This is my second time using OBS for recording the video. Still not really comfortable with it, but getting better. I made a classic mistake in that I did the full 16 minutes to camera and then realised I hadn’t pressed record. D’oh!
I touch upon virtual Cons in the video. I think it is important that we support these online conventions. Many small cons may not survive without people picking up the baton and joining in the virtual games.
There is not a lot you can say that is positive about a pandemic, but the way that our hobby has taken to virtual table tops is one of them. I have also seen an increase in popularity in my little solo books.
I honestly feel that this spring as been the easiest time to find playtesters for new games. I am also hoping that this attitude shift towards supporting new indie games and giving them a go continues.
I use my contact list to send out notifications of new booklets, send discount codes and very occasionally to get your opinions on things related to game and gaming, to help me make my little books better. Please consider joining up.
There are two real updates today. The first is that the Castles and Crusades Solo Handbook is now called Crusaders Solo Handbook and the book is finished, the content at least. The other nice thing is that I have an update to the playtest, Hancock the Paladin.
I am preparing solo rules for this game. If you would like to know when they are ready and get a discount on DriveThruRPG, there is a link at the end of this post.
Castles and Crusades Solo
The Solo Handbook is going to be both PDF and print on demand. The text runs to about 38 pages, not a massive tome by any measure, but my rules are always on the rules-light side because that is the style of play I like.
The only hold up is waiting on the Castles & Crusades 3rd Party Publishers Guidelines and a cover. I need the guidelines just to check that everything is above board and legal. I would really like to reference Castles & Crusades on the front cover, just so people know what they are buying, but you have to be careful that you are not breaking their trademark or copyright.
The solo rules try and emulate the SIEGEengine. It is a roll high for a Yes mechanic, You can do nearly all base oracle questions without needing the rules open. I have kept tables to an absolute minimum. I had a choice over how to handle open questions, those that cannot be answered with a yes-no. These are your ‘What are they saying?’, ‘What are the books about?’ type questions. I could either go down a d20 roll route or a diceless ‘narrative’ approach.
In the end, I decided to include both. Both work really well. I have tried to make so that the solo rules do not get in the way, and I think I have achieved that. Having both options means that you can dip in and out of both systems depending on the situation. My games tend to be more character interaction lead and that means that the d20 table gets a lot of use as it works well for motivations and conversations. When I am asking about environmental factors, what things look like, game lore and culture, the alternative word prompt, narrative method works nicely.
There is no disadvantage to having both, and if it makes rules more appealing to more players of different play styles, then everyone wins.
Hancock the Paladin
If you are not familiar with Hancock, you can catch up with his adventure here.
We left Hancock at the gold mine, now occupied by the ageing warlord and his followers. As he got to learn more about what was happening at the mine, it turns out that they could not or would not move the ore because of the goblin threat but they are sat on quite a bit of raw gold ore. The smelting should be happening back at the town. This is another reason for the town’s poverty, those that worked the ore are unemployed without the shipments being taken to town.
The underlying problem was most definitely the goblins pressing in from the north. Hancock decided to find the cause of the goblins coming south. Unknown to him, a couple of days out from the mine, as Hancock moved north, his trail was picked up by a hungry polar bear. (random encounter). I created a progress clock with 8 segments. Every time that Hancock was delayed or rested, the clock ticked down one segment. When the eight segments are complete the bear catches up with Hancock. So there is now a bear inexorably catching up with our intrepid paladin
Struggling north through a blizzard Hancock has a couple of short and bloody encounters with goblins and then a more unexpected one. He meets a group of goblins that are protecting goblin infants. These are the females of the goblin tribe and Hancock manages to get them to talk.
The goblins live in a semi natural cave complex in the mountains. Different tribes control different areas of these caves. Their tribe had recently excavated and explored some natural caves that went west towards the sea. They have unwittingly disturbed what they called Sea Wraiths, the restless spirits of sailors who has lost their lives on the rocks of those cliffs.
It was this undead threat that has driven the goblins from their homes. The other tribes have shut their doors to them and the wraiths were drifting through the caves and slaying any goblin they found.
With this information Hancock set out for the goblin caves. The females had told him how to find the entrance and avoid the other tribes. Having passed through the goblin lines he didn’t meet any more hostile goblins but the journey took a further two days. By this time the bear clock had ticked down by five of the 8 segments!
Hancocks adventure may continue in another post!
If you are not familiar with Progress Clocks they are introduced in the solo rules. I first encountered them in Blades in the Dark, but they are a fantastic way of tracking events that are happening ‘off camera’. They are literally a quickly sketched circle divided into segments. You ‘tick’ the clock down either by time or by events. When the clock has run down the attached event happens. In this case the bear tracking Hancock will catch him. Some clocks never run down, the adventure moves on and the attached event is no longer relevant. Other clocks run down quickly. There is no real limit to how many clocks a campaign can have running. They are great for tracking campaign story arcs!
Crusaders Solo Handbook Discount
I am hoping to have my Crusaders Solo Handbook live on DriveThruRPG in May (2020). If you are interested, there is an offer below.
Discount codes will be sent out by email once the book is ready. Add your email to this list and I will use it to send out your code.
Navigator is out of playtest and Live on DriveThruRPG.
If you have not been following the playtest, and lets face it most people won’t have been, Navigator RPG is a single volume D100 scifi game of high adventure.
The origins of the game come from two ‘parents’.
White Star, Barrel Rider Games. This is an OSR game cast in the style of some of the classic tropes from science fiction cinema. Everything you can imagine from classic cinema is here in an OGL, OSR game.
Space Master, Iron Crown Enterprises. This is ICE’s scifi offering, that has been rather left to languish, unloved for a couple of decades. It took the 1980s ground breaking Rolemaster and cast it into space. Unfortunately it left it there.
Rolemaster is often unfairly bashed as Rulesmaster, for the number of books of optional rules that were published, and Chartmaster for its reliance on mammoth charts, for everything.
Navigator RPG plots a course around the failings in the original versions of both games. Taking the best that both have to offer and dropping that which was unnecessary.
One of the iconic elements of Rolemaster combat was the critical tables. The principle was simple. The better your roll “to hit” the more damage the attack should do. It rejected the idea of rolling a Natural 20 and then rolling a 1 for damage.
Rolemaster introduced critical tables, one for each major type of wound, slashing for swords, piercing for pointy weapons and crushing wounds for bludgeoning, and so on. The wounds were then rolled on the right table and the text gave a description, location and effects. It made for very narrative combats and there was always a chance for an extremely lucky instant kill result.
Navigator RPG keeps that icons narrative rich combat system, slims it down and couples it up with a single volume, complete game in a 144 page hard or softcover premium quality book.
But Navigator RPG is more than that. Each chapter as everything needed to play, and a set of GM tools for making either more or modifying what I have provided. More alien species, more cultures, more professions. The same holds true for just about everything in the game.
Anything that works for Swords & Wizardry can be easily converted to Navigator RPG using the provided conversion rules.
But there is more…
Navigator RPG also comes with the HASP solo system. HASP stands for High Adventure Solo Play and I originally wrote it for HARP and Rolemaster. I have incorporated those rules into Navigator RPG as an integral component.
Do you know that thing where you know you should do something but it is too easy to never get around to it? Well, I have that feeling around youtube. I blog because I want to communicate with people. I am passionate about what solo play can bring to our hobby. Too many people simply dismiss it, others have never tried it and still more simply don’t know where to start.
My solution to continuing procrastination is to tell everyone that I am going to do it. In that way, I have made a firm public commitment. This is one of those announcements. I have created, and as yet empty, youtube channel. It is called Diary of an Indie Game Developer. It is going to be me sharing what I have learned, the mistakes I have made and the little successes I have achieved in being an independent role-playing game developer.
One of the vagaries of the industry is what exactly is an indie game developer. For me this means a one person operation. When I work I am the writer, editor, layout person, art director and the big one, marketing guy.
I cannot draw and I am not a digital artist, but that does not stop me creating my own art assets, although it probably should.
I can now add video to the list of jobs that I have to carry out.
The style I am looking for is going to be very much video blogging. I will talk about issues I am having at the time, as well as things I have overcome, or defeated me in the past.
My next task is to try and gather all the resources together that I think I will need to create these videos. I have a video editor, Open Shot, but no idea how to use it. This is all part of the fun of being indie. If you want to do something, you have to learn to do it yourself.
Software will only get you so far, so this evening I am reading up on script writing, video editing, and channel presentation. I am sure there are countless other skills I will need to learn before this is through.
So what do I get out of this?
I get to talk to a lot of other game developers, both independents like me, but also established industry leaders. The general consensus is that video is one of the most important media in games. Role-playing games are very visual. It is the art that gets us excited about rulebooks, for example. If my writing reaches some people, I hope that video will help me reach more.
If you have ever dreamed of writing your own role playing game, or you have written it. If you want to get in to self publishing, you are welcome to share in my experiences and learn from my mistakes.
The one thing I really need to get this started is a few subscribers. If you use youtube, please consider subscribing to the channel. Diary of an Indie Game Developer
If you have kids at home because of coronavirus, self-isolation, and social distancing, we have a game that may be helpful. It is Pay What You Want on DriveThruRPG, so you can read that as Free in these times.
The Things That Grown Ups Cannot See is a game intended for younger players, depending on your children, 8-12 years old. It is a diceless role-playing game set in our modern-day world by with an underlying magical world of elves and darker magical creatures.
The game operates on a “bidding” mechanic. Each character starts out with four power levels. Each challenge is assigned a power level that is needed to defeat it. Each character can contribute some of their power to a pool and then the characters make a bid to overcome the challenge. The game is founded on the ideas of collaboration and playing together to tell the story.
When players spend power they get to take over the narrative to contribute their part of the story until the Storyteller [GM] takes back control to guide the adventure towards the next challenge.
The fey creatures included in the rules come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. The intention of Things! is to create a collaborative storytelling experience without the more traditional combat-heavy culture of the world’s most popular role-playing game.
At the same time, it is a friendly introduction to role-playing and of creating a character that is not themselves, an important concept in all role-playing games!
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