Machinations of the Space Princess, RELEASED!

Machinations of the Space Princess is a Science-Fantasy role-playing game. That means it’s very much about style over substance, mixing science-fiction, magic and
psionics in a game world that owes much more to Metal Hurlant and Star Wars than it does to 2001 or Bova’s Grand Tour. This is a game of strangeness and fun, of space
pirates and beautiful alien princesses, of living planets and robot hordes, of blasters at noon.

This is…

Sexy, sleazy, swords and sci-fi!

A full game combining old and new school thinking, packed with GM and player advice and with simple tools for creating your own monsters, adversaries, weapons, armour, ships and alien races.


This is the PDF only, the hardcopy will not be available until after the IndieGoGo sponsors have been sent their copies.


MotSP: Character Creation and Gear Alpha Draft


‘ere, download this crap and ‘ave a butchers.

MotSP Character Creation α Draft

MotSP: What gear & Weapons Would you like to see?

Samus.Aran.full.445460I have – provisionally – finished both the introduction and the character creation sections. Though both are still going to be subject to edits and changes and additions as I carry on. The next section to tackle is all the money, gear, equipment, armour, ships, vehicles and weapons.

D&D was in no small part a big success due to ripping off ideas left and right, hobbits and Vancian magic just being the most obvious. So I have absolutely no shame in ‘stealing’ ideas from all over the shop to put into MotSP.

What are some of your favourite devices, weapons, space ships, vehicles etc taken from Science Fiction/Science Fantasy comics, films, books and all points in between?

What have you seen in the genre that you thought was jaw-droppingly cool? What kinds of devices, doodads and weapons have you always wanted to see?

Splurge at me, I want to hear them ALL! Don’t worry if someone’s already mentioned them. Give me YOUR list of wicked-cool stuff.


MotSP: Face the Princess



Satine’s startin’ to get busy.

Machinations: Progress Update

Today was my first day of full work on Machinations, even though it ended up being a half-day due to con-plague that came back from the dead and attacked my GI tract with the force of a thousand Galfraxian Death-Bots. I still managed half a day which meant I got my notes ‘organised’* and broke ground on the introduction. A lot of that’s standard boiler-plate stuff. The OGL, who I am, what Postmortem is, who Satine is etc.

These kinds of introductions are pretty standard in most games but I made a few key decisions that will influence how the writing unfolds and the changes and choices I make along the way. I know some people are interested in the design process so I’m going to lay these out here for you.

Old School Vs Indie

Stupid dichotomy since the OSR movement is self-published and as indie as you get. However, much like 80s/90s music the term ‘Indie’ has taken on a specific meaning in games and tends to mean the more experimental and ‘out there’ concepts and systems. I am neither truly Indie nor am I a traditionalist. My gaming groups have always been total game-whores. We love ‘the new hotness’ and we’ll play anything. I like it like that and as a designer it means my inspirations are many and varied.

I like both.

I think this puts me in a good position to take the best out of both camps, the nostalgia and simplicity of the OSR with some of the narrative flavour, focus and themes to be found in the Indie game scene. I think – perhaps foolishly – that I can meld these together.

The Value of a Gaming Book

The value of a gaming book is, in my opinion, threefold.

  1. The book as an object.
  2. The book as something to read.
  3. The book as game.

The book as an object is going to have more of an eye for design and look than usual and hopefully this will make it a pleasurable object to own whether in physical or PDF form. In meatspace it should be a weighty, nice feeling book thanks to its form factor. It should feel like something solid and powerful – which is what I hope it will be. It will also be beautiful thanks to Satine’s amazing art and she is very invested in and keen on the project which – in my experience – usually means good things!

I will be writing the book in a conversational tone. I want it to be fun to read. I want to pack it with ideas. I want it to be a toolkit and an inspiration. Most of all though, I want you to enjoy reading it. Rules texts can be dry and boring and dull because they have to convey information. I want to – somehow – go beyond that and make it a pleasure to read. I want you to come back to it time and again to read, not just to reference. I promise not to bloat it out with bad fic though!

A gaming book also needs to be practical and to produce good games. It needs to be reasonably easily referenced. So there’ll be references neatly collected in the back and I may even produce character/GM booklets as I did for Agents of SWING. They don’t seem to sell that well but I like ’em, so ner!

Implicit Versus Explicit Setting

A game like D&D, at least in its initial books, has an implicit setting. That is to say nothing is particularly graven in stone, there are no maps, no definitive world facts. You do, however, get an idea for how things are from the monster entries, the magic spells, the art and so on.

Conversely, something like Eclipse Phase is sold as much on its setting as its system. The world is revealed as much through the books as it is through play, new secrets and areas uncovered. Not exactly White-Wolf era metaplot – which is perhaps the apotheosis of such an approach, but a lot of games hinge on their setting.

Machinations has a setting, broadly, loosely, defined in my head but other than a few broad strokes I don’t intend to spell it out in the book. Rather – like D&D – it will be implicit. It will be hinted and steered by the art, the writing, the aliens, the weapons etc. There will be base assumptions in the setting (sexy, sleazy, swords & sci-fi) and its inspirations will be clear to see but an explicit setting isn’t really on the cards.

I think that will free people to pick, choose and create with a freer hand, without feeling bound to canon.

The universe is a huge place and there’s room for billions of adventures without bumping into each other!

*If ‘all in one place can be called organised.

Machinations: Fundraising and Rewards

So, Satine’s back and we’re talking about rewards.

Now, I don’t have the resources or profile of someone like Monte Cook and people are definitely hitting their Kickstarter/IndieGoGo exhaustion limit.

Hopefully there’s still enough goodwill out there and I’m not asking for as much as many projects because I think we can squeeze a great deal of quality out of a more reasonable amount of cash.

I’m not going to think ahead to stretch goals, that’d jinx it, but we’re thinking up extra reward levels and options.

So, here’s a thought. Why don’t YOU let us know what sort of rewards you might like on this project and how much money you’d heft out of your pocket to get it. We’ll see what we can do about it making them – or something like them – a reality in order to wrangle money out of you!


Machinations: Classes

Machinations is going to be pared down to four character classes and without racial character classes. Races will modify/add specific special capabilities instead. You can see that in one of the previous articles.

I may mess around with the names to find something more evocative and interesting, if you have any preferences please chime in!

Should start having some sketches and art progress to show you soon. Meanwhile…


The Fighter (or Soldier, or Killer, or Weapon) is absolutely deadly. They are omni-competent when it comes to killing, maiming and otherwise harming people, robots, objects and starship. If you want it broken or dead, the fighter is who you want on your team.

Exemplars: Lobo, Riddick, Aeryn Sun, Julie.


The Specialist (or rogue, or expert, or chancer) can either be a jack of all trades or can hone-in and specialise on particular skills and abilities to excel. If your character concept doesn’t fit another niche, this is the one.

Exemplars: Han Solo, Malcom Reynolds, Joe Pineapples, Nova.


The Psion (Mentalist, Psiren or Psilencer) hones and uses their psychic abilities in a wide variety of applications. Different ‘trees’ of psychic ability will be available, at least Telepath and Telekinetic with others potentially being added depending on funds raised and the need for them in the game. An electropath, being able to control and commune with computers/robots might be an interesting way to go as might pyrokinetics. Psions will all have some flaw to compensate and mark them for their power.

Exemplars: Lilith, Anderson, Samara, Worsel.


The scholar (Brainiac, Expert, Factotum or Database) trades on his knowledge. If it needs to be known, deciphered, fixed or otherwise tinkered with your scholar is the one to do it. Scholars delve deep into science, lore, languages and any number of other mysteries and can provide the information and skill necessary to head on to the next big score.

Exemplars: Richard Seaton, Seven, Andromeda, Galen.

Now then…


Machinations: Guns, Blades, Armour and Force Fields

Switching from fantasy to science fiction/science fantasy you run into issues with deadliness, firearms, automatic weapons and the whole panoply of high tech gizmoes, gadgets, sights, bullets and so on and so forth.

You also have to account for more advanced forms of protection while not overdoing the whiff factor or making it too easy to hurt someone the other way.

This ain’t easy.

I haven’t quite decided yet but I’m leaning towards damage reduction for armour and armour class boosting for force-shields/agility. Force shields won’t apply to melee attacks and ranged attacks should find it easier to hit,

I want to keep things as simple as possible but I also want combat to have plenty of options  and to have a universal guideline so players can easily decide what they want to try. Sticking with LotFPs attack guidelines, mostly, this also gives fighters (soldiers) a much greater capacity to pull special attack moves.

Something like a universal -5 penalty no matter if you’re tripping, headshotting, disarming or any other environmental or competency issues. You could then offset that penalty – and even turn it into a bonus – by taking lots of skill levels.

The spirit of ‘old school’ is heavy on the improvisation but by providing a framework you can enable a lot of improvisation from that.

“What’s the penalty for fighting in zero gee?”


“When I levelled last time, I took Zero gee combat once.”

“-4 then.”

Bosh, sorted and fighters/soldiers become a damn sight more interesting all of a sudden 🙂

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.