RPG Creations and Musings.

Archive for December, 2013

2014 Game Plans

Now it’s time for part two of my end of year reflections, but rather than looking back over 2013, I want to look forward to 2014 and talk about my plans. I won’t call them resolutions, for then they’re certain to get broken.

First of all, several times on forums, I’ve mumbled something along the lines of “that’s why I’ll never organise a convention”. I was lying, and always knew it deep down. That’s why I’m no co-organising an RPG convention in Sheffield, UK, on the 26th and 27th of April, called Seven Hills. To make it stand out a bit from general RPG conventions, there’s a strong science fiction theme with most (or going by the submissions so far, even all) of the games being science fiction based. There’s still room for more people to register (yes, please) and more games, but I think things are going well. I don’t want to say more unless my optimism mysteriously curses it. If you’re interested, there are more details available from following the above link. You can register here.

Undoubtedly, I’ll be saying more about Seven Hills in future blog entries. It’s something new for me, and I’m excited!

Then there’s writing. I’ve several projects on the go, as I may have mentioned in previous posts, and I’ll undoubtedly be talking about some of them at greater length in future posts. I’m not going to prioritise my babies, so instead, I’ll list them in alphabetical order.

Age of Arthur campaign pack

I want to bring out some support for Age of Arthur. The sales are good, and I have lots of notes from campaigns I’ve run. It’s mainly a case of organising them, I hope. And I’ll have the help of Graham Spearing, and his ideas, in bringing this to fruition. Watch this space- there will be more details when I have them.

Empire of Ys

This is a fantasy game involving an empire with cities on several planes of existence, and its corrupt capital city. If you sense something of a love letter to the old Planescape setting as one influence, you wouldn’t be reaching too far. I wouldn’t quite call it an Old School Rennaisance game, but the rules are based partially on older versions of D&D, and some more “modern” mechanics for things like character motivations and experience. I can’t leave this alone, and I’m over half way through a first draft. My plan for 2014 is to get that first draft finished, and then start playtesting.

New Frontiers

Another complete game, this time based around the One Roll Engine. It’s space-based fairly hard science fiction, set about a thousand years in the future. Things have regressed to something of a dark ages due to a big interstellar war between humanity and an alien species, followed by a reluctant peace. I’m about a quarter of the way there with this, with most of the base assumptions worked out. I hope to have a first draft by the end of the year, and then, again, move to playtesting.

Ninth Legion

This is written and with the editors, and I’ve had fun running it in 2013. It’s a setting where the Ninth Legion of the Roman Empire was transported to a Celtic Otherworld, and carved out a new empire there. I hope to see this released into the wild next year, after making changes and clarifications suggested by editing and external playtesting.

Paris 1968

A short Gumshoe-based city write-up in the city and time mentioned. Not much actual writing yet, but some ideas, some discussion, and some required reading. I aim to get this done quite early in the year.


This is going to be a short (30 to 40 pages) setting and scenario pack for Wordplay. It’s based around an alien invasion of the Earth in 1952. I have a first draft, but it needs expanding a little bit, not to mention playtesting. I aim to run a session of this at Seven Hills too.


Okay, that’s a lot of writing, but one of the above is pretty short, and two are all but done. I think I can manage it. Last, but not by any means least, how about playing? Well, here’s what I’d like to run and play in 2014.


  • Finishing off the 1968 Night’s Black Agents campaign I’m running. Yes, this is linked to the Paris 1968 project.
  •  Run games of Empire of Ys, New Frontiers, Ninth Legion and Starfall.
  •  Run some games at Seven Hills.  I’m planning an outing for Starfall, and some science fiction in the Transhuman Space setting, powered by Fate Core rather than GURPS.
  • Run a Wild Talents one-shot game, possibly involving the Progenitor setting, where people suddenly get superpowers at a 1970s rock concert.  This is likely to be a convention game.
  • Doing something Viking-based with Runequest 6 really quite excites me.
  • Running a one-shot of Godlike also excites me.
  • I quite fancy running a short campaign of Clockwork and Chivalry.  Historic stuff excites me- can you tell?
  • I’ve fallen a little bit in love with Trail of Cthulhu, and would like to run a single extended story over about four or so sessions.
  • I want to run a game over Google+ hangouts. I’ve had some good experiences playing such, so it’s time to give something back. This is of course entirely consistent with the above games.


  • I’d like to play one of the games based on the Apocalypse World Engine. There’s quite a few out there- Apocalypse World itself, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, Monsterhearts, Sagas of the Icelanders and Tremulus spring to mind. I most like the look of Monster of the Week and Sagas of the Icelanders, though Dungeonworld also calls to me a touch. There’s a lot of buzz about the system, and I don’t fully “get” it based just on a read through.
  • Another one I’d like to play and haven’t got round to is The One Ring. I’ve heard good things about the game and bad things about its organisation.
  • I want to play some space opera, and play some gritty hard science fiction. Maybe Seven Hills will deliver it to me.
  • Play some 13th Age. This game is getting me excited about D&D-style settings all over again.

That will do for now. Some of the plans are likely to go out the window, but better to shoot high! At any rate I’m going to be lucky to get through that lot!

My Year in Gaming

It’s the end of the year, and so I’m naturally drawn to review what went on in it, and think about what I want from the next. In this entry, I want to talk about what went on, at least when it comes to RPGs.

Firstly, games I’ve played. There was a one-shot of Legend of the Five Rings, a fantasy game based on east Asian tropes. I rather enjoyed it, and would have liked to play more, as there were lots of seeds for that, but such is life.

Then there was Esoterrorists over Google+ hangouts. This was an eye opener in two ways- both letting me discover how the Gumshoe system works (I’m now a zealous convert), and the joys of gaming over hangouts. Hangouts gaming was a jar to the system; for the first hour ago, I found myself simply thinking “this is odd”, and not really relaxing into it, but then something clicked, and I came to see it as being about 75% as good as face to face gaming, at least when there are no technical problems with sound and so on. The experience led to me trying some Traveller online, and rediscovering the joyful game of Traveller character generation and the richness of world building in the Traveller universe.

Finally there’s convention games. At ConQuest, I got to play rather than run Fate for a change, in the form of a wild west horror game. At Furnace, I got to play Dogs in the Vineyard and MouseGuard. I loved them all.

In 2013, I ran more games than I played. I ran a few sessions of the Dresden Files RPG set not in modern times, but in Roman Alexandria. That was fun- I should go back to it. I ran a one-shot of All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I ran a three session playtest of my setting, Ninth Legion, written for Reign, where the missing Ninth Legion of the Roman Empire was transported to a Celtic Otherworld. I ran games at conventions- my game Age of Arthur at both Furnace and ConQuest, and at Furnace the space opera game Bulldogs!, and a World War 2 plus zombies plus the Special Operations Executive game powered by Savage Worlds.

The best thing I ran was the first part of a campaign of Night’s Black Agents, set in 1968. But I’ve already spoken about that here.

What have I learned? Well, to begin with the obvious, it’s not ideal to run a system for the very first time at a convention, though not necessarily disastrous. I should have back-up player characters ready in potentially deadly one-shots. Still talking about one-shots, I still need to fully bridge the gap between freedom of action and pace. Sandbox-style investigations are possible in campaigns. Oh, and I like Gumshoe (that which powers Night’s Black Agents and Esoterrorists)- it joins d100 games, Fate and Wordplay in my standard systems toolkit.

Not RPGs, but this was also the year when modern boardgames and card games really took off for me. I’ve played and hugely enjoyed Elder Sign, Fluxx (several versions- Zombie Fluxx is my favourite), Gloom and Pandemic.

Coming soon…2014 plans.