Posted on 4 Comments

Building My Online Store?

In today’s video I start by talking about ERA for Navigator RPG. That is really exciting, but if you read this blog because of my shared thoughts on making a living from writing for games, the second half of the video will be of more interest.

Since I made the video, about 4hrs ago, I have had lunch and deleted all the items in the store, watched the wooComerce videos on creating digital downloads, installed the PayPal payment gateway and read the LuLu documentation.

Creating the download store is going to be easy. I will get a least one product up and working today. It may even be live by the time you read this.

The challenge looks like it is going to be getting print on demand integrated.

The easy option is to use the shopify app and woo plugin. This would mean putting all the PDFs and books on a shopify shop and then using the shopify wooCommerce plugin to handle putting the products on this site, handling the payments and fulfillment.

For that to work, I need to find out if I can run a download store from Shopify.

Shopify has four levels of service, lite starts at $9/month, then $29, $79, and $299/month. The gain would be that I would only be paying a fraction under 3% in costs per sale, rather than 30%.

If I go with purely digital for now, and the PayPal solution, there are no upfront or running costs, but chargebacks can be a killer. If someone decides that they don’t want the PDF after buying it, the store gets charged for processing the refund.

Going the PayPal way for Print on Demand would mean using the Lulu API. I have never implemented an API, but how hard can it be?

I think I am leaning towards PayPal and the Lulu API. It will be an interesting learning challenge.

In the meantime, I can set up a digital download store, to learn the back end side of things.

Then of course, the product page optimisation can start.

Update: Enter solo in the Search Products box to see the current version of the product listing.

I send out discounts of up to 40% to my blog readers. To qualify all you need to is join my contact list, so I have an email to send the discount code to!

You can of course leave the list whenever you want. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Posted on 1 Comment

Red vs Blue Jam?

Versus compare. red vs blue battle conflict frame, confrontation clash and  fight comic | Premium Vector

I was thinking today and I came up with a neat little game idea. Initially it was just a solo system.

  1. Take two dice, one red, one blue.
  2. Roll the pair.
  3. If red is higher, the answer is yes.
  4. If blue is higher, the answer is no.
  5. On a double, a plot twist occurs.

Then I though we need some stats, Physique and Smarts.

You get three +1s to share between two stats, so that is a +1 and a +2.

The red vs blue roll is also our skill system. When you are rolling a skill you get to add the appropriate stat to the red die.

Rolling a d6+2 vs 1d6 gives you a pretty good chance of success, even the d6+1 gives you a 16% greater chance of success.

Combat Challenges

I am not really building this for hack and slash but we do need some way of dealing with fights. Narratively, we can deal with much of this with descriptive combat. By that I mean, you describe how you are going to win, and then roll to see how well you achieve it.

This makes combat very tactical. Imagine the situation, how you would defeat this foe, how will you move, how will you act. Then you roll the dice. Did the plan work? If not, you have to rationalise how you are defeated.

Mini System

This is an obviously a micro light system. You have the entire system here in this post. The point is that anyone could take this a make a specific system.

Game jams are just that. I can offer this us, and let anyone do the specific setting and genre stuff. Build what they like.

Does anyone fancy building a Red vs. Blue game?

I send out discounts of up to 40% to my blog readers. To qualify all you need to is join my contact list, so I have an email to send the discount code to!

You can of course leave the list whenever you want. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Posted on Leave a comment

Solo World Building

Tod mentioned Barbarians of Lemuria and the setting neutral Everywhen yesterday. This had me thinking about solo world building.

I was world building this week using simple yes/no questions.

In the image on the right, any double [11,22,33…] is a critical, which you can read as yes and.. or no, and…

This turned into an Omega Man/I am legend game, where my character believed he was the last living human.

Using this method of solo world building is ultra quick, as long as you are using a game with fast character creation. There is no point in spending 3 minutes to create a world and then 5hrs to make a character.

If the game was a front loaded game, Rolemaster, Champions and GURPS all fall into this camp in my opinion, I would rather build the world around the character. When you start buying skills it just makes sense to build a world driven character/character driven world, where they cannot really be seperated.

What this means is that if you were building a solo GURPS character, you may as well redline every skill that no longer exists. Redline kit and gear that just isn’t going to be available. As you narrow down the character’s options and opportunities you shape the character creation. But in a solo game, you are shaping your world to the character you want to play. If I want to be Will Smith/Robert Neville I am going to shape a world that lets me play that character.

World Lore

Just having 10 yes/no questions does not really flesh out a world. I like to create post-it notes, potted thoughts that sum up one aspect of a setting. If you don’t know my fascination with post-it notes you can start reading here. The post-it note methodology would let me detail pinpoint details in the setting. This could be specific locations. I don’t know New York, but Times Square would be somewhere I would use, the Brooklyn Bridge, that big funfair by the sea and Staten Island are all locations that I would want to roll into any game set in New York.

I love set piece locations and encounters. Something in the subway would be good, and that Grand Central Station. These make great cat and mouse chase locations. Not knowing much about New York, I can put all my favourite places near each other, just a couple of rounds/turns sprinting between them.

The actual plot I am happy to come out during play, but vignettes or set scenes can bring a setting to life.

I can happily create a few post-it notes to invoke a soundscape, what does a zombified New York sound like? Imagine broken windows in high rise buildings setting up a near-constant whining and moaning, all day and night. I can imagine that the whine is punctuated by the crack and shattering of glass. As buildings flex and very slowly lose their integrity, I think they will lose their glass faces pane by pane.

What does it smell like? Not to bad is my guess. Carrion eaters will have eaten all the dead bodies or rotting food. But the with no people to generate mess, no feed deliveries to go bad, no pollution, I can imagine the city smelling of fresh sea air, at least my version does.


Every little inspiration point will be on a post-it note. I will then construct a ‘mood board’ for a scene, this imagery, these smells, these sounds, this location. Bringing in all the elements to bring that scene setting alive.

As I learn things, I will record them on more notes and add them to my board of options. Reusing notes, will mean that the setting remains consistent between sessions.

World building for solo games can be really fast, or highly detailed. Your world, your game, do what makes you happy.

I send out discounts of up to 40% to my blog readers. To qualify all you need to is join my contact list, so I have an email to send the discount code to!

You can of course leave the list whenever you want. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Posted on 2 Comments

Skills and backgrounds

Crusaders Solo Handbook Compatible with Castles & Crusades

At the beginning of the year, I was playing Castles & Crusades with my paladin called Hanson. He met a sad end, being eaten by a polar bear on an arctic ice flow, but we are not all destined to reach a high level. C&C uses what it calls the Siege Engine for resolving skill tests. You describe narratively what you want to do, and then roll over a target number on a d20 + your level. The target number differs depending on the difficulty and whether or not the more appropriate characteristic is one of your prime characteristics or not. You set your primes depending on preference and class.

Solo Roleplaying 13th Age

In August I was playing 13th Age and they use a similar idea but you get 8 points to spend on describing your pre adventuring background. Each point gives you a +1 to rolls for any skill that someone with that background would know. I was playing a cleric that knew about monastic life including the farming and horticultural aspects so could apply a total of +4 to any skill rolls relating to those subjects.

This month I am playing The Lore System. This game uses Lore Sheets. These are first-person descriptions of your background and come with a bundle of related skills. Furthermore, if a skill would have been natural for that background, such as fire starting for a woodsman, the skill test is an automatic success when used for finding clues during your adventure. This last bit is the same way that investigative skills work in Gumshoe.

Lore sheets are writing by the player with GM input to anchor the character into the game world.

All three systems try to avoid the massive data dump that a fully-featured skill system has a habit of exploding into. Take Rolemaster for example, that ended up with hundreds of skills, and GURPS is no better.

Hero System, which is a personal favourite, has profession skills that cost virtually nothing, but have very broad scope. Professional Skill:Journalist is all that you need to add to your character sheet. I think that would cost something like 3 points from a budget of about 150. It is both something and nothing. It makes your character a competent at their chosen profession, but costs next to nothing as a penalty for developing this non-adventuring/crime fighting skill.

I am not sure which system I like the most. Right now, I think I would probably choose the Lore sheets approach. It is very rules light, very elegant and nicely thematic.

I send out discounts of up to 40% to my blog readers. To qualify all you need to is join my contact list, so I have an email to send the discount code to!

You can of course leave the list whenever you want. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Lore System [Narrative Basic Roleplaying]

The Lore System is a narrative Basic Roleplaying system with elements of Gumshore and FATE thrown in.

So this week I have been looking at The Lore System. This is a Basic Roleplaying (BRP) based system with its own SRD, making it easy to develop for.

For me, what makes it stand out is the inclusion of a lot of narrative elements. It is very much like Gumshoe meets Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition.

In Gumshoe, if you have an investigative skill, and you use it to look for a clue, finding the clue is automatic. The logic is that when was the last time you watched CSI Miami and the forensic guys didn’t find the blood splatter or they couldn’t work out where the bullet was fired from?

The fun starts AFTER the characters have found the clues and the players can get to work on trying to put things together.

That is how Gumshoe does it, that is also how The Lore System works.

Another cute element are Lore sheets. These are single paragraph descriptions of a characters professional background, they define the kinds of skills the character will be trained in, and may give a special bonus. Every character has a professional lore sheet, they may also get a special lore sheet and a general loresheet. Think of them as a freeform description of the characters background skills and knowledge, but they also contain references to the settings lore. They help anchor the character in the game world.

Lore sheets by necessity need to be created between GM and player. They are not dished out by the GM but the GM needs to have some input to provide the cultural references.

Solo Lore System

The Lore System looks to be very solo friendly. What I normally call the Drama Die, a mechanic where each ‘fail’ in a task triggers a countdown towards a bad event, is a core mechanic in the rules here. What this means is that if these are core, then published adventures will come with these built in.

Combat is a “If I make my attack, you take my damage. If I fail my attack, I take your damage” combat system. When you only have one side needing to make the rolls, this converts nicely to solo. Although damage is recorded in HP done and received, final blows are to be described narratively.

Because the BRP chassis is CoC 7e, we have a system of Advantage and Disadvantage on rolls, these just cry out to be the basis of Likely and Unlikely Yes-No questions and answer.

You must all know of my love of Post-it notes as a GMing aid. This game is post-it note friendly. These Lore Sheets, don’t really deserve the monika Sheet at all. They are little more than a line or two. There is one below for you to look at.

Now, surely that is as post-it note friendly as you can get? NPC stats average 25 across the board and their skills are defined by their lore sheet. You can pretty much create an NPC is 45 seconds, entirely in prose. Introducing an NPC into a solo game should not hold up play. You can retrofit actual skills and stats after the session, if the NPC is going to be a recurring character.

Basic Roleplaying

If you have been following my solo playing, and the rules I use, you will no doubt be aware that I am not really a big player of BRP/RuneQuest/Call of Cthulhu. I think I have written solo rules for two games in this system stable, BlackSpear and Call of Cthulhu. The first appeared in the BlackSpear playtest edition and the other as Monophobia. One reason I am not a massive Basic Roleplaying fan is that I am not keen on d100 roll-under systems. In my head on a d100, 100 is good. I think the 40 year association with Rolemaster has somehow corrupted me.

Lore System’s take on Basic Roleplaying pours on such a thick layer of narrative description it is verging on the OSR style of play. I don’t have a problem with that at all. I like having to imagine how I am doing something, rather than rolling the dice to test a skill.

I am looking forward to playing this and see it works out in practice.

I send out discounts of up to 40% to my blog readers. To qualify all you need to is join my contact list, so I have an email to send the discount code to!

You can of course leave the list whenever you want. Your support is greatly appreciated.