Monday, March 28, 2005

Back and Forth

So when I started this blog I gave two basic reasons for doing this. The first (and primary) reason was to discuss the thoughts and decisions that make up a design for a professional RPG product and the second was to just share my random thoughts.

Looking over this blog, one might come to the conclusion that what I think about when I work is... not work. The "what I'm thinking" posts have the "work process" posts so flanked they get an attack of opportunity for making their attacks of opportunity.

So, to even things out a little, let's look at the state of Legends of the Samurai.

One of the things that makes up a big part of any design process is the back and forth between the designer and the developer.

The role of the developer is one that's really misunderstood and is often invisible to the reader of a book.

In part this is because the developer is part of the background. You see the words, and the art and the layout. They immediately leap off the page as integral parts of the work and if one of them sucks then you know who to flame on your favorite board, cause his name is in the front.

However if the developer does his job badly then you might just end up flaming the wrong person.

When you work on a project, each member of the design team has his head in his own piece of the puzzle. This is a good thing. Writing, art, cartography... these things are pretty hard and the people doing them need to bring all the talents they have to bear to make them as lights out as possible.

What this means, however, is that these people also have blinders on. The developer is there to watch over the whole process and make sure it gells. He keeps his eye on all the people working on the book and makes sure they're all moving toward the same goal.

Here's an anaology. You're in a maze. There are 4 other people in the maze too. There are 4 seperate ways out of the maze, meaning that you all stand a great chance to make it through to the other side. However, you all need to exit by the same door for maximum results. Maybe only one of the maze's exits have cheese behind them. Maybe one leads right to a moustrap. Who knows.

Now the developer isn't in the maze... he's there to make sure everyone reaches the right exit at the right time. Since he isn't running the course, but is watching from above, he can track things.

Ok... for those of yelling "enough with the fucking mice" in your best Tony Soprano, here's a more concrete example.

Say you have hired a top-notch cartographer to work on a book. He's doing a map of a primary campaign setting to be included in that book, along with several smaller maps of churches, a town, a city.

These maps are nice eye candy, but if the writer provides detailed descriptions of them, they become a much more useful piece of the art budget than some random line art. The developer can make sure the designer knows he needs to provide some map descriptions and can give him a detailed look at what areas the maps are going to cover.

In the case of RPGObjects, a small company, everyone tends to wear multiple hats. Chris Davis, the owner and guy who signs my checks (and a wonderful, wonderful person) does the layout and also serves as the developer for almost every project I write. We have a great working relationship and our back and forth (the bouncing of ideas and concepts between designer and developer) is a big part of the synergy that makes our books click.

Sometimes the back and forth is about something big. Armor as DR? Might be too different from the mainstream. Why is that important? Well the more easily things work together the more utility the book has. In the case of Legends of the Samurai, for example, we want people to be able to adapt OA adventures from Dungeon as easily as possible. So even if Armor as DR is a better option overall, it might be the best option here.

Sometimes the back and forth is about something... not so big. Maybe the book needs to be a few pages longer or a few pages shorter. Maybe a complicated rule needs an example.

These things might not always be apparent to me as a writer. Im too invested. Nothing needs more explanation, my writing is clear. It is beautiful. It is art.

As I get back into the flow of finishing Samurai, I'll have more thoughts.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Spirit of Trek II: To Boldly Go

I have to say I was skeptical of Star Trek's return to television.

One thing about Gene Roddenberry and company, they don't lack in balls. Star Trek: the Next Generation was an attempt to prove that Roddenberry hadn't just lucked into some great characters and a great, gun-blazing, wagon train to the stars premise.

He was going to prove that he had created a universe. A place where an endless series of adventures could be set.

And in many ways, Next Generation (hereafter referred to as TNG) was about as different from the original series as possible. A Klingon stood on the bridge of the Enterprise. The women dressed as same as the men. The Captain really *did* come in peace and actually asked the opinion of those around him. In fact, the ship was run by committee.

It was jarring, and it took some getting used to. In the meantime, however, the eye candy sure helped. Special effects had come a long way, and TNG brought that new technology to bear week after week.

For me, however, three things really stand out about TNG: the development of Worf (and Klingon culture in general), the Borg and the beginnings of the development of the Trekiverse.

Ronald Moore (now departed from the franchise and fuck you too Berman and Braga) deserves a lot of the credit both for the development of Worf and the culture of his race. If watch the credits you'll find that Moore wrote a lot of the episodes with a military bent and a lot of *those* featured our sullen, ridged-headed friend (naturally).

The Borg started out as an "alien of the week". They were the really big stick used by Q to bash a little of Picard's arrogance out of him (very little, but there was a lot of arrogance there you have to admit). However, the "Best of Both Worlds" they came back with a vengeance.

Now Trek has always longed for that "recurring villain" factor. In fact the origin of the Klingon race was an edict from Paramount to give the series a recurring villain. In TNG this lesson was taken to heart and a nemesis (Q) was built into the show from its very inception. Some other faltering attempts at a recurring villain had been tried (anyone remember when the Ferengi were introduced as the big, bad, mysterious villain?) with mixed results. However, Best of Both Worlds brought a whole new dimension to the table: the Cliffhanger.

And not just any cliffhanger, possibly the best one in television history. I still remember watching the clock and thinking to myself (this is cool and all, but there's 5 minutes left in the show, time for Data to pull something out of his ass and get this over with). And when I realized that they were going to make me wait till next *season* to find out what happened... well let's just say I was hooked.

Lastly, TNG really took to heart the concept that there was a whole universe out there and set to exploring that concept. Through the "alien of the week" mechanic, long built into the show, they began to add pillars to the universe. Weight-bearing ones too. The Ferengi, the Cardassians, the Bajorans and the Trill all were created by the TNG writing staff.

Minor, "lower decks" characters also served to fill out the show and the universe. Not everyone was a bridge officer, and actors were hired for short term commitments to show different elements of the ship and different sorts of characters. Ensign Ro, the Bajoran with a bad attitude (and template for Major Kira). Chief O'Brian, proving what we all knew all along, that Star Fleet, like all military organizations, really *was* run by the enlisted men. Barkley, the brilliant, but thoroughly introverted and Holodeck-addicted engineer. Ensign Lefler, a Star Fleet brat and party girl who lived her life by a series of obscure laws (and played by a smoking hot 20-something Ashley Judd at that).

These seeds took root and really showed just what could be done by treating the Trekiverse as a living, breathing place. When the crew left a world or an alien spacecraft at the end of an episode, you never knew if that was the last time they would be seen (as opposed to TOS where recurring characters were... well there were the Klingons, Romulans and Harcourt Fenton Mudd).

To be continued...

Miller Time II: Electric Boogaloo

Ok, Blood and guts II Special Ops is really *really* done this time.

As for the delay, about two dozen NPCs have been added to the doc, serving both to illustrate the system and provide the ever-harried GM with some drag and drop NPCs for his campaign.

As an aside, I really love saying "drag and drop".


Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Spirit of Trek Part I: The Originals

Well, for the first time since the premier of Next Generation, there is soon to be no Star Trek on TV, as this season will be Enterprise's last. This has got me ruminating on Star Trek, the state of the franchise, and my relationship with that franchise throughout my life.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Star Trek.

One of my earliest childhood memories (back in the primitive 1970's) was watching the original series on Saturday mornings. That's right, in the midst of the "Creature Feature" (bad horror/50's sci-fi fest where I saw many I *thankfully* would not see again until Mike and the bots had their way with them) and the cartoons was this live action sci-fi show.

I'm not exactly sure how early this was in my life, but to give you an idea of how early it was in my development it was during one of these broadcasts (an episode I had seen several times) that I realized the show wasn't happening live. That's right, I thought Bill and the boys were putting them on live every week.

I didn't even know what sci-fi was, but I knew the show had aliens and spacecraft and a whole bunch of other stuff I wasn't seeing anywhere. This sparked a love for science fiction of the adventure variety (as opposed to the kind that reads like a combination of a physics textbook and stereo instructions) and led to me reading a ton of cool books, including the Burroughs John Carter of Mars and Hollow Earth books.

And during the 70's the love affair continued in the theaters. The first time I remember standing in line at a theater was to see Star Trek: the Motion Picture. The FX blew me away. I loved it. It wasn't till years later I actually realized the movie was kind of plodding (though I'd be willing to bet it's a MUCH nicer experience on the big screen).

And then of course, there was Wrath of Khan. Now this was what Trek was all about. Ships were blowing up, creatures were placed in bodies to control minds, Kirk was screaming, McCoy was pissed and Spock had a plan up his sleeve.

The movies were fantastic. The Search for Spock introduced the best Klingon villain ever (I still think Christopher Lloyd is the best bad-ass Klingon, although Duras, Lursa and B'tor are close), and the Bird of Prey is easily one the best starships ever seen on the shows (top 5 starships: Original Enterprise, Bird of Prey, Defiant, Exclesior, Original Klingon).

Still, as good as these movies were, and as well as the original shows held up to the passage of time, it was hard to describe Star Trek as an actual universe or setting. We always saw it through the eyes of Kirk, Spock and the crew of the Enterprise.

What was the rest of the universe like? Was everyone in Star Fleet above the rank of Captain insane? Was every starship commander a maverick? Why the hell did a "peaceful" organization like Starfleet have standing general orders a ship's Captain could give to wipe out all life on a planet?

Well, when the show returned to the small screen, we were about to find out how well this vision Gene Roddenberry had of the future would hold an audience's interest without Kirk there to kick ass and take names 5 seconds after announcing that he came in peace.

To be continued...

Monday, March 14, 2005

Miller Time

Well I just wrapped BNG II USSOCOM which means... its that time of day, when I can head for the mountains.

And in related news (ok not really)... China passed a law that they will go to war to reclaim Taiwan today. The US has had a law for quite awhile that WE will go to war to stop China from retaking Taiwan.

Well fuck.

Here's hoping the Organians show up.


Friday, March 11, 2005


A post on the ENWorld boards (where I probably spend time I should spend working- but I call it "advertising" and "connecting with the fans" so it feels more productive) raised an issue that I tried to address in Blood and Guts, 2nd edition and that I have spent a lot of time thinking about.

See, the first Blood and Guts was good, but it was TOO MUCH.

What do I mean by that?

Its like inflation. Have you ever noticed how Greenspan at the Federal Reserve juggles inflation rates around every now and then? Sometimes he raises them, sometimes he lowers them... he's looking for that sweet spot.

You want the economy to be hot, but not TOO hot.

Before you think this has turned political, I do think that anology applies.

BNG had good classes, but too many. Good skills, but too many. Good feats, but too many.

I was once of the opinion that you could never have too much STUFF. If you recall, back in an earlier post in this very blog I promised my books would always have nice crunchy STUFF. And they will.

However I am beginning to realize that if one new class is a good thing, 15 new classes is not 15 times better.

Here's an example: In BNG there was one development path that would allow you to enter Delta Force by level 10. One.

And that meant you had no class or feat choices available until 10th level.

That's too much of a good thing.

In some ways, Blood and Fists and Blood and Guts, my 2nd and 3rd Modern books respectively were experiments. I had taught myself the game writing and running Blood and Relics, and now I was ready to take it for a spin.

Looking at BNF and BNG its hard to imagine they were written by the same guy. I was experimenting with different types of design. BNF was very modular... very adaptable. Sure it has a few classes, but they're optional. You can ignore the classes and make use of the other 95% of the book.

BNG was very tightly woven together. You couldnt make use of one part of the book without the other parts of the book.

While this allowed you to run certain kinds of campaigns well, it forced you to either ignore the military or make it central. You couldn't take a little of the book and use it to make your Blood and Vigilance character have a more military feel (say a Capt America wannabe).

After using the books for over a year, I started to notice that BNF was always out, in my player's hands to add a feat or a skill use. BNG wasn't and I started to see the interwoven nature and complexity (dare I say density) of the rules as an impediment.

Basically, the flexible martial artist and rigid soldier fought and the martial artist won. So now the soldier is adapting


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Quick Update

Not to be confused with a quick hit!

Late tonight or early tomorrow, reliable sources indicate that the first installment of Blood and Guts II, the Military Training Manual will be released. This book will give you everything you need to make a character with a military background, whether the military is going to be a primary focus of the game or not.

Work continues on the second book of the series, Special Operations Command. This book will give you everything you will need to make a character with a special operations background.

This is such a big project and will cover so many of our products in the coming year that Blood and Guts now has its own page, so go check it out for info on all things BNG.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Never rains but it pours

3 in one day. Thanks for the review Jeremy.

And the reviews continue to roll in

This time for the Bushido Handbook. 3.5 stars thanks to Wayne for the thorough and thoughtful review as always (I believe Wayne has reviewed every one of my books).

Mystic Handbook review

D20 System Guide & Reviews

John Cooper has reviewed the Mystic Arts, the second book in the Legends of the Samurai series and given it a solid 4.

Id like to thank John for doing his usual thorough job.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

Quick Hits: Ultimate X

Speaking of comics (and the US Postal Service) I have lately been slotting X-men Evolution into my Netflix routine.

For those who don't know, Netflix is a service that sends you DVDs in the mail for a monthly fee. No late fees, postage paid both ways, no leaving the house (I'm big on that). Of course it loses the immediacy of going to the store and getting something NOW, but that's cool with me. I can still hit Blockbuster for those emergency movie joneses and still get movies in the mail regularly.

X-men Evolution was always a show that interested me, but one that I almost never caught. The reason? On wayyyy too early. If you don't understand why that would be a problem see "ass dragging" in the last quick hits above.

The more I see of this show, the more I feel that it's what Ultimate X-men should have been. I like Mark Millar as a writer, but his Ultimate X-men has absolutely none of the... innocence that makes Ultimate Spider Man such a trip.

Maybe that's nostalgia, but I dont think so.

There's really something going on in Evolution that is sure to appeal to younger viewers. All the adults in the show are a bit on the creepy side. Mystique is the school principal where both her Brotherhood and Xavier's Institute kids attend. And really it seems like the two teams (the X-men and the Brotherhood) would work it out and get along better if not for Mystique and Xavier.

I like that and it evokes an emotion Im sure many kids empathize with. If you have ever been to a high school football game where the two teams both want to win but are playing perfectly good ball, until a parent starts yelling and cussing for his kid's team to start breaking legs you have an idea of the vibe I get.

Spyke (one of the X-men) and Quicksilver (one of the Brotherhood) seem much more concerned about outdoing each other on the basketball court than on the battlefield.

Avalanche (one of the Brotherhood) pulls dangerous stunts as much to impress Kitty Pryde as to further any "mutant agenda".

Boom boom starts out as one of Xavier's kids but is driven to the Brotherhood by an abusive father.

When Xavier leaves Cyclops and Jean in charge, Nightcrawler and Kitty conspire to strand them (and cyclops' cherry red convertible) at a classic makeout spot so they can invite the kids to a party. A party that is crashed by a teenage Arcade who hacks into the Mansion's defenses and tries to hunt down the X-men... but he thinks its just the coolest video game ever made!

All in all, I am extremely impressed by this show and rate it as one of the freshest, most interesting takes yet on the X-men mythos.


Quick Hits: Comics Subscriptions

So here we are again.

Call this the remix. Or maybe Quick Hits II: Electric Boogaloo.

Anyway you look at it, it's another venture into my life outside of gaming.

That's right dear reader! If you'd rather not hear me blather about anything but games, you can simply not read anything titled quick hits and you'll be safe (although you'll still have to skim my ramblings away from games within posts).

This quick hit is brought to you by the US Postal Service.

Yesterday, as I approached my mailbox, I could see from the end of the soggy, ice blanketed driveway that there was a comic waiting for me.

I love comics, always have always will. However, a casualty of my aging process has been my willingness to haul my ass out to the store every week and see what's here.

When I was a kid it was different. Sanders Drug Store in Tampa had a spinner rack and every time I had some allowance Id spin that rack, thumb through what looked good and buy more than my fair share.

Iron Man, Avengers, Legion of Superheroes, Peter Parker the Spectacular Spiderman and the X-men.

Then there was the Walgreens in the mall that sold the magazine size comics that Marvel was experimenting with in an attempt to boost sales by getting comics on the, well, magazine racks.

Then there was the comic shop on the road south. Anytime we were going anywhere on the Tamiami Trail, which wasn't often, we had to stop there on the way. This was the first honest to god comic shop I had ever seen. And it was as close to Nirvana as I got as a kid.

They had the elusive X-men #137, the "Death of Phoenix". This was the first direct sales comic Marvel had done to my knowledge (comics sold only at comic shops- a move the major producers made to encourage the opening of these stores).

And its sad to say that, having missed the ending of the best comic story of all time, the Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix saga that, as the family piled into the stationwagon to head to Cape Canaveral I was more excited about the possibility that X-men #137 wasn't sold out and would still be available (not only was it not sold out, it was still available at cover price several months after the issue had been released- ah times of innocence).

These days I wait till a comic is in tradeback compilation most of the time.

Most of the time, which brings us back to the driveway and my joy at seeing the cardstock backed "dont bend" plastic wrapped comics envelope tucked behind the mailbox.

Some comics are too good to wait for. Notice this still isnt motivation for a weekly (or even monthly) ass-dragging to the comics shop. Maybe enthusiasm dims with age. Maybe my ass is bigger than it used to be.

Currently, the list hovers at a whopping 5 comics: Ultimates, Astonishing X-men, Ultimate Spider Man, X-men and Uncanny X-men.

Hmm, for all the ass-dragging that has gone away, it seems my love for the X-men is still around.

Nice to know the more things change, the more they stay the same.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Always an adventure

Something I am going to be doing more of in the future is adventures. I always loved writing adventures, but my first experience doing one for someone else's group (Raw Recruits by Mystic Eye Games for the Dragonstar game) didn't exactly go well. Although I enjoyed working on the project, I felt like my adventure could have been much better.

This led me to the conclusion, one that I still hold today, that writing adventures is the hardest thing in this industry. It was very hard for me to wrap my mind around the myriad groups that were going to be playing the adventure. Writing an adventure for my group is the easiest thing in the world. I know where they were last week and you build from there.

Maybe this sort of psychological hurdle is unnecessary, but I really found myself wrestling it.

Since coming to work for RPGObjects I have been asked to come up with adventures on occasion but I always begged off.

However I have been doing adventures for the dispatch, and am now ready to take the plunge once again. Some adventures should be forthcoming from me in the months ahead for Legends of Excalibur, Legends of the Samurai, Blood and Guts, and Blood and Vigilance.

Sheesh, makes me tired just looking at that list.

One thing I have been doing is going back and looking at what I consider to be the best modules ever written, and I came up with an interesting list:

Temple of Elemental Evil by Gary Gygax

Easily the best adventure ever written. This should be put in a safe at the HQ of every RPG HQ and made required reading for anyone planning on writing a campaign adventure.

Its also an unapologetic dungeon crawl, which means most reviewers wouldn't give it high marks.

It took Diablo to remind some designers (though still not the reviewers) of the charm of a big honking dungeon 16 levels deep with a big badass villain holed up at the bottom.

And no, it doesn't make sense.

Funny how the FANS never forgot how cool dungeons are. Those were the same fans playing Diablo even as the reviewers told them it wasn't any good.

Tomb of Horrors by Gary Gygax

Not only is this a dungeon, its a KILLER dungeon. That gives it about a million strikes from most reviewers. WOTC even tried to pussify it for those parties who whined when they all jumped headfirst into the sphere of annihilation.

Duh, that's why no real adventurer would be caught dead without a 10 foot pole.

Or a hireling.

Not quite as big a dungeon, but the attitude more than makes up for it. If you aren't prepared to brave its dangers, go back to Hommlett and be a bartender you wussies.

Legion of Gold by Gary Gygax

This Gamma World really cemented EGG as the best adventure writer of all time for me.

I mean, sure he wrote my all time favorite D&D adventures, but he created the damn game, so he must have designed it to his tastes right?

Well without the home court advantage Gygax still manages to pen the best GW adventure ever.

City beyond the gate

Lest you think Im an EGG fanboy (I am but why quibble) this adventure from Dragon 100 was simply great. PCs trapped in modern day london with a chance to nab the mace of st. cuthbert if they're willing to rob the British Museum (which we all know PCs are).

Reminded me of my favorite What IF? of all time. Conan winds up in the modern world, becomes a pimp (a real one) and puts a sword through Capt. America's shoulder blade.

The PCs who survived this roller coaster carried their revolvers as momentos for the rest of their days, long after the ammo was gone.

There's a bunch of other modules that would round out my personal top ten, but I should probably get back to the next BNG II book: Soldiers of the Special Operations Command.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Google Toolbar

So I am publishing this post (as I did my last) directly from the google toolbar with the aid of the Blogthis! feature.

And this has prompted me to take this moment to say that the google toolbar might be the best damn thing I ever bought.

And since the price was NOTHING that makes the price-value ratio infinity.

Seriously, it can search from any web page (I do so much research for my modern stuff that google used to be my home page so I could constantly go back to it with one click), it blocks popup ads *and* now I can blog from anywhere.

Here's to google, for being cool as hell and crushing yahoo search like a grape.


Passing the torch

Well, the revolution began today.

As BNG II picks up steam, some big changes were called for.

All the original Blood and Guts products (and its a lot... 3 major source books, 2 Modern Dispatch articles) were deactivated as individual items and placed in a discounted bundle.

In a way this is bittersweet, and in a way I feel like a guy who just said "I do".

In other words... I have officially crossed the rubicon. I can't go back on this whole "second edition" idea.

On a related note, I added some flavor text to the first book of BNG II that is the first step in bringing an idea to light that has been floating around in my head for a year or more: Blood Blizzard, a campaign sourcebook for Blood and Guts. This idea will serve as the unifying theme in all the BNG II flavor text, so I hope you like it.

I pitched the idea quite awhile ago and was told (more or less) that it was "too ambitious".

However, I think the time is right for it, and if I can make my case for it you will get to see more about the worst winter in human history than some flavor text.

Here's to snow and lots of it.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Reinventing the wheel

I love making new rules.

Feats, skills, classes... mmmmm crunchy. Although I have accepted the will of the masses that new skills are bad! Bad game designer! You will always find plenty of the rest in any book with my name on it.

I see the occasional rant online by folks who want less of this sort of thing, or even none. Several popular books have been done advertising themselves as containing NO crunch *shudder*.

Before this turns into a crunch v. cream debate (and before I get hungry), let me say that I would never buy a book that contains no crunch and you can also take that statement as a pledge that I'd never write one (yeah, I'm one of those selfish bastard writers who writes the books he'd like to buy).

I know plenty of people think any monkey can write crunch and the real test of a writer comes in his setting material.

Maybe, but I still don't want it.

I don't GM to live someone ELSE'S vision. Certainly not some game designer. RE Howard maybe. But when I GM I play in my own world.

And for a long time that world has included crunch of my own design. From the klingon-esque High Orcs of my beloved home brew fantasy to junking the alignment and spell slot system for Legends of Excalibur, I have always wanted to open the hood... throw out the parts I don't want, and see if I cant make this baby go any faster.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

You should never go grocery shopping when you're really hungry...

This is one of those old sayings.

You know, like don't mix beer and wine. EVER.

Maybe I need to make a new maxim for role playing design: "Don't design a game when you're having a nostalgia jones".

See, when I designed Blood and Guts, I was on a serious nostalgia jones. Remember those old Danger International and GURPs special ops campaigns I mentioned? While running those, I always thought about how cool it would be to do it under a class based system.

I thought about what a cool campaign it would be to run a Special Forces unit with each specialty represented by its own class: Special Forces Medical Sergeant, Special Forces Engineering Sergeant, Special Forces Weapons Sergeant and Special Forces Communications Sergeant.

It really had a vibe that I liked, like when you were running D&D out of the old red box and you have a Fighter, a Mage, a Cleric and a Thief.

So when I started work on Blood and Guts, despite the fact that the broad range, infinitely adaptable model of Blood and Fists was being very well received, I decided to do something old school.

It would have a ton of classes. Each of them very specific.

Over time, I started to realize that wasn't as good a model as what I had done in Blood and Fists. But hell, the book was already out, it was selling well, and people seemed to like it.

So screw it.

Except that, as time goes on, your first inclinations of a design problem seem to grow on you. Doing a book about terrorists required its own classes. That was ok from an old school point of view- bad guy specific classes have a certain vibe. They make the players a little uncertain.

However, when I realized each military from around the world would need its own book, and actually assisted Fraser in the making of one (In Her Majesty's Service), I realized that I didn't care for that. I wanted something more flexible.

But again, the book was out. Nothing I could do then.

However, there came a day, a day like no other... oops sorry that's the Avengers isn't it.

I was talking to the boss one day, and he mentioned a Blood and Guts hardcover would be cool, a compilation of all the books we had done, big and small.

And of course a rules revision.

So I asked him... what would you think about an actual, honest to god new edition, done the way I'd do it if I were starting from scratch?

Perhaps not surprisingly, he liked that idea. I was asked to come up with an outline and then we would revisit the topic.

So one outline later, and we had something both Chris and I thought was a winner. A longer product. More ambitious in many ways. Able to handle militaries of various cultures and times with relative ease.

Yet despite the fact that the book was longer, the individual PDFs would be shorter. This would leave me more time to attend to my growing list of responsibilities like the Modern Dispatch adventure ezine and the promised adventures for Legends of the Samurai (mmm I can't wait to get started on those).

So, having just wrapped the first draft, a process of more than a year's worth of thought and playtesting is finally going to come to fruition, Blood and Guts II. Or more appropriately, Blood and Guts 2nd edition.

I really hope you guys *like* what I've come up and look forward to hearing your thoughts on it as you see it, read it and run it.


Quick Hits

Ever wonder what games designers run when they're sick of playtesting their own stuff?

Glad you asked!

Looking to my near-left (bigass gaming pile #1) I see:


I reallllllllly wanted to hate this game. Hell I wrote a game that directly competes with it (I use that term very loosely in this instance).

I wanted to be the guy who noticed that fatal flaw and could stand and shout to the world that CHRIS PRAMAS HAS NO CLOTHES.

But alas, it turns out the game is actually good. And I am currently running the occasional pick up game using it.

It actually has most of the virtues of Hero's character creation system with none of the mind numbing complexity of its combat system.

The Marvel Universe Game

Even simpler than M&M. Unfortunately its also not quite as good. Plus, I prefer my games with dice. Call me old fashioned.

Also, something about the way they told me 200 times how "revolutionary" the game was grated.

However, it is pretty as hell, and since my M&M game is set in the Marvel U (sort of) it rides shotgun at #2 in the pile.

Medieval Player's Manual

Nice book. Crunchy and full of historical goodness (which you know I love). Plus it works pretty well with Legends of Excalibur. Another plus. This book just reeks with options, something I love about Unearthed Arcana.

GURPs Magic, Magic Items I, Fantasy

Man... I just love GURPs. I love running it sure. But you know what? I also love reading them. GURPs books are plain well crafted, and they, along with the collected works of Aaron Allston, taught me most of what I know and feel about how game design should be done.


Ahh... here's a sentimental favorite. I love Conan and I love this game.

I hear a lot of whining about the typos, but honestly, I never noticed them.

If you don't like this book, well I just don't understand.

It's one of the best RPG books I've ever read, and I'd consider it an honor to have my name on this book as a PLAYTESTER.



That's it for now. Next time I think I'll bore you with what I'm reading.


Night Ride Part 1

Night Ride Part 1 “Look, Pa, it’s my turn. Also, Nana is having one of her spells again and she has no idea who I am when she gets this w...