Tag Archives: Claustrophobia!

RPGSS2015 – Round 1 Roundup

Winners of the first round of RPG Superstar 2015 were announced this week, with 32 winning items chosen out of hundreds. It’s a tough competition for sure, with a lot to be learnt.

RPG Superstar 2015

In my spare time I’ve been reading the Paizo forums and found a wealth of tips, tricks and loads of encouragement for aspiring game designers. I recommend you check it out, even if you’re not a Pathfinder player/GM.

Here are four things I’ve learnt from voting in round 1.

1. Make Many, Submit One

I had a few ideas, but only one that I fleshed out. Next time I’d try create a list of 10 ideas, flesh out 4 and then have my friends and mentors give some feedback before I submit the best of the lot.

2. Awesomeness Rules

There were some really fun items I got to vote on, items that I want to bring to the table both as a player and as a GM. What makes an item fun? It’s subjective and hard to nail down, but the item needs to get people excited to win this contest.

3. Every Word Counts

Anything you put down in the item description needs to make sense. There were a number or “unexpectedly light” items that I came across. Fine. They’re magical. I can go with that. But it has to make sense with regard to the items theme, not just be a random feature. And at the same time, don’t eat up word count repeating things or trying to be verbose. Shorter entries often grabbed my attention over longer entries.

4. Invincible

I saw many items that made the wielder immune to certain attacks or effects. Invincibility is only fun for the guy who’s invincible, and only for a little while. Look at any item you create from the perspective of all the players and the GM. If everyone’s going to have fun, you’ve got a keeper.

For more lessons learned this year, check out the forum. Enjoy Round 2!

Avernos Unearthed
The Avernos Wiki grows a little more every week. Hey, if I keep it up I’ll have 52 new entries by the end of the year.

This week we add dragons to the mix, Elder Dragons to be exact. These ancient beasts are responsible for much of the land as it is today.

I do like dragons, and I wanted to use chromatic and metallic dragons (such as in D&D/Pathfinder), but tie them into the creation legends of Avernos in a meaningful way. Last week I spoke about darkness on the doorstep and so it was important to have examples of evil having been beaten at great cost in the history of Avernos. Now chromatic dragons are set up as a force of evil, and you can be sure that someone will try and resurrect one of them to cause all kinds of havoc.

The Books of Faces
Don’t forget to checkout and like the Book of Faces Facebook page. You can check out the adventure history over at the Adventure Chronicle.

Rising Phoenix News
Here’s an awesome interior art preview for the pages of the final version of Claustrophobia! from my bro, illustrator Donovan Sloan.


I’ve also restarted going through Johnn Four’s Gamers Lifestyle course, with a view to smoothing out operations and getting more stuff published in the future. Wish me luck, I’ll be hitting the books hard this year.

Inspired in Japan
The #TRPG hashtag on Twitter is worth a browse. TRPG means “Table-talk RPG” and in Japan refers specifically to pen and paper RPGs. There’s plenty to inspire, and surprise (sometimes even shock), even if you can’t read Japanese. #DnDj will get you Japanese Dungeons and Dragons related posts.

That’s all from me until next Thursday.
Tell Thrilling Tales

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New Games, Ancient Lands

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is a great year for you.


This year I’m changing things up with the blogs focus. Each Thursday expect updates on my weeks gaming and project progress, as well as inspiration for your campaign. If you’re a GM, be sure to subscribe, because you don’t want to miss out. (Enter your email address on the right and hit “Join The Party”).

Avernos Unearthed
Each week I’ll bring you a new Avernos Wiki entry. The entries usually go live earlier in the week, but I’ll highlight them here.

This week South Fort expands with a look at the Sentinels. These fearsome totem-towers are both defence and rallying point for the people living in their long shadows.

The Books of Faces
Last year we embarked on an epic adventure with the crowd-game Book of Faces and this year I’m ramping things up. The game will still be available on the Facebook page, but has a new home on the site, with updates mentioned here.

Campaign Journal
After every game session I play I’ll post some thoughts aimed specifically at GMs.

Last Friday I ran my first session of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (MHR). Man! Am I sad they stopped publishing it. Anyway, I love this sort of story driven game. D&D and Pathfinder show their wargame roots, while MHR, like World of Darkness, Burning Wheel and my own Claustrophobia!, are much more free form systems that encourage great story telling.

Making the shift from Pathfinder to MHR was tough for me, but so worth-while. I learn’t more about GMing while fumbling through a new system than I would have if I played several sessions of the same old game. And most of that learning came from being out of my comfort zone and having to kick up the role-play a notch. I felt the game was much more immersive for it.

Nothing will improve your GMing like playing something new and unfamiliar, that’s for sure.

Rising Phoenix News
I’ll post weekly updates and teasers of our current projects, so watch this space. For now, you’ll find it worth subscribing to our YouTube channel, interesting things are about to happen there soon.

Also, don’t forget to vote in the 2015 RPG Superstar Contest at Paizo.

Inspired in Japan
Japan is full of history, culture, art and other inspirational things to fuel your creativity. I’ll be posting the videos, pictures and prose that have inspired me recently.


This girl was painted on the wall of a local train station and I immediately thought of the beautiful but chilling yuki-onna.

Anyway, that’s all from me.
Tell Thrilling Tales

November Update

As December draws ever closer I find myself thinking about New Years resolutions and how well I’ve done throughout the year.

One resolution I had was to create more and consume less, and I’ve done pretty well on most accounts. Although I haven’t published much this year, I have several products ready to launch and a number that are close to done. Watch this space.

That brings me to my second resolution: finish more projects. I’m very good at starting new things, but this year I tried to focus on wrapping up more projects. This led to a few months where I focused on Flash games I’d been working on. Although they all came along nicely, none of them are nearly as finished as I would like. On the plus side, Rising Phoenix Games now has a big team of dedicated testers.

The Claustrophobia Beta was a major win for me this year. We did a bunch of testing and editing and the book’s layout and illustrations are in the works, with a very capable artist at the helm. I can’t wait to show you.

Unfortunately, there were a few low points this year, but nothing Team Phoenix can’t learn from. I might quit writing adventures for cons to focus on paying writing jobs from now on.

I’ve published 3 pages for the Avernos Wiki, which I’ll be linking up soon. There’s still a ton of content that needs editing, so there’s plenty of my free campaign setting for you to look forward to.

So, what will 2015 have in store? Watch this space.

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Claustrophobia Art Update

When I see the awesome work my design gnomes have put into Claustrophobia I get really excited. I just wish I could share it all with you now! Unfortunately, I do have to save some surprises for the actual book. Props to my talented brother, Donovan Sloan, for this provocative work.

+1 Shovel by Donovan Sloan
+1 Shovel of Doom by Donovan Sloan


Copper Labyrinth

Lunatic Labyrinth is a Best Copper Seller on DriveThruRPG! To celebrate, we’re offering a big discount on the PDF until Friday the 25th.

Lunatic Labyrinth Cover

Claustrophobia Combat Update

An intense round of Claustrophobia play testing is underway and bearing fruit. Today we’ve got new combat rules for you. Instead of team based combat, the new rules let individuals shine and make sphere choices much more intuitive.




The steps for combat are:

  1. Choose a sphere.
  2. Determine Advantage
  3. Attack and Defence
  4. Determine Hits and Deal Damage


Choose a Sphere

The Sphere you use in combat is determined by what you’re trying to do. You should have a good reason for using the sphere, and the DM always has the final say.

Physical: you’re trying to wrestle, punch or otherwise physically harm your opponent. Use this when fists are flying and your goal is to capture, wound, knock-out or kill your enemy.

Mental: you’re trying to confuse, outwit or mentally outmaneuver your opponent. Use this sphere if you’re engaged in a hacking war, trying to beat your opponent at a puzzle or strategy game, or racing a rival scientist to a breakthrough.

Social: you’re trying to negotiate, intimidate or in some way rise socially above your opponent.


Determine Advantage

Choose a sphere secretly with your sphere cards. This does not need to be the same sphere as the sphere you are using for your attack. Every PC and NPC then reveals their sphere card.

Physical: you are using muscle to gain the advantage, such as sprinting to a vantage point, throwing sand to distract your enemy or charging them.

Mental: you are using cunning to gain the upper hand, luring them into a trap, surrounding them in a clever cross-fire or using some other ruse.

Social: you are using social manoeuvring, diplomacy or intimidation to gain the upper hand in the coming fight.

Each character rolls and puts aside any successes. Total the value on these successes to determine the order of advantage (highest advantage goes first). If you get no successes, you go in the total die score order after characters with successes. Ties should dice off separately. Any 1’s rolled to determine advantage don’t count as losses.

Example: Two gnomes are fighting a flamingo. Gnome one rolls a 5 and 3 and gnome 2 rolls a 5 and 2. Their total is both 5. In this case gnome 1 goes first. If the flamingo rolled two dice, with a 4 and a 4 (2 successes), it would go first.


Attack and Defence

Choose a target for your attack. You may roll as many dice as you have listed in that sphere, or less, but you must roll 1 die. Your opponent must use the same sphere and rolls defence in the same way.


Determine Hits and Deal Damage

Roll and compare. You score 1 hit and 1 wound for every success you score over what your enemy scored. Any ties go to the defender. Any ones rolled which are left unmodified are wounds taken by the target of the attack. The winner describes how their attack succeeds.

Distribute the removal of dice randomly between the losers stats, either by rolling dice or by using the sphere cards.

If the defender gets more successes, they score no hits on the attacker.

Combat then moves to the character with the next highest advantage.


Join the Claustrophobia Facebook Page to stay in the loop with all things gnome.

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Prezzies for Players

A few weeks ago I released the Player Play Test Packet for Claustrophobia on DriveThruRPG. It’s a great free little gift you can pass on to players when you’re running a game of Claustrophobia.

Of most interest are the four pregenerated characters, as previewed a few weeks ago. You’ll also get a questionnaire to help with the play test, as we approach the middle of 2014 and start putting the final version of the game together.



Grab the Player Play Test Packet here.
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Claustrophobia Role Playing Game Ad

When Gnomes Attack

I’m busy putting a Claustrophobia play test packet together, so I decided to draw some garden gnomes for the pregens. Here’s a sneak peak of the first two characters…

Gretta Come n Getta is the first up. A feisty gnome with who’s ready to face any challenge that comes her way.

Gretta Comengetta


Then we have Jovial Nick, the festive gnome. Is he a gnome or a Christmas ornament? Who knows?

Jovial Nick

More coming soon!

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