Tag Archives: roleplay

Funding Outrun – Devlog 3

Making games is awesome, but keeping your projects funded and in the black is just as important as having fun. Today I’ll look at some of the ways we’re funding Outrun. I’ll also look at sourcing and creating cheap assets.

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG I’m developing as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. It’s inspired by the Rushing Drive Famicom cartridge cover by Philip Summers (on Instagram).  I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Status Report, Scottie

A load of playtesting’s done and written up, so the core mechanics are in. Next, I’ll be focusing on additional mechanics and fluff. The bones are there and just need fleshing out.

Games assets got some love over the weekend, so let’s take a look at those.

Art Makes a Game

Great art draws you into a game. It’s also the one aspect of game design that hobbyists frequently get wrong, not through bad art, but through poor design.

Design is about unity and the thoughtful application of elements within the product. I’m starting to get technical, but my point is that, by applying design principles, you can turn a collection of assets into one unified whole.

I’m always scouring the Internet for useful assets, so I already have a library to pull from. For the rest, I make whatever I need or find an artist.

For Outrun, I’ve done 12 different page backgrounds. Here are two of my favorites so far.

Retro & Lazerpunk Boarder Samples
Retro & Lazerpunk Border Samples

I’ll be offering these page boarders off Drive Thru RPG, as a way of funding Outrun.

Page Background Set - Funding Outrun
Page Background Set

Photos and Filler

The rest of the book will be filled with emotive photos that bring the world of Outrun to life, similar to what I did with How to Plan a Murder — one of my best layout jobs yet, IMHO.

I’ll create my own design elements to fill in the gaps. I spent a lot of time researching the look and feel I want for outrun, so now it’s just a matter of making everything. Yay, Photoshop!

And the Cover?

My beautiful wife will bring her design talent to Outrun’s logo and cover, but you’ll have to wait and see. There’s a chance that the cover will be heavily inspired by Philip Summers’ design, below, but adapted to an RPG book format.

Wouldn’t it be awesome, though, if the PDF was formatted to look like a TV screen running a Famicom game? I think buyers might want to fling their keyboards at me for that one, but I like interesting ideas.

Rushing Drive, by Phillip Summers - Funding Outrun
Rushing Drive, by Philip Summers

No Tip Jar Here, Friend

If you like what you’ve seen please consider checking out our other RPG products. If you like something in our catalog, the team and I will always appreciate making a sale, and the money keeps us going.

Check out our Products

By the way, we’ve got a 30% Off sale on all our Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible products, starting tomorrow, in celebration of the Pathfinder 2 Playtest that just kicked off.

Join the Conversation

I’m sharing our progress here, but the conversation is happening at our dedicated progress thread at itch.io. Come along and say hi, or leave a comment here. Comments are moderated, so your comment won’t go up until a mod has had a chance to approve it (we get a LOT of spam).

Later.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Outrun – Devlog 1

Outrun is a solo table-top RPG inspired by Rushing Drive, a cartridge cover for a fictional Famicom game, created by Philip Summers (on Instagram). I’m developing Outrun as part of the A Game by its Cover game jam, happening through August. I’ll be posting updates twice a week, right here, so stick around and see the game come to life.

Core Concepts

Outrun is a blend of stuff I love: night run synth music, cyberpunk, fast cars, solo gaming, retro aesthetics, mutants, and post-apocalyptic wastelands. I’ve been kicking ideas around for this game since November 2017, and it’s finally starting to come together. Thanks, game jam deadline!

Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.
Outrun Cover concept. Photo by Connor Botts.

Base Mechanics

So it’s a game about driving, and it’s solo, and it’s an RPG. Outrun is all about the driving — think Drive and Baby Driver. Because it’s solo, a lot of the adventure has to come from the mechanics or the fluff supporting the mechanics.

Junk’d, a hot new game by Runehammer Games, has some great mechanics for simulating road-rage induced highway combat, and is perfect for a board game. Outrun’s “road” needs to be just as tight, but with plenty of adventure, choice, and replayability packed in.

Outrun uses a deck of cards, with each card keyed to a specific encounter. To drive, roll a d3, which tells you the number of cards to draw. Each card has two entries: what you see up ahead and what you find when you get there. You get to choose which locations to drive through, and your aim is to beat the deck in a number of turns — before the sun sets.

Vampires

Why do you need to beat the sun? It has something to do with vampires. Mutant vampires. Because, of course, vampires.

Pedal to the Metal

If you want to make RPGs, you have to make RPGs that really spark. We’re lucky to have a great line of products that have sold well, but Outrun is all about pushing the game design envelope. I’ll talk more about Outrun’s secret sauce in future posts, stay tuned.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 5

Time circuit’s on. Flux capacitor, fluxing. It’s back to 1985 and our Stranger Things Season 3 campaign!

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 5: Time Warp was our fifth session playing vs. Stranger Stuff, a game published by our friends at Fat Goblin Games. In this episode, played out over two sessions, we branched out and used a new system I’m working on for the Nightscape Series.

Episodes: Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5 – Episode 6 – Episode 7 – Episode 8

Stranger Things Season 3 Episode 5
Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 5

Disclaimer: Because Stranger Things Season 3 isn’t out at the time of writing, you don’t need to worry about spoilers, but I’m going to assume you’ve watched Season 1 and 2 already.

Our Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 5 session was the first session to end on a high note, with characters in a better place than they’d been at the start of the episode. They had to wade through hell to get there though. Here’s a summary of episode 5, with tips for running your own Stranger Things campaign at the end of the post.

Stranger Things Season 3 – Episode 5 – Time Warp

Scene 1

Player Characters: Michelle, Alpha, and Jennifer.

Three operatives working for Hawkins Lab were brought into a briefing room, where they were appraised of the situation in downtown Hawkins, as witnessed by Doctor Owens in Episode 4. Their mission: enter the Upside Down, rescue the kids and Hopper (who were pulled through a rift), and bring them back – alive.

The team included Michelle, an ex-MI6 agent and pharmacist, “Alpha,” a  psionic with field training, and Jennifer, a Vietnam vet and demolitions expert.

GM Note: For this section we used the Nightscape system, which works well for Spec-Ops games and includes a sanity track.

The team went through a portal into the Upside Down, then found themselves in a dark wood. Hawkins, they figured, was a mile out from where they were. Soon they spotted the small brain-like intellect devourers, which surround them, following from a distance. Alpha was able to detect more of them hidden in the gloom and encircling the team.

Eventually, the team got into town, but it was nothing like the Hawkins they knew. An older version of the town greeted them, the streets lined with cars from the 1960s. They went to investigate one of the cars, then the intellect devourers attacked. Using their silenced assault weapons, the team make quick work of the walking brains, but the fight brought a tidal wave of the creatures, which surged over buildings to get to them. The team ran for it, heading straight for Hawkin’s Town Hall.

Appearing out of the gloom ahead was a rift, the mirror of the portal opened in Hawkins the night before. Standing in front of the rift was Eleven, with her hand stretched out. She didn’t seem quite normal, as if possessed.
“Go away!” She shouted.
Alpha engaged his sensory deprivation mask and locked onto Eleven’s mind. As he did so he sensed the Mind Flayer standing over the town, its thoughts controlling Eleven. Alpha attacked the link, giving Michelle a chance to dart Eleven with a sedative. The Mind Flayer buckled for a moment, and Jenn grabbed the girl, hefting her over her shoulders.

Behind the rift and the truck with the device powering the rift (see last episode, Ed), were a bunch of humanoid figures. Alpha reached out to them with his mind, but sensed only alien thoughts. They were waking up, but they were not who they appeared to be. Sensing the trap, they dashed through the rift. Jenn set of some grenades on her way out that ripped apart the truck and shut the rift. One problem, solved!

Glasses reflecting Stranger Things Logo
Photo credits: Puneeth Shetty

Scene 2

Player Characters: Lucas, Steve, and Billy.

We joined the three in a library, where they were hiding out, having just fled from the intellect devourers. Lucas peered through a cracked, grimy window, and saw the intellect devourers drawn off by something, so the boys made a break for it, heading to Hawkins Lab. They made it there without incident, but found that the lab didn’t exist in the Upside Down – not yet, anyway. Lucas figured the tunnels must still be there, so they searched for them and eventually found them. They were able to find their way back to the nexus of tunnels where the old rift had been, and reopened it by hacking through the tunnel walls.

GM Note: Lucas, Steve, and Billy are out of danger, but I’m sure that opening the rift is going to cost them later. Mwahaha!

GMing Stranger Things

This was a fun two sessions, although our actual play time was limited and each session was several months apart.

Changing things up with a new rules system added to the fun of the game, but also slowed things down a little while we got into the new characters. Dropping “trained professionals” into the mix was fun, and I’m sure the players sensed they were playing red-shirts that wouldn’t have much screen time. Their new characters might have survived their first dip into the Upside Down, but anything could happen the next time around.

I’ve planned for three more sessions, so at this point I’m wrapping up some of the plot threads and focusing in on the important ones.

We Got A Golden Dragon!

Golden Dragon Award
Yay us! We’d like to thank our moms, the good people of Hawkins, Mr. Demogorgon…

Codex Anathema wrapped up the March RPG Blog Carnival with an award ceremony. We’re super stoked to have taken the coveted Golden Dragon for “Best Behind-the-Screen Adaptation.” We couldn’t have done it without my amazing players, our friends at Fat Goblin Games, and every one of you who’ve been following this series. Thanks for your support.

Till Next Time

Our next session is a week away, as we’re trying to finish off before the launch of the Pathfinder 2 Playtest. Check back next week for more from Stranger Things Season 3. Till then, why not visit our shop and check out some of our exciting publications. Everything we earn from sales keeps the blog alive and helps us produce more great gaming content.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Busting Out of My Shell

“Write about your personal experiences,” the gurus say. “Speak from the heart, and your readers will listen.” That’s great advice, but I lean so far over to the “introvert” side of the continuum that busting out of my shell isn’t natural or cathartic. But that’s partly why I love roleplaying games so much.

Photo by Alex Chambers - Busting out of my shell
Photo by Alex Chambers

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival has one of those deceptively tough topics: “Why do you love RPGs? Why do you love GMing?” Easy: RPGs are fun. But there’s more to it than that. There’s always more to it.

Busting Out of My Shell

So yeah, two things about me. One, I’m the quiet silent type who avoids crowds and, two, I spend most of my working day involved with RPGs — I’m a huge fan. At the same time, I’ve been a teacher, small group leader, and GM, so I’m used to coordinating others. I learned to do that the old-fashioned way — by running games at high school and after university, then by being involved at church and by taking an English teaching job in Japan. Now I feel confident in my ability to work with others or to run a game.

I still dislike crowds, but roleplaying tables are easier to handle. They also give me a chance to meet others with a shared interest.

Roleplay gives me a chance to dream, and to escape the real world. Since returning to South Africa I’ve felt disjointed. I loved the culture in Japan, the nature, the food, and especially the people. Being back in SA has felt like an uphill struggle in a world that’s no longer my home, but my roleplaying friends were among those who’ve helped me most to settle back in. It’s also great to close the door and drown out the world, now and then. John Kovalic nailed that thought in this Dork Tower comic.

Roll Dice – Touch The World

I’m not suggesting RPGs are a replacement for life. That’s dangerous.

In Japan, I made many friends through roleplaying, but my wife and I also took the time to explore, to get out into a country that was totally alien, even a little frightening, and become part of the community. That wasn’t always easy for me — Tokyo being one of the most crowded cities in the world — but it was good for me.

Busting out of my shell
Photo by Chris Chan

In the same way, a game group can be a way to touch reality. As a GM, I’m a part of providing that space for others, where we can be with friends, joke, and have fun. It’s a place to be part of humanity again and silence the voices in your head.

And believe me, those silent voices are real.

When you spend most of your time locked away in your wizard’s tower, writing RPGs, the voice of reason quickly gets drowned out by negative thoughts and false assumptions.

But that’s a post for another day.

rpg blog carnival logo

Thanks to Campaign Master for hosting this month.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

 

 

 

Children of the Fall — Design Insights

In this edition of Write – Design – Program we’re chatting to Gareth Graham of Frenzy Kitty Games about his latest Indiegogo campaign for Children of the Fall.

The cover of Children of the Fall.
The cover of Children of the Fall.

Rising Phoenix Games: Hi Gareth. First up, can you tell us a little more about Children of the Fall?

Gareth Graham: Hi Rodney. Thank you for inviting me to feature on the blog. Children of the Fall is an apocalyptic story game for 3–5 players. In the game, the players play as the sole survivors of a terrible apocalypse that has turned all the adults on the planet into evil, bloodthirsty savages. In addition to portraying their characters, the players will also need to manage their tribe and haven — fighting off the terrible atrocities that exist in this broken new world. It is a GMless game and has an improved system that is built on the mechanical skeleton of my previous big design, KARMA. Each session is framed around a mission and the world is built collaboratively by all the players through an extensive session zero. Children of the Fall also offers support for campaign play as well as one-shots. There is a huge variety of different missions and characters which are all customised every time they are used, meaning the game has a lot of replay potential.

RPG: You’ve already achieved some of your stretch goals. Where is the campaign currently sitting and what can fans expect once the next stretch goal is met?

Gareth: The campaign got off to a bit of a slow start, but we have successfully funded and unlocked our first stretch goal. Future stretch goals include new character playbooks, missions, and improved quality of the printed materials.

RPG: Frenzy Kitty Games has several apocalyptic survival horror titles, including Dusk, Downfall, Unchained, and a few of the modules in KARMA: A Roleplaying Game About Consequences. What is it about the genre that inspires you?

GG: There is something about this particular genre that excites me from a gamification perspective. What’s great is that it is rich with opportunities to create narratives that are dripping with tension, drama, and high stakes. It also allows the players to get into the action straight away, starting scenes or sessions in-media-res. In my opinion, the best stories are those of characters overcoming truly terrifying and seemingly insurmountable challenges (or seeing them die trying).

RPG: As a designer, how has Children of the Fall allowed you to dig deeper into apocalyptic survival horror? What can fans of the genre expect from the game?

GG: One of the design goals I had with COTF was to really emphasize the struggles that these characters face as children in a deadly and dangerous new world, and the scarcity of resources that are slipping through the character’s fingers as they and other tribes fight over supplies. The engine was mechanically designed from the ground up to tell these kinds of stories — stories of desperate measures in desperate times. The complication system has been weighted to make characters succeeding in difficult complications something rare and truly worth celebrating. The players also have story points which serve as a metagame currency to allow the players to possibly affect other player’s scenes — and this resource is limited and invaluable — emphasising the scarcity and helplessness that these characters must be feeling as children in a world hell-bent on wiping them out. It’s not all hopeless though — players also each get one Determination and Helix point which allow them to flip a result on its head and add great twists in the tale.

RPG: The art from Vincent Sammy really fits the theme and the mood of the game. Can you tell us a little more about their involvement with the project?

GG: I’ve known Vincent for years — we worked together on DUSK and in my opinion, nobody does dystopian art like him, so when it came time to make Children of the Fall he was my first choice. One of the things I love about Vincent is that we are both on the same wavelength — something I’m not extremely good at is writing up briefs for art commissions, so I explained the setting to him and told him to let his imagination run wild — and the images he has created for COTF are better than I could ever have hoped for. He’s also from Cape Town, so it’s great to have a product that is proudly South African.

Click here to see the image in full screen.

RPG: This isn’t your first Indiegogo campaign, following the fully funded KARMA: A Roleplaying Game About Consequences. What, if anything, did the past campaign teach you and how has it influenced the Children of the Fall campaign?

GG: The two main lessons I learned from KARMA was to set a more achievable goal and to make the campaign only 30 days (as opposed to KARMA’s 60-day campaign). Setting a lower target allows you to fund quicker and to get into that delicious stretch goal territory which is why people really decide to back crowdfunding campaigns in the first place.

RPG: You’re from the “Mother City” of Cape Town, South Africa. What’s the gaming scene like there?

GG: The gaming scene in Cape Town is great. It’s grown exponentially over the last 5 years, with gaming stores, cafes and conventions becoming more and more commonplace. One thing about Cape Town’s scene is that it is still a little more fragmented than I would like. Hopefully, as the conventions become bigger and more popular they will help to solidify connections between different gamers and game groups.

RPG: And yourself? What are you playing, what’s inspiring you as a designer, and where can folks find you and Frenzy Kitty Games?

GG: I’m diving into John Harper’s stuff a lot at the moment — Blades in the Dark and Lady Blackbird are absolute masterworks. There are lots of indie RPGs that just get me excited — I love the whole DIY mentality of indie game design. I’m also very interested in a lot of the OSR stuff that’s been coming out over the last few years — that feeling of nostalgia with modern design sensibilities is hard to beat.

Thanks Gareth and good luck with the campaign.

If you’ve got questions for Gareth then put them in the comments below. Be sure to check out Children of the Fall on Indiegogo and Frenzy Kitty Games on Drive Thru RPG.

 

 

LEGO Makes GMing Better

You have to love LEGO. The toy is infinitely reusable and loads of fun. Besides that, LEGO makes GMing better. Here’s a rotating stand I built for my Kindle out of LEGO I got when I was a kid.

LEGO makes GMing better with this Kindle swivel stand.
It’s IMAX for Minifigs!

It even comes with its own grumpy tech support.

LEGO makes GMing better with a grumpy tech support.
“Have you tried turning it off and on again, block-head!”
LEGO makes GMing better, except when grumpy is playing solitaire on his consol.
Every now and then I catch him playing solitaire.

The stand works without the rotating base too, and at it’s simplest — without the base and tech support — is only 12 LEGO pieces.

Lego GMing Tools

I use my Kindle when I GM, so the swivel base is great for showing my players the screen and keeping things at the right eye-height for quick rules checks. Maybe I should build a dice tower next.

Do you have any interesting GMing tools built out of LEGO? Share them in the comments below or tell us your story of how LEGO makes GMing better.

Till next time, Tell Thrilling Tales

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Round Up – May’s RPG Blog Carnival

May’s RPG Blog Carnival was a blast, we destroyed worlds, reshaped history and watched heroes rise and fall, all in the spirit of “At World’s End”.
Here’s a post by post summary…

Moebius Adventures

Only the brave or foolhardy would dare go beyond the borders of the world.
Moebius Adventures offer up some great setting ideas that I haven’t seen get much play in published works and would be perfect for a home campaign.

6d6

Some fantastic campaign seeds and how to introduce them into your game.  Beware, for the end is nigh!

Doom Rides to Silverado

A nice blend of fact and fiction, inspired by the Aztecs. Man, why does it have to end with earthquakes (I live in friggin’ Japan! I’ll be the first to go!)

Notes of the Wandering Alchemist

John Crowley III talks about reaching the end of your campaign, and how to deal with it when the day comes. Because, really, an awesome  campaign needs an awesome ending, so you’ve got to get that right.

Tales of a GM – Part 1

Phil gives us a look into four of his own campaign finales, some bumps he had along the way, and what he learned from the experience.
Some great examples to ponder over.

The Watch House

Some very practical ideas here for apocalyptic events, in a sort of “having your cake and eating it without your whole campaign dying” sort of way. Their title really says it all: Apocalypse Not Now.

Sea of Stars RPG

A dramatic opening to the apocalypse in the Sea of Stars setting. And dragons!

Tales of a GM – Part 2

Phil is back with his finale successes, rapping us up on a high note with more GMing advice based on actual plays.

That’s it for this month. Next month’s topic is Cold Iron and Pixie Dust: The Fae. Be sure to check it out!

 

At World’s End

RPG Blog CarnivalImagine you’re coming to the finale of your years-long campaign. Friends are moving away, and you want to end with a memorable bang. A big bang. A cataclysmic bang! This time it’s not just the people and things the PCs love that are at stake, but their entire world that’s on the line. There is no turning back.

So how do you prepare for a world shattering session? With the Kickstarter for Crisis of the World Eater successful funded, we’ve got plenty of this sort of thing to look forward to. Maybe you, as a GM, are feeling inspired. Perhaps, as a player, you’re about to face your toughest challenge yet.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Viktor M. Vasnetsov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The topic for May’s RPG blog carnival is “At World’s End”, and the best and brightest RPG bloggers will be sharing links to related posts, right here, in the comments below.

Anything is fair game; cataclysmic events, stats for planet crushing monsters, rules for the Apocalypse, or perhaps a hero’s survival guide to the End Times. We’re not playing games anymore, now we’re playing for keeps, winner takes all!

Don’t forget to follow the Phoenix on Twitter and Facebook, it’s the best way to keep up to date with the world shattering events that are about to be unleashed by ruthless GMs the world over.

More information about the RPG Blog Carnival can be found on roleplayingtips.com.

Don’t Be Boring

We don’t have much time on this blue planet. We just don’t. If we can do anything we put our minds to, and I really believe we can, then we need to get focused and not waste our precious time. We don’t have time to be boring.

I don’t want anyone, ever again, to have a boring rpg session. I declare it, henceforth, to be “verboten”. Great, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s break it down.

What Makes a Session Boring?

Low Buy In.

If you’re not invested in your game, then you’re going to have less fun. Some easy ways to get more involved include hamming it up, putting on those accents and, I can’t believe I need to say it, but roleplaying. I’m surprised at how many people (myself included), don’t roleplay.

 

Confusion

If you’re confused about the rules or the situation your character is in then you’ll have less fun. This is largely a GMing issue, but as a player you need to make an effort to call out your confusion and work out a solution with your GM.

 

Low Risk

The more your character has riding on the dice, the more fun it’s going to be. I know plenty of cautious players, and I don’t think caution is bad, but I do think it’s worth remembering that our characters are heroes, and they’re expendable. Put them on the line and enjoy the wild ride that follows.

 

What else can cause a boring session? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment and I promise to get back to you.