky discounts by signing up.

The ever-lovely Anna Cherry of Erinyes Angels has modelled some of our t-shirts, so look forward to seeing more of that coming along! I’d love to work with more cosplayers and nerdosphere models of all genders, so if you’d like to model or pose for other products, get in touch.

If you like the shirts, you can get them at Teespring. Anna Cherry’s not included, separate purchase necessary.

So where does that leave various projects?

  • Unfortunately, the person I had pegged for the Zelart Scholarship had to drop out and couldn’t deliver a final piece due to an injury. I’ll be doing a separate update on this for you.
  • Actual Fucking Monsters should be written by the end of the month, I’m not sure if I need more art for it or not, so it may be out at that time.
  • I have to devote some time and energy to this potential computer game project.
  • The SRD will be recorded as and when I have the time, but I do intend to see it through to the end.

#RPG – MetaCards – System-Neutral Roleplaying Prompts RELEASED!

GET THEM HERE´╗┐

MetaCards provide a means to encourage roleplay and verisimilitude in your TTRPG games.

GET THEM HERE

MetaCards are a generic system that can be overlaid on top of any other game system.

The cards provide prompts to roleplay in a certain way. The players can then represent a certain mood or perform certain actions that can provide verisimilitude for games that are designed to seem ‘real’, or thematic cues for games that are more narratively focused.

The players are encouraged to follow the cards by a small, mechanical, near-universal bonus. Decks can be customised with prompts specific to your group or campaign if you’re seeking to encourage a specific kind of roleplay. You could customise the deck to prompt players in a horror game to do stereotypical horror-movie things, or those in a romantic fantasy game to engage with the romantic preconceptions of that genre.

This is meant to be introductory, allowing you to take the concept and run with it for your own games.

GET THEM HERE

Hardcopies of the MAIN DECK and BLANK BOOSTERS will be available at TheGamecrafter.com

#RPG – Actual Fucking Monsters

I’m currently working on a couple of things, Metacards (systemless RP prompts to encourage roleplay and verisimilitude) and Actual Fucking Monsters,┬ámy spasm of disgust against the humanisation of monsters and the ‘pussification’ of vampires, werewolves and other monstrosities, inspired in part by Nightbreed (Cabal) and intended as a reaction to the lack of actual fucking horror present in most modern horror RP, TV series, films and so forth.

Rules can only do so much, the way you play a game – or are encouraged to – can also make a huge difference. In the advice section I lay out five ‘pillars’ that are meant to guide playing Actual Fucking Monsters.

Push the Envelope
Every player, including the Games Master, should be seeking to push the envelope of horrific and stomach-churning action that takes place in the game. In a time when so many games are bending over backwards to be overly considerate about people’s feelings and to protect them, this is meant to be like a roller coaster or a horror film. It’s meant to terrify and disgust each other – for fun.

There are Consequences
Everything you do in the game will come back to bite you on the arse in some way. You eat a child to fill your satiation? The mother tracks you down, even when the police give up. People see your monstrous visage and it goes viral on the internet. The sheriff comes after you, then the state police, then the feds, then monster hunters and witch burners. Everything you do comes back.

There is no Redemption
This isn’t a story about redemption or a cure. There is no spiritually pure path and probably no insight into the lore of your people. It is a downward spiral into despair and death and an inevitable bad-ending. This is Near Dark, not Interview with the Vampire.

Everyone is Awful
Nobody is good or pure or nice in this world. Every cop is a womaniser, a racist or an alcoholic. Every parent beats their children or never sees them. Every friend is a betrayer, every lover will cheat on you, everyone is out for themselves or out to get you. If you scratch the surface there’s nothing but darkness beneath.

Everyone Dies
There’s no ‘winning’ in this game. There’s no grand adventure. The world is reactive to everything you do and eventually, it all catches up to you. That’s the story here, and you ‘win’ by being an antihero, transgressing morality, pushing buttons and dying a spectacular death.

#RPG – Postmortem Studios Update Jan-Feb 2019

Don’t forget you can get discounts on our work by subscribing to support us at Patreon, Subscribestar or Minds.com.

Firstly and most importantly we are seeking entrants to the Darkzel Art scholarship

Hello everyone, I hope you are all doing well? It’s lovely and snowy here for the first (and possibly only) time this year. We don’t get that many snowy winters any more so I’m enjoying it as much as possible.

It’s a new year and that’s usually a time of setting out plans and ideas. So I’m going to do just that.

Firstly and most importantly we are seeking entrants to the Darkzel Art scholarship.

DARKZEL SCHOLARSHIP´╗┐

We have a $500 fund to give away to a deserving genre artist. That is, anyone in art education (college or university) or hard-up in some way (functionally homeless, transitioning, long-term unemployed or otherwise struggling. If you’re not sure if you qualify, you almost certainly do).

This prize money will be distrubuted (preferably by Paypal) at the end of February. So you have until the 28th of February to submit your argument as to why you should be supported, and a sample of your art.

Some quick guidelines:

  • Any submissions need to be 300-600 dpi and 1/4 page (US Letter or A4).
  • Black and white or colour is acceptable and will not affect your chances.
  • Awards are decided on a combination of talent and necessity.
  • You MUST be a genre artist, that is SF, fantasy, horror and so forth.
  • You may submit multiple pieces.
  • Your art will be re-sold as stock art, giving you exposure (I know…) and the opportunity to work with other RPG companies, as well as helping to fund next year’s prize.
  • If you want to help you can donate art in support of the project, donate money for next year’s fundraiser and you can spread the word.
  • Entries and additional information grim@postmort.demon.co.uk

POSTMORTEM STUDIOS WEBSTORE


Yes, I’m going to be talking about this a LOT.

I have a brand-shiny-new web store set up at POST-MORT.COM which you should all bookmark and to which I’m going to try and drive more and more sales to get out from under the censorship problems and cost associated with using third parties such as Onebookshelf.

I’m also hoping to provide a home for risque, edgy and other badwrongfun material on my site while taking a relatively small percentage (compared to existing sites). This is not a ‘doors thrown open’ thing, but feel free to approach me if you make horror/risque/edgy or otherwise thematically appropriate material (audio, video and fiction/non-fiction too) and we’ll see what we can work out.

WORK PLANS

Last year was a bit piecemeal, which got a fair bit done – more than I would otherwise have managed – but wasn’t especially satisfying.

I’ve also learned to be a little bit less of a control freak and to let other people play with my babies. The Gor adventures that have resulted – built around skeletal outlines and ideas from me – have sold fairly well, and paid for themselves in terms of the extra cost incurred to make them. That being the case I’m likely to continue in that vein, and perhaps open up other support material projects to others.

I don’t want to write cheques my arse can’t cash, so anything that isn’t ‘done’ or ‘in production’ you can’t guarantee to happen any time soon. That said…

Complete or ‘In-Process’

  • Fantasy/Satire Novella: Alice through the Garbage Grinder
  • Horror/Death spiral RPG: Actual Fucking Monsters
  • Video Education/Advice Course: Grim’s Guide to RPG Publishing
  • Videocast: Inappropriate Characters (this will continue to be built this year)
  • More adventures for Tales of Gor.
  • Metacards: A roleplaying and verisimilitude enhancement system for any RPG.
  • Regularly streamed games at Postmortem Video, probably starting with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition.

Almost Certainly Upcoming this Year

  • Modern Horror RPG: BLOOD! 3rd Edition.
  • Kung-Fu and Sixguns RPG: Setting Sun.
  • Grimdark – A set of ‘hardcore’ and nasty rules for 5e D&D.
  • As yet unnamed, necropolis ‘megadungeon’ for 5e D&D, this will be crowdfunded.
  • Thematic ‘RPG Tools’ sets – dice, dice tray, dice bag etc along particular themes and styles.

OPPORTUNITIES & SERVICES

There are opportunities to work with or for Postmortem Studios on various projects and services or assistance that we can offer.

Opportunities

  • We are looking for writers familiar with the D6 system (OpenD6, WEG Star Wars) and the Gorean works of Jon Norman to continue to provide engaging and knowledgable supplementary material.
  • We need t-shirt models to help with promotions and sales of our line of apparel and would like to have more cooperation with cosplayers and the broader nerd-sphere fanbase.
  • Got a game to promote? Want to discuss topics around RPGs, games, nerd media or want to argue with me about them? Great, get in touch and we’ll do a livestream to talk about these things on Postmortem Video.
  • Artist? We can help you sell your stock art to the RPG publishing community.
  • Sell edgy/dark/risque or gonzo games or fiction? We’re looking to add you to our storefront.

Services

  • Basic editing/readability service.
  • Book trailers and video advertisements for your games/books.
  • Voiceover work.
  • RPG Industry/Game Design/Sales consultancy.
  • Freelance writing, copy writing, game design.
  • Ebook covers – Many people create very simplistic covers with terrible font choices and don’t make the most of the art they use. Even five minutes of professional oversight can give you a much more attractive and professional looking cover.

#RPG – Market Research – Thematic Play Sets

What would you be willing to pay for a complete, coordinated set of RPG accessories/tools?

Would include:

  • Complete polyhedral dice set (Metal)
  • Dice bag
  • Foldable rolling tray
  • Deck of cards
  • Tokens

ANSWER HERE