#RPG – New Podcast Out: Game School


Disclosure: I dare to call Satine my friend, she’s on the podcast, has done some work with me (Machinations of the Space Princess) and I consider her an all-round awesome human being. Plus she’s hotter than jerked Azer. I don’t know Chad Parish from Adam though.

There’s a new podcast series out that is, essentially, a ‘review show’ but the format is something different and awesome.

The hosts (Satine Phoenix and Chad Parish) get a designer on, talk about their game, go over some of the design principles and ideas and then go over how to make a character and play a short bit of the game – a couple of scenes – to show how it works in play.

It’s a novel and fantastic way to get across both the essence of a game and the intentions of the designer and I heartily recommend listening in.

Linkypooh HERE.

Machinations of the Space Princess: Gallery

Here’s a preview of some of the interior art for Machinations of the Space Princess

Machinations of the Space Princess: In the Wild Roundup! [1]

GunslingerThe PDF version of Machinations of the Space Princess is out and the backer print versions are in the process of heading to their future owners. Meanwhile, I’m starting to get reports from the wild of people ‘doing stuff’ with Machinations of the Space Princess.

Which is rad.

Here’s some of that radness.

This lovely chap is running a really cool soviet-themed game and writes up their sessions as a comic strip. Bonus points for using Dust Tactics figures!

Chuck Thorin spews wisdom about how awesome the game is HERE.

Dorkland did a playtest, leading up to release. Some of their feedback I actually used! You can see/read that HERE.

Flattering comparisons to a comic book HERE.

Pulpwood has been doing some Mass Effect conversions HERE.

There’s a rather in depth video review HERE which I enjoyed listening to!

We’ve also had some rather nice review type comments like this one:

Hi James, and Satine –

I just picked up a copy of Machinations today. It’s a masterpiece! I love everything about it.There’s too many delightful things to list, but it has everything – style, flavor, tight mechanics, rampant character options. It’s the first game I’ve seen that could handle something as pulpy as Flash Gordon, as scary as Aliens, as political as Dune, and as operative as Star Wars, all with aplomb. 
It’s definitely the best RPG I’ve purchased in the last year. I hope it’s a smashing success for you all!
Or this one at RPGNOW
I was curious about how the author would approach the mechanics of old school D&D and still apply it to a modern, futuristic sensibility and I was pleasantly surprised to see it was very well done and looked very playable. Cheeky and light-hearted at its core, the game looks like fun to run and even more fun to play. Specifically the alien character creation is brilliant. There is enough detail to make it interesting and it’s simple enough that you won’t be upset rolling up a new character once yours has been sucked out another airlock. The spaceship rules look great! I can’t wait to jump in and build a few ships.  Psionics looks like a lot of fun as well.  There is also a really well thought out section on running games and playing games that has some really good advice, but without being too preachy or taking itself too seriously. 
A sense of humour is a must for this game to be enjoyed.
So whatcha waitin’ for? Buy the muthafucka already!

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.


Machinations of the Space Princess: Break it for me

Alex_Horley_i_Nira__LoboI need some volunteers.

I am in the UK and have ‘stuff’ to be getting on with, which means I don’t have much opportunity to run games online over G+ and their ilk.

I’ve run two or three playtests of Machinations of the Space Princess but I simply can’t run games in the US time zone where it would be most useful and there’d be the most opportunity to get games up and running.

I need two or three Games Masters willing to ‘stress test’ the Machinations of the Space Princess systems under ‘combat conditions’ (that is, with players). I need to know what rules need clarification or aren’t obvious enough. I need to know where more examples are needed. I need to know what GM advice, random tables and help would be most useful. I need to know what kind of weapons, ships and so forth players actually try to make when they have the opportunity and whether weapons need more balance than just the cost.

Volunteers can apply via the usual methods, though I’m mostly looking for people who use Google Hangouts as a gaming platform. I’ll provide support and assistance via email and social media for you to help get adventures etc together.

You may fire, when ready.

Machinations: Second, fully playable, rough draft up


I’ve put the files for a second, rough draft version of Machinations of the Space Princess up. These are just word files, not even conveniently split by page for you to print out.


Please feel free to tear it apart, spot and mention any egregious errors and to take it for a test drive or three.

You can see the update HERE.

Machinations: Rubberheads

I’m just over half-way through writing up the racial traits, which is one of the key aspects to  Machinations of the Space Princess and not something I’m sure has been done before. Going through the various species, culture and exotic traits available to potential characters, it’s pretty obvious that the potential for min-maxing is huge.

Is this a problem?

I don’t know that it is. While I expect the game to be reasonably deadly I think more competent characters will compensate a bit for that and be in keeping with the genre.

After all, when you look at science fiction of all sorts, the aliens aren’t so alien after all. they’re specialised and extended versions of us. The klingons in Star Trek are a warrior culture with redundant organs and great martial skill and they’re hardly the only ones. Aliens of all sorts in all kinds of fiction exemplify particular traits.

The traits in Machinations aren’t that major in effect, they’re more than cosmetic but they’re not earth-shaking. It’s more about a way of guiding how you play the characters and giving them colour and flavour that goes far beyond just picking a class and race.

If people want to min-max, more power to them. If that’s wrong, it’s a failure of the player, not the game and hey, who doesn’t want to be the best at what they do? Bub.

Indiecon: Rad, as always

Back from Indiecon and recovering from the inevitable con-crud that has targeted my throat and guts. The bastard.

I ran games of ImagiNation, Irrepressible, PROJECT, Machinations of the Space Princess, Blood! and Agents of SWING. Various of those adventures will be polished up and published as time allows.

ImagiNation went brilliantly, everything I hoped it would be. The mixture of whimsy and darkness, creativity, gallows humour and imagination. Especially the game with the ‘dutch invaders’ playing it. I also had at least five people come up to me during the convention and thank me for writing a game centred around depression and mental illness and to also thank me for being open about my issues. I had a bit of a wobble at the start of the con so that was a great boost for me and made me feel that I hadn’t been wasting my time.

Irrepressible also went very well. People ‘got it’ and understood and appreciated the mechanic and the way the game reflected karma, ‘right action’ and the virtues of the pilgrims. All that and it was still wonderful, irreverent fun.

Machinations is what you’re probably all most interested in. The game went great though it also helped to identify a few rules and bits and pieces that need to be changed. Overall though I seem to have been able to project the setting into people’s minds and help them have fun without Satine’s art. WITH Satine’s art the game should produce multiple nerdgasms at a distance of up to fifty feet! I should probably charge extra for that. One thing people definitely seem to want are props (dice/cards) and rules for ongoing campaigns, carving out their own empires and businesses in a savage universe.

Sales were shite at the con, unfortunately. It seems that the recession is finally biting into gamers and the traditionally resilient hobby business. That’s a worry but we can hope that things will start to pick up from here and that Dragonmeet will go better – sales wise.

Machinations: Spaceship Battles

So, I’m thinking about space battles – and perhaps more broadly vehicle battles – in Machinations of the Space Princess and there’s a tension between wanting to keep rules simple an wanting to make them fit and be fun.

The most obvious route is to treat a spaceship like a monster. Give it hit points and statistics and so forth, but that doesn’t reflect the participation of the crew, the ace pilot and so on – much as it works well for enemy ships.

I want a system that remains simple but also allows crew – and passengers – to make a difference, so that everyone on the ship can feel that they’re doing something to help out in a battle.

One idea is to modify a concept from the game Full Thrust. In Full Thrust (which is an excellent space-battle wargame) ships have rows of damage and when a row of damage is taken there’s a chance of losing systems from being able to operate.

So, what I’m thinking, perhaps, is that ships will have hit point ratings – along with defence etc – and also have system ratings.

  1. Systems
  2. Life Support
  3. Weapons
  4. Engines
  5. Cargo
  6. Hull

So, say you have a snub fighter with 5hp (Starship scale) and it takes 10 damage from a vesta beam, it’s going to take two lots of system damage.

It has systems rated at:

  1. Systems O
  2. Life Support O
  3. Weapons OO
  4. Engines O
  5. Cargo O
  6. Hull O

It takes two damage at locations two and six. Life support is out (crew take damage) and the hull is destroyed, the ship goes boom! Damage would flow down, so if you hit systems and it was already clobbered, it would flow down to life support and so on.

The people on the ship can lend their skills and abilities to piloting it and avoiding harm, firing the weapons (using their ranged attack skills) and doing other actions to boost shields, restore broken systems, patch up the hull and even offer encouragement.

So I’d make a laundry list of options for things people can do to help out, as examples. EG: ‘Never tell me he odds’, rotate shield frequencies, manually adjust the warp field, etc, etc, etc. All of which means everyone can be valuable on board ship and much like adventurers versus monsters, player ships will have more options and punch above their weight.

Ship design?

Hit dice, systems picks and, perhaps, templates. Somewhat similar to the racial design.

A 1HD attack fighter might have one set of stats while a 2HD light hauler might be very different!

What are your thoughts and ideas?

Machinations: First goal hit!

We’ve raised the initial target of $1000 for Machinations of the Space Princess and so we’re now looking into stretch goals.

The first one is that if we hit $2000 we’ll offer a full colour version of the PDF and PoD of the game.

I’d love to hit the $6000 target that MotSP had when it was ‘just’ an adventure and toolkit but we’ll see how we go.

We’re looking into the possibility of certain stretch targets such as an MotSP tarot deck (and adventure generator), GM screen, badges, T-shirts, character booklets, cards etc and will keep you appraised of what we figure out!

Those of you who have already funded, please take this time to try and drum up more donations, pass on the word and let people know about the project!