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Pilot RPG – Reboot

“He who embarks on that fickle sea, requires to possess the skill of the pilot and the fortitude of the navigator, and after all may be wrecked and lost, unless the gales of fortune breathe in his favour.”

Scott, Walter. The Complete Novels of Sir Walter Scott

I have a long running project that has many names, Navigator RPG, Pilot RPG or BME, Bare Metal Edition. I started this project in 2019 for a couple of reasons.

The first was that ICE, the publisher of Rolemaster has gone bust several times. Back in 2019 The latest version of Rolemaster was years behind schedule, and the talk about their marketing plans did not inspire confidence. Not only was I concerned that the new version of Rolemaster would never appear, but even if it did, I was concerned that it could disappear without trace. The Rolemaster old guard were not sounding too keen on buying into the new version at the initial release.

The second was that ICE are very reluctant to allow their party publishers to write anything for Rolemaster. I can kind of understand where they are coming from, even if I don’t agree with them.

The third reason was that many creators were asking for a Community Content Programme for Rolemaster, if not a CCP, then an Open Game License or a compatibility license.

All of these were refused, leaving creators no where to go, no outlet.

So, I had this idea. Rolemaster was created as a set of optional rules for AD&D. Converting it from d20 to d100. Why not repeat the process? Then what I would end up with would be my own version of the original Rolemaster. My personal preference is for science fiction. I looked around and and found White Box White Star. It was OGL, and a nice simple OSR system.

The end product was Navigator RPG. I put it up as a PWYW public beta in September 2019, and continued to revise it through to June 2020.

Navigator RPG (it always gets the -RPG on the end as there was another Navigator roleplaying game, but it hasn’t been updated in decades) got quite a bit of interest and excitement. One of the spin-offs of that excitement was to create an SRD for the system, but expanding it to cover many more genres. This SRD is now known as Bare Metal Edition. BME is continuously updated and expanded. you can find it on Git Hub.

I started work on Pilot RPG in October 2020, but it was a bit of a false start. I then tried again in the new year but stupidly I did it just as I hit one of my busiest weeks. Another false start.

Navigator RPG was an adaption of White Star. Pilot is going to be an adaption of White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game . both of these games are cleaned up and refreshed versions of the original Gygax rules. They are also compact rulebooks.

This weekend I have done a third restart. Over the weekend I have created a the first six chapter. I have also started chapter 7.

As of this afternoon, I have character stats, ancestries, cultures, talents and flaws for defining new ancestries and the first profession working. What this means is that I can roll up a characters (as long as you want to play a fighter). Pilot RPG is following the same structure, and is interoperable with, Navigator RPG. Navigator RPG is 20 chapters.

I can put this away now until next weekend.

First time around I put Navigator RPG on DTRPG, the day I finished the first draft. I made it PWYW, and promised that it would be free forever. It has had nearly 1000 downloads and of those 109 are paid for. It is available as PDF and premium soft and hard covers.

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The game was completely self funding.

What I would like to do is create Pilot RPG, put it out as a Kickstarter this time, and then set up a Community Content Programme. One thing I have maintained is a broad compatibility with Rolemaster. Starting from roughly the same source material and striving for the same end goal.

If my plans succeed, what I will achieve is a CCP for Rolemaster content, where creators can get paid for creating Rolemaster compatible content. The rules are also OGL, allowing people to develop their own content. Basically, I want to provide everything that ICE don’t feel able to do.

I will give you weekly updates for Pilot’s development, partly to keep me on the case.

As with Navigator RPG, as soon as the beta is ready, it will go up as PWYW, and the earnings will be reinvested to make the game better.

I am also going to try and cram in a few more firsts along the way.

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Wicked One Update #4

At least I think this is the fourth update.

After being massively stalled trying to build all those lists, I have put them aside for now, and carried on the with important part, the writing.

This week I have covered Compels, Dark Hearts, Stress, Going Feral, Dark Bargains, flashbacks and Clocks. Most of these do not need any changes or adaptations for solo play. What I am writing is more about how to use these features when there is no one else to bounce the ideas off of. If there is no GM to compel you, when can you make a dark bargain, and so on.

Solo games can become quite linear. If you are on a raid, you probably want that raid to proceed roughly as you intended. Sure stuff will happen, that is the point of playing, but you may not instinctively want to throw the raid away because resisting a compel sapped the last of your stress and you went feral.

Clocks and solo games work perfectly together. They area such a simple way of keeping track of an almost unlimited number of forces acting ‘off screen’.

I am not saying you need to have loads of clocks running, but they are really useful to emulate that bit of a GM that never forgets. Clocks don’t forget, and a nice consequence is to run down a lock in an instant. Something that you thought was going to come home to roost suddenly lands in your lap and you have to deal with it.

So not I am working through about a section a day. For me this means that the project feels like it is definitely moving forward and making progress.

I am tied up all day tomorrow, which is why I am doing this update today. Going forward I am hoping to do at least one update a week. I know people are waiting on this rulebook. I hope regular progress reports will show how the book is going, rather than weeks of silence. No one likes that.

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Death of Saddle Stitch

This is today’s video Designer Diary. It seemed to strike a chord as on Monday I had ordered the proof copy of my Stars Without Number book, and then a few hours later received the notification of the end of saddle stitch bindings.

Adriel at DTRPG was perfectly helpful, the order cancelled and the new files updated and re-uploaded. I am jsut waiting for premedia and then I can order the perfect bound proof.

I had plans to create 50 saddle stitch booklets in the next 15 months. I should be glad that this happened before I ordered all those proofs, just to have to rework them all.

This also tied in with my moves to become independently connected with Lightning Source.

My only reservation is that I am already mostly dependent on DTRPG for my income, they are dependent on LS for POD, so me then tying myself to LS is just putting more eggs in the same basket.

On the other hand, there is no reason not to also list the POD versions on Lulu, that will give me a second supplier for my own site, and a new storefront. When I do go non-exclusive I will be in a position to roll out the PDF versions on the LS distribution network and Lulu.

So, I am seeing this not as all my eggs in one basket, but as a stepping stone to greater resilience.

I am perfectly prepared to admit that the thought of having access to a potential 39,000 outlets is very tempting. Even if only 1% had an interest in RPGs I would be happy, 390 new storefronts would be very nice indeed.

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Wicked One Update

Demon, Devil, Evil, Monster, Alien, Cartoon, Head, Face

I am not a fan of lists. I find writing them is the fastest way to make my inspiration dry up. When I don’t need to create a list I am often fizzing with ideas. Tell me I have to write them down and suddenly I draw a blank.

So it has been all week, creating these d66 lists. I have four lists on the go at once. I am trying to fill in a few a day on each list, rather than trying to focus on one at a time.

In the meantime I have moved on to writing about different aspects of playing Wicked Ones. Today it is about Compelling Impulses.

Normally, the GM would compel you, and in return you can earn a Dark Heart.

Half of me want to create a random method of bringing this situation about. There is nothing to stop you from simply roleplaying when you feel your compulsion takes over, but I fear that if a solo player becomes focused on achieving a task, they may not stop and think of interesting ways of stymying themselves.

My working rule at the moment is to use one dice of a different colour. In this case the Blue die is the special die. If the special die comes up with the same number twice in a row, then you are Compelled, It is then up to you to decide to accept to refuse.

The goal is not to disrupt your game. If only one of the three dice used for a fortune roll is special, it is within your control to roll it or not. When the question becomes a sure thing, or you start to add more dice, the third dice is always going to be the special one. Once you have rolled it, put it to one side and leave it showing the same face upper most.

This idea is not really entirely my invention. The inspiration came from the old WEG d6 system, now called OpenD6. That has one special die, when it comes up six the die explodes and you roll it again adding the second roll to the total. Roll a another six and you add six to your total and keep on rolling the dice until it doesn’t come up six. The exploding die was always a different colour to the rest of your dice pool.

Our special die doesn’t explode, it is just going to prompt you to look at your compulsions and think “How can I use it right now, in this situation?”

If you think of a good one, mark off your new Dark Heart and play out the action. If the compulsion doesn’t seem to fit, there is nothing to trigger it, ignore the roll and carry on.

The chance of a die rolling the same result twice is one in six. That would be way to often for your compulsions to disrupt your plans. The goal is to have something remind you to use them, on a random basis, without having a special dice that is rolled, almost for no reason.

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2021 Plans for Print On Demand

I am starting my investigations into setting up with Lightning Source LLC. The intention is that they will do all the printing and fulfillment for my supplements.

The exciting part is the future potential. They have a big network, especially for digital formats. What I would like to go is get everything in my solo games store, and my fanzines on every site. The blocking factor is being exclusive to DTRPG. I am not too worried about this at the moment.

I want to get the print versions up and going. Then see where else I can get print versions on sale. That is enough for a start. That can include the Lightning Source outlets, Lulu, possibly Amazon, but not sure about them yet.

My Amazon plans are for joint Kindle/POD or even Kindle + FBA using offset print runs.

Offset is cheaper to get printed, per copy, and higher quality. I could get them printed and delivered directly to Amazon. They then deal with the pick and pack side of it, and the books would appear as Amazon Prime. Kindle Unlimited subscribers would be able to read them for free, but we get paid on a pay per view basis, getting a tiny cut of the readers subscription money.

The downside is that you pay for the entire print run up front. 100 copies would be about £350 once everything is taken into account. That is a big step forward and commitment.

Once I step on the Offset road, then I would be looking for a Distributor to get my supplements into bricks and mortar stores.

That is an entirely different ball game, and a task for another day.

Other ways of getting Print on Demand books on my own site is with Lulu. They offer two ways. The first is in partnership with Shopify. They will then give you a Shopify Plugin for WordPress and that will handing everything from payment processing, to print and delivery. The cost starts at $19.99 a month. My sales at the moment through this site are only $14.72/month.

The second option is a build it yourself route using Lulu’s API, application programming interface. API’s are often easy to work with, but not all of them. The fact that a paid for plugin solution exists implies that this one isn’t going to be easy to use. I do have some coding and programming skills. I *should* be able to do it.

The good thing for those two options is that they are automated.

With Lightning Source, I beleive, that I will have to recieve the order from the customer, then place the order with LS, who then do everything. The customer pays me, I pay LS. This is very much a two step and manual process.

I am hoping I am wrong. I want there to be an automated process for this.

I will wait and see what transpires.

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