All posts by Rodney

Game designer, writer, and programmer at Rising Phoenix Games. Follow me on Twitter: RisingPhoenixGM.

Write – Design – Program: Rats With Reason

You pass the stone gateway into the dungeon. Rounding the first turn, you come face to snout with a giant rat.

In most RPGs, digital or table-top, an encounter with a giant rat or three is a pretty standard introduction to combat. Remember Fallout? I don’t have anything against giant rats, I’ve used them, but good design happens when there’s a why.

Fallout again. Those giant rats were the neon sign, reminding you why Vault 13 was such a great place to live through a nuclear holocaust.

One of my favorite movies is Hot Fuzz, written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Everything in the movie has a reason, everything is connected, and nothing is wasted. That’s great design.

Good adventure design, good game design, uses every opportunity to tell a bigger story.

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Rodney Sloan is a game design, writer, and programmer at Rising Phoenix Games, a line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games, and a freelancer. You can find him on Twitter.

Write – Design – Program: Lets Chat

Let’s talk about making games.

Specifically, writing for games, designing games, and game programming.

These are the three areas I’m excited about, thinking about, and working the hardest to improve on.

Let’s open up the conversation, talk about the journey, about learning new skills, grabbing opportunities, and making better stuff.

How?

Blogging makes the most sense to me. The medium has to allow for the conversation to happen.

Facebook also makes sense, because it’s where most of us lurk. Facebook can feed into the blog.

BUT! I don’t want to be another voice on the Internet claiming to know stuff.

I’ve met so many great people who are doing good work in the games industry, and it’s them, you, who would make this worthwhile.

I want to tap into the brains of better people and learn from them, grow, and be challenged. I’m calling you all out, because you’re doing good work and have something to share.

Ashirai, Queen of Death

This is our latest cover, a piece for our first product in a new line of solo / 1-on-1 adventures.

Bob Storrar did the art and layout, and you need to see inside this, because it’s beautifully done. The guy has real talent.

So, who is she and why does she matter?

Ashirai was once a fair and beautiful queen, who turned to necromancy to secure her power. That power came at a price, as she slowly lost her famed beauty to the corrupting energy of her magic. She took to wearing a cobra hooded mask carved to resemble her as she once was, and became known as the Death Queen, a powerful ruler with legions at her command.

And then, she died, or so it was thought…

ICON 2017 Recap and Monthly News

ICON 2017
South Africa’s longest running comics and games convention, ICON, celebrated it’s 25th year this year. We were there running demo games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as to attend workshops by Paizo’s own James L Sutter, who spoke about the industry and, most importantly, Starfinder.

Our Starfinder Plans
We’re not saying much just yet, but we have some cool stuff in the works that will be Starfinder compatible. Watch this space.

New Product — Bullet
Bullet is a faced paced, rules light special forces game by Basil Koufos. If you’ve ever thought playing CS the RPG might be a cool idea, then this game is for you.

Bullet

New Product — Gear Heart
Gear Heart is an adventure short—an adventure setup, map, and encounter—compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and set in Scarthey, the University of the Arcane. The party is called in to investigate a mysterious tower which appears once every three years on the night of the winter solstice.

Gear Heart

 

In The Works
Besides our Starfinder offering, we’ve begun work on Secrets of Scarthey, our follow up book to Welcome to Scarthey, aimed at GMs. We’ve also got several more adventures in the works, which all tie in with the setting. All of our adventures will either be compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, or the fifth edition SRD, and our setting books will be available in both flavors.

Welcome to Scarthey Cover

That’s it from me. Have a great weekend.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

How’s Your KARMA?

KARMA: A Roleplaying Game About Consequences is a brand new GMless RPG by Gareth Graham of Frenzy Kitty Games, currently running on Indiegogo at the moment.

Gareth was kind enough to send me a review copy of the game, so let’s take a look…

First Impressions

KARMA looks great. While it isn’t image heavy, the layout is clean and readable. What I especially like, and what I think is so important these days, is that it will read well on your device, even a smart phone (I tested it and it does).

KARMA is also meaty for the $10 price tag. From the Table of Contents it looks like you get just under 40 pages of rules, another 40 or so pages for the 8 modules included so far (with more coming, dependent on stretch goals), and then your cheat sheet and character sheet.

Now let’s dig a little deeper.

Components

KARMA uses standard six-sided dice — ten of them — in two colors. You’ll also need some pencils, paper, and tokens to track KARMA.

You also don’t need one of those pesky GM people.

The Rules

The rules are straight forward and easy to follow, making this a very easy read.

Character creation is simply a matter of creating a concept, selecting a Vice and Virtue, and determining your relationship with the other characters. And that’s where the fun begins. Character creation is very much a part of the game, which is a big plus in our opinion.

Follow that is a series of world building questions, both open to the group and exclusive to your character. Ah, the sweet smell of conflict brewing.  What’s nice about this is that a game of KARMA requires 0 prep — the only “prep” you need to do is a fun part of the game that is done collaboratively.

From here on out you play through a number of scenes, culminating in an action packed finale, and there are rules for all of this that make sense and keep things fair and open.

Critical to the game is the Karma system, which I’ll leave for you to discover for yourself, but I will say that it’s a great system that adds loads of fun to the game.

Overall

KARMA looks perfect for a 2–3 hour session with friends. I’m keen to play this with my non-roleplayer friends actually, as a way to introduce them to the hobby.

My regular gaming groups would give this a go between campaigns, especially for any group that focuses strongly on narrative. BUT, get this… KARMA is setting neutral, but there’s no reason you couldn’t integrate the game into an existing campaign with existing characters — even from a very different system. Want to take a break from the dungeon in your D&D 5e campaign, but not from your characters? KARMA would give you a great way to explore your characters more deeply, flesh out their motivations, and make them matter more.

So overall, KARMA is a very cool addition to the hobby. I recommend it. You can order your copy (PDF or Print) via the Indiegogo campaign page.

Enroll Today

Welcome to Scarthey, University of the Arcane

Admissions Now Open, Enroll Today

Scarthey Book

From J. K. Rowling’s Hogwarts to Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University, magic schools and universities abound with fantastic adventures. Now you can join the adventure and enroll at Scarthey, University of the Arcane. Live and breathe the magic, wander the halls alongside wise wizards, discover hidden secrets, and battle fearsome foes.

Archchancellor Gwydion Ambrosius
Archchancellor Gwydion Ambrosius

Get it on Paizo, Drive Thru RPG, and Open Gaming Store

 

Welcome to Scarthey — University of the Arcane is the ultimate student’s guide to the University of Scarthey, including everything you need for fantastic adventures in the exciting and unpredictable world of magical studies. Compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, this 66 page book includes:

  • An exploration of the tumultuous history of the University of Scarthey.
  • An introduction to the staff and faculties of the University.
  • A look at the four Houses of Scarthey, including campaign traits for each House.
  • A map of the University and descriptions of all the major locations around Scarthey’s campus.
  • A guide to the surrounding town of Scartheyton.
  • A practical guide to the gruesome sport of cackleball and the competitive sport of dragon boat racing.
  • Both a Single Page Spread PDF and a Double Page Spread PDF, stunningly illustrated, for your viewing pleasure.

Get that Degree in the Arcane Arts! Enroll Today!

Get it on Paizo, Drive Thru RPG, and Open Gaming Store

 


More titles from Rising Phoenix Games

Griffins A Field Guide Dying Dead, a 1-on-1 adventure. Contagions Kiss. Claustrophobia!

Griffins - Banner Ad

March Madness

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What a month.
I’ve got this personal vendetta against distraction, but March had me against the ropes.
Getting sick is no fun, but I did learn a lot from it.

For one, working in the games industry means I get to help others relax, have fun, and spend time with friends. March showed me just how important that can be — there were some bleak moments when escaping into game and time with gaming friends was very uplifting.

Secondly, I recommitted myself to the three pillars of my work:

  1. Coding
  2. Game design
  3. Writing

Eventually I’d like to be doing what I do for the tabletop for online games. The coding side has been something I haven’t given proper time to of late, but you can expect some interesting things from me in the future.

 

New Products — Contagion’s Kiss

“O true apothecary, thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.”
— Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Contagion's Kiss CoverWhen the city’s water supply is threatened by extortionists, the heroes are called on to infiltrate the fortress of a powerful outsider. Can they get in, get even, and get out, before it’s too late?

Contagion’s Kiss is an adventure for a party of 4th level characters. It can be used in any fantasy city or town where wells or cisterns are the main source of water. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GameMastery Guide and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary are required for play. This adventure includes creatures detailed in Chilling Curiosities — A Field Guide.

This adventure includes a full scale, printable poster sized map of the adventure.

Chilling Curiosities is available on Paizo and the Open Gaming Store.

 

In the Works

We’ve been hard at work on a number of products. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Today I handed over the final draft to Bob Greyvenstein for layout for our new setting, Scarthey, which our Field Guides are a part of. More on this soon.
  • Also for Scarthey we’ve got a bunch of adventures in the works, from both new and experienced writers. I’ll talk about that, too, soon.
  • We received the final draft for a new, fast paced modern spec ops game by Basil Koufos, designer of Might. We’re very excited to be publishing his latest creation and absolutely love the system and all that it stands for.
  • The Nightscape RPG for the Nightscape Series and Imperiad Entertainment is off to a good start. We’ve defined much of the core mechanics and have some interesting things we’re looking forward to trying.
  • Steampunk Musha rolls on with a number of books in and out of editing. As the line editor I’ve been learning a lot from the talented individuals who make up the team at Fat Goblin Games — they’ve got some great stuff in the works.
  • I did some editing work for best selling Dungeon Master’s Guild author M.T. Black. If you’re a Dungeons and Dragons fan then check out his great collection of adventures, such as the Complete Adventures of M.T. Black Vol. I.

So all in all, a great month.

 

March 21st

On a more sombre note, March 21st is Human Rights Day in South Africa, a day of remembrance for the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 and the suffering caused during the Apartheid era.
To me, the most important thing is remembering that we all share this planet. We all have a right to life, dignity, and respect. Let us all strive for mutual understanding — therein lies peace and happiness for all.

Photo credit: Redd Angelo
Photo credit: Redd Angelo

Fantastic February

Lots has been going on, so stick with me for all the Hot News. We’ve got some great offers to tell you about that you don’t want to miss.

When Flamingos Attack is the first official adventure for Claustrophobia!, and the perfect introduction to the game. It’s more than that though, as it sets the scene for a larger campaign I’m designing.

January was an excellent month for Claustrophobia!, and so putting aside time to support the game was a natural next step. That’s the thing about this industry; fan support is vital to the growth of any game, so I deeply thank you for getting behind us on this.

We’re just putting the finishing touches on a new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible adventure too. Contagion’s Kiss is a location based adventure, with the PCs needing to break into a defended keep to solve the mystery of the poisoning of the town’s wells. We have some fun surprises hidden within!

Contagion's Kiss Cover

Contagion’s Kiss will be available by the end of the month.

We previously released our 2016 PDF bundle, and this month we’ve release a Pre-2016 bundle, which includes the updated Lunatic Labyrinth solo and 1-on-1 adventure.

We’re not the only ones with a great bundle out. Legendary Games has a massive sale on Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible books: 60 books for $30. You can grab yours on DriveThruRPG.

The last bit of news is that we’ve signed the compatibility license for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, since it will lend itself nicely to something we’ve been chipping away at.

That’s it for this month. Remember, you can get all the news, every month, by subscribing to our newsletter.

2017 is going to ROCK!

Quick, wish them a Happy New Year so we can talk about the wands!

Um, yes, Happy New Year. May 2017 be a truly prosperous year for you and yours. Rising Phoenix has a big year planned, with all sorts of projects in the works. 2016 was a smash hit for us, and 2017 promises to be even bigger.

Now tell them about the wands…

Sheesh, I’ll get to that! But first, the new game…

Imperiad Publishing announced that the Nightscape series of Lovecraftian horror will be getting its very own roleplaying game this year. Although Rising Phoenix Games isn’t the publisher, our head bird, Rodney Sloan, is designing the game, so we’re super excited for their offering, which comes out in September.

Here’s the trailer to the Nightscape movie.
WARNING: The following trailer is unrated and may be disturbing to sensitive viewers.

Rodney is also the new line developer for Steampunk Musha, an Asian inspired steampunk setting, developed by Fat Goblin Games. If you love Asian inspired worlds, consider yourself an otaku, are a Steampunk connoisseur, or love kung-fu kicking oni in the face, come join the team for a chat on Facebook.

As for our own stuff, Claustrophobia! has some exciting things on the go, with its first adventure sitting in layout. Right now, until the 23rd, the complete rulebook is on sale for 20% off on Drive Thru RPG. This is a great time to pick up a copy and introduce a new game to your group.

Claustrophobia Cover

We’ve also collected all our works from 2016 in one handy, discounted bundle. If you’ve already bought some of our books on One Bookshelf sites, you won’t have to pay for them again, so it’s a great way to grab any Field Guides you might still need.

2016 Bundle

Some of our fans might remember our popular Lunatic Labyrinth, our first product, ever. It has been hugely successful, with over 5000 sales to date. We’ve relaunched it, updating the text and added a map tile for the combat encounters, making it better than ever before.

Lunatic Labyrinth Updated

If you like what we’re doing, why not join us, we’ve put out an open call for writers. You can find more information on the blog.

If you’re a Pathfinder fan, of if you’d like to to get started with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, there are still a few days left to support a good cause and grab the fantastic Humble Bundle they’ve got on offer. Personally, I’ve been enjoying the Goblin comics, fun!

And that’s all I can talk about right now, except for those wands I promised you about.

Here’s a sneak peek at something Bob Greyvenstein and I are working on. Have you ever wanted to make wands more of a thing, like the wands portrayed in a certain wizarding franchise, in your Pathfinder Roleplaying games? Try these rules:

 

Personalized Wands

Attuned to their owner, personalized wands allow a spell caster to focus their magical powers and channel them with a great deal of accuracy.
These rules modify the rule for magic in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and can be used at your GMs discretion.

Casting arcane spells with a wand cancels the material component of the spell unless the material component is more than 25 gp. The wand is used to execute any somatic component of the spell too. Personalized wands cost between 500 and 2,500 gp.

Casting without a wand is difficult, and even unpredictable. There is a 20% chance of spell failure for any arcane spell cast without a wand. If there is a somatic component to the spell, the chance of spell failure increases to 30%. Casting arcane spells with someone else’s wand, or using a spell storing wand to cast a spell not stored inside it, incurs a 5% chance of spell failure.

 

Till next month, Tell Thrilling Tales!
The Rising Phoenix Games Team

 

Have you got the skills? Write for us!

Rising Phoenix Games is looking for freelance writers.


Project Length: 3,750 words
Pay Rate: A 25% cut of sales. (25% to the adventure writer, 10% to the player options writer (Rodney Sloan), 25% to the artist/layout artist, 35% or less to the vendor and the rest to the publisher. )
Additional details: Rising Phoenix Games is looking for writers to produce solo and 1-on-1, choose-your-own-adventure style adventures for the Dungeons & Dragons 5e ruleset. Excellent examples can be found in the D&D 4e Beginners Box and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginners Box. The adventure should be tailored to a Cleric or Fighter of level 1 to 3 and should scale appropriately. Familiarity with Twine is recommended, but not essential.
750 words of the project are reserved for extending the adventure (such as adding random encounter tables, or modifying the game if played at night, etc).
Please send a 200~300 word pitch and a writing sample to the email address below.
We are looking for 3 writers for this assignment.
Respond to: contact@risingphoenixgames.com
Respond by: February 17th, 2017
Assignment Deadline: To be discussed. We’d like to release 1 adventure every 2 months beginning early April.