Tag Archives: South Africa

5 Indie TTRPG Gems To Try This Christmas

Christmas is coming up, and as print shortages loom, it’s time to get those print-on-demand (POD) orders in early. Here are 5 indie TTRPG hidden gems you should check out this Christmas, all from South African designers.


Eventide features a fully-formed post-apocalyptic setting and fast, streamlined mechanics, all packaged in Frenzy Kitty’s characteristically professional style. The game also includes solo rules, which is one more reason why I love it.

Eventide Cover

Not many indie publishers bring the level of polish to their games that Frenzy Kitty Games does, which has always inspired me to make better-looking products. Gareth is also a huge fan of the genre, and it shows in the many adventure hooks the setting presents.

Buy Eventide if you love post-apocalyptic games like Fallout and want a deep level of abstraction that lets you tell interesting stories about survival in a post-apocalyptic world.

Nightscape: Red Terrors

This is one of mine, so I’ll just tell you what’s in the game, then you can decide if it’s for you.

Nightscape: Red Terrors RPG Cover

Nightscape: Red Terrors is part of the Nightscape franchise, which explores supernatural and cosmic horrors. Red Terrors is set in Russia, after the fall of communism. You and your team from Integrand General are tasked with recovering occult artifacts from a recently-discovered facility, in a race against time and cultists seeking to use those same artifacts for their own purposes.

The game uses D20s, map tiles, and an abstracted rules set that focuses on cinematic roleplaying.

Buy Nightscape: Red Terrors if you and your players want to take on a multi-faceted puzzle involving eldritch horrors, using the tools at the disposal of a team of elite paranormal investigators.

How to Plan a Murder

Although I had a hand in producing it, this one was written by Chris Visser, who has run the system as part of his very successful dinner murder mystery events.

How to Plan a Murder Cover

How to Plan a Murder is a LARP, or more specifically, guidelines for running a social event that revolves around a murder mystery, which is run by a coordinator. Each character is defined by several truths and what they know about certain characters, which effectively ties every character, and every guest, into the story that’s about to unfold during the evening.

Personally, I think it’s a fun way to get all your RPG friends together, with some of your RPG-curious buds, and all their significant others, and share an evening of fun telling a memorable story that you get to be deeply involved in (without actually killing anyone). Covid has made this sort of event rare, but one day we’ll be able to enjoy some murder with friends again.

Buy How to Plan a Murder if you want to run a dinner murder mystery for your friends, and your friends are up for an evening of dressing up and playing interesting characters with dark secrets.

Hello, My Name is Death

Full disclosure here, this one, like Nightscape, is also mine.

In Hello, My Name is Death you play the Grim Reaper’s apprentices, trying to knock another soul off this mortal coil and get promoted to COO of Acquisitions, the rider in black himself.

Hello My Name is Death

Hello, My Name is Death uses a poker mechanic and comes in zine format. It requires a deck of normal playing cards and is a theater of the mind game. Basically, by winning hands, you get to make things true about the world, or add a truth to what another player has made true.

We think you’ll love Hello, My Name is Death as an alternative to Gloom, or as a great way to improve your group’s collaborative storytelling.


Bullet’s full title is Bullet: The Special Forces Role-Playing System and Setting Guideline Manual, which really tells you all you need to know: you get to play spec ops characters, and the book will help you adapt any historic or fictional war setting into a playable campaign.

Bullet RPG cover

Play Bullet if you want to recreate a Navy Seals infiltration mission, loved the SWAT 4, ARMA, or Rainbow Six games, or want to play something where the bad guys are human and the bullets are deadly.

November is Indie TTRPG Month

Thanks to the Rat Hole for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, with the theme of “Going Indie“. To celebrate, all our indie TTRPG titles are half off on Drive Thru.

India and South Africa

Last year I had an opportunity to teach Indian students, alongside my usual Japanese students, it was an amazing experiance.

India and South Africa have a lot in common; cricket, former British Colonies, Mahatma Ghandi, English as an official language and tigers. That last one is a joke.

Japan, on the other hand, has more in common with the United States of America. Let’s face it, Japan is pretty much a colony of the USA, ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They even learn American English in most Japanese schools, and most foreign English teachers in Japan come from the States.

So even though Indian and South Africa are so far apart, this South African felt quite at home with a class full of Indian students. They knew all about Mandela and Graeme Smith and could speak English fluently. It almost felt like home.

Still, just because they could speak English didn’t mean communication was smooth. Accents and a different way of speaking play a huge role in getting your point across. My students need things given to them slowly and clearly, and our guests had a much bigger vocabulary, but communication still happened. Big smiles and hugs were enough proof that, when you cross cultural boundaries, friendships form.


Want to come join us in Japan and you’re a South African? Here’s what you need to know.

Basic Requirements:
·        A bachelors degree in any field
·        Be under the age of 40
·        Be a South African Citizen (to be able to apply though the Embassy of Japan in South Africa)
·        September 2014 – Application forms will become available on the Embassy website:
·        Application Deadline:  Friday 14 November, 2014.
·        Jan/Feb 2015- Tests and interviews in Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Interviews are strictly done face to face – no telephonic or Skype interviews will be permitted.
·        April/May 2015- Short listing
·        July 2015 – Departure for Japan
Other Links:
Ryan Keet
Tel: 012 452 1607

I can speak Africans

“What languages do you speak in South Africa? French?”
“Well, English and Afrikaans are two of the 11 official languages.”
“What is Africans like?”
“Um, no… Afrikaans. Anyway…”

“I love it when you speak foreign.”

It’s not easy to explain Afrikaans to people, especially when you’re explaining it in your third language to someone who isn’t much of an English speaker. To make matters worse, “Afrikaans” and “Africans” are spelt the same in Japanese: ?????? (Afurikansu).

But communication is a powerful thing, and getting my meaning across is the greatest reward I get for studying Japanese. (I used to think it was getting fed, which is now a close second). So I knew I had to try and get my point across, somehow.

When a co-worker recently asked me about South African languages, I tried explaining what I meant by writing it out in Japanese and emphasising the sounds:
??????? (Afurikansugo. ? means language and is pronounced “go”, as in “Go forth teach.”)
And he understood. That was a big deal for me, especially since South Africa has been in the spotlight recently with Mandela’s death, 20 years of democracy and, unfortunately, Oscars fall from fame.

Now my next trick will be to teach my kids that there’s no such thing as a “raion”.


So tomorrow I’m teaching at an International Day in “the town formerly known as” Agatsuma, It took a while to decide what I was going to do but I finally settled on teaching the students a song:

If anyone wants the worksheet send me a comment and I’ll load it. Nice to see glimpses of Sunny South Africa again. If you’re not from the Rainbow Nation then you might wonder who the singers are. They’re a few of the more popular artists who didn’t make a bad name for themselves at some point, including Arno Carstens, Karen Zoid, Chris Chameleon and many other great South African artists. Meanwhile in Japan it looks something like this:

Been a long cold winter.

Be A Star Player – Rule the Rules

My wife and I were recently talking about why learning the rules of role-playing games is such a scary task for so many players. With core rule books averaging over 300 pages, it’s not surprising that it seems like studying for an exam. Also, it’s quite easy to get by sometimes without knowing the rules, especially around a good GM. Well, thanks to some inspiration from the guys at Campaign Mastery and their great series on Rules Master, I thought I’d share some advice specifically for players.


The Key

The key to reading and learning rules, as the Campaign Mastery guys say, is not to read the book from cover to cover. Just read what interests you and what you need to play your character. The rest of this post is aimed at helping you do just that.


Start At The Beginning

As with a new text book, always skim through the Table of Contents first. This gives you an idea of what’s in the book and where you’ll find what you want. It’s a bit like looking at a map to get a general idea of where you are. You might even find chapters with names like “How To Play”, “Getting Started” or “The Basics”. Go there next.


Reading Lists

In the first chapter there is often a nice little reading plan. Follow that and you’ll save a load of time and be ready to play much sooner. The introduction will also give you a good idea of setting, or at least the feeling of the game, so I’d recommend reading it. From the reading list you can make your own reading plan, like I mention below in the Action section. Generally, your reading plan will skip anything for the Game Master, unless it pertains in some way to how you might want to use your character. Skip anything not related to your character. Not using magic? Then just dump that chapter from the list.

Action – Make A Reading Plan

  1. Write “+1 Reading Plan of Power” on the top of a sheet of paper. Underline it in neon. Draw a dead goblin head next to the heading for extra flair.
  2. Write down a list of all the chapters you’ll need. Exclude everything that’s for the Game Master.
  3. From the Table of Contents, find the page numbers for each chapter. Mark these on your reading plan.
  4. BONUS: Take some sticky paper tabs and mark out the sections you’ll need. If you’re wanting to play a pirate, put a tab where rules for pirate are given to help you find things quickly.

By the way, this method works well for studying too. Web guru’s call it “chunking”, or breaking down information into manageable bits. Our brains are kind of lazy, so you can grasp more if you can see there’s less to actually learn.


Build A Character

Once you have your reading plan, the next step is to build a character. A good idea is to have a character concept, as this will help you build a specific kind of character with the rules. As you go, use your reading list to track what you’ve done and add in anything else you want to look at. Just don’t forget to take stuff off the list too, you don’t need extra work.

As you build your character you might get an idea of where you want to take your character. Will your rogue establish her own guild? Make a note of this, preferably on your character sheet. It will help you play your character and, when the time comes, you can use your ideas to direct your reading further.



So, supposing y0u have a character and you’re ready to play then try your character in a game. You can learn most of the rules at the table under the watchful eye of the Game Master and with the help of more experienced players. While you’re playing though, make a list of any rules you feel uncertain about and any rules you want to check out. Then you can then look at those rules later or in down time.


Dig Deeper

After the game, or if you have enough time before a session, get a better grip on the rules by looking at the following suggestions, which are ordered by importance, from most to least.

Combat: Learn how to fight with every weapon in your arsenal, including your fists and makeshift weapons like broken bottles. You’ll also want to know how to use your special combat abilities and know exactly what their effects will be, since these are often character specific and something your GM may not know off hand. A good place to keep notes is on your character sheet.

Skills: Skills make up a large part of what your character can do. Keep in mind, however, that your skills are not as important to the GM as his campaign and session preparations. So if you understand what you can do with your skills, you’ll get more out of your character. Think of it like this: if you’re a sneaky halfling with major stealth skills, but don’t know how to use them, you just won’t sneak as effectively as you could if you knew the rules.

Movement: The more I learn about martial arts, having tried a few, the more I realise fighting is all about moving. Where you are directly influences your effectiveness. Movement is relatively simple too, so make sure you know how your character will move, both on land, in water and when riding something. A good way to think of this is to look at how a hero in a story of the same genre as the game you’re learning would get around. Aragon walked, ran, rode a horse and used a canoe.

Magic: If you’re using magic, know how it works. A good idea is to keep page references of each spell you can cast.

Miscellaneous: Subjects such as alignment may be covered in a chapter along with other miscellaneous rules. Many of these rules may be fluff that you can skip or skim. I’d leave this stuff for last.


Some Other Ideas

Beginner’s Boxes and Solo Modules: These are a great way to learn the game. Play at your own pace while trying out the rules. I don’t need to say more except that our free module is here.

Forums: The web is a great place to learn, especially when there’s a rule your don’t understand. Check out forums like EN World or RPG.net, you may even get an answer from the designer of the game themselves. If you can, find a local forum too, it will help you make friends and find game groups in your area, as well as help you learn local house rules. For South Africans I recommend www.rpg.co.za.


You Gotta Read To Succeed

At the end of the day you just need to jump in and read. I always think that a little work can lay the foundation for more understanding later, so even if time is limited, read what you can, it will be worth it.

Let me know if you have more tips or something that worked particularly well for you.


Jet Lag – My Opinion

I’ve only really delt with jet lag on three occasions, first when I went from the States to London, then when I went to Las Vegas from South African and now from South Africa to Japan. The worst part is the disorientation you feel when you manage to sleep and then wake up suddenly, and it’s not nice being tired when you should be wide awake. The only real cure for jet lag as far as I can tell is to get as much sleep as you can when you should, basically forcing yourself into the routine of your new location. Today is Tuesday as I write this, and we arrived on Sunday and have managed to sleep at the right times, so we’ll see how we’ve adjusted throughout the busy day.

Today should be a load of fun, we’re going to the South African Embassy, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve visited the South African Embassy in Cairo and seen South Africa House in London, so it will be fun to chalk up another bit of South Africa and meet South Africans living in Japan.