Friday, 17 March 2017

And following on from yesterday - Readers Required...


I need to get back on track with what I was doing before all the delays occurred, so I'm looking for readers again, I've got several books where I'm looking for first impressions, more to see if the story holds interest in the first place than anything else, most of them are nearly completed (2014 was a good year), and wouldn't take much to finish off.

What I've got is as follows

In Iron Clad -

I don’t remember the sun…

I hadn’t been born when the lights went out, but mum used to tell me of the days when the light was free for everyone, not rationed by the guilds and fed through failing bulbs and dynamo’s

All I know is the darkness…

And the work…Always the work…

Alone in the world with nothing to look forwards to but the endless breaking of ships in the dark of the Umbralux docks, Green knows she has nothing coming, death comes for everyone, and she’s no exception, the only question is how long she has before it comes to her.  A ship returns from the far east of the Cold dark, it’s crew missing, it’s cargo plundered, nothing left of value on board to anyone, but a means to make a new life on the waves for those who have nothing else to look forwards to. 

With a crew consisting of a Onceman, three Milrats, a fellow docker, and a Rat Nav, Green sets out into the darkness, there to search for the person who owned the ship, a man she’s never known.


Her father… 

---

Ocean of Stars -

A routine scavenging operation in the Tyrannous stars becomes a journey to the other end of time when they encounter a derelict in space.  Torn from the raiding lanes, the crew find themselves in a world where ships roam the stars on sails of solid light, and the universe is no longer the place they thought it to be. 


Pressed into service on the pirate frigate Unbroken Dawn, the crew find themselves at the mercy of Captain Morgan, a woman hunting the mythical treasures beyond the incandescent death offered by Argents Breath, willing to sacrifice anyone and anything to get what she wants.   As the Unbroken Dawn nears the object of the captains obsession, the crew have to decide if they want to follow her to untold riches (with a side order of death), or consider mutiny (and a side order of death) to take the ship and return to their own time.

---

Regiment B -

There was a world where science had overcome all ills, where technology had an answer to almost everything, and the dawn of a brighter tomorrow was on the horizon…

This is not that world…

On this world, the machines rebelled against their owners, and the Cult of the Pure rose to show mankind of the folly of making use of technology, they promised safety and security in return for not using the technology that had caused all the strife.

But the cult never mentioned that the machines were still out there, and the only ones with the power to stand against them were the deviants who they preached hate against, those who had suffered grievous injuries in battle or in life, and only through the aid of forbidden implants did they exist from day to day.  These are the last chance of humanity, reviled by those they protect, they form humanities last defence.

Regiment B


Struck down by the machines, Vincent Emerson is given the choice between the restricted life his injuries will allow him, or service in the Regiments at the cost of the life he once knew…

----

Let me know if any of them interest...

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rejection, something all writers must come to deal with...

So today, after 14 months waiting for a response, a card, anything to acknowledge that there was a chance that I was still in the running, I got the rejection through from Gollancz.

Not on a card (I'd had one of those before), but on their website listing the books that they are still considering, with a note that indicated that if you hadn't had a card for your book, it must have been lost in the initial cut when no cards were being sent out.

I can't easily articulate how much that particular line hurt, especially when the previous updates had said that everyone who hadn't received a card or notification was definitely in second reading, and then in third and so on.

Interestingly enough, I was at the London book fair yesterday, and I went to the Hachette stand (Gollancz owners) and asked if there was any news, said I was willing to wait, did wait, and was told no one was available.

Today the confirmation comes out...

I'd like to think that the appearance of someone asking at the stand prompted them to actually tell people what the score was, but I'll never know on that score, I said yesterday that I'd have been happier finding out yesterday in person rather than two months later on a card, today, I'm at least released from the wait, and my spirits are lighter as a result.

It's the waiting that kills us, not the refusal...

Understand me when I say that in my heart (as in the heart of all writers), I didn't believe I'd get through, but there's still the gleam of hope within, and to be told that you could have been getting on with things rather than hoping that things could be on the way, well, it's a sharp taste of life.

I'm not discouraged, I still write every day, and now I can submit the books to others, because while I was thinking there was a chance gollancz would want it, I didn't, because the last thing a large publisher wants to hear is that you sold it to someone else while they were looking through it.

So two of the books that I'm most proud of stayed sealed for fourteen months...

And that's down to me and I know it...

No more...

Be aware all agents, there are submissions coming your way now, and if you want them, don't wait, because you're not the only one's who've got them now...

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Needing GM's and Volunteers for UK Game Expo and Airecon


Just a brief note about upcoming conventions, in particular Airecon in the new Harrogate Venue, and the UK Games Expo.  In both cases, we're needing a number of GM's, and in the case of Expo, we're also needing general volunteers as well.

With Airecon, there's a small RPG section being run alongside the main convention, and while there's already a number of Pathfinder games available, we're needing more generic roleplaying games, ideally along the lines of shorter demonstration games and things that can get beginners and those less familiar with roleplaying in general to try the games out.  The website for Airecon is at https://airecon.uk/ It's being held in March, between the 10th and 12th, anyone interested in helping out in the RPG zone should get in touch with me directly.

With Expo, growing pains continue, the problem with being the largest games convention in England is that you need the most volunteers of any convention in England, and each year, it gets harder to convince people to come and help out at the show, rather than just turning up and enjoying it.

www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk

So, in no particular order, we're needing a number of general volunteers, at least one more heavy lifter, and a number of general stewards/ambassadors.  The rewards package is, as always, one of the most generous of any convention.  18 hours volunteering gets you a hotel room, breakfast, and vouchers for use at the street scoff.  For general volunteers there's no heavy lifting, but we'll need you at various points through the running of the convention, mostly for door watching and assisting the public in showing them where things are and what's going on.  The lifters tend to work at the beginning and end of the convention, with the rest of the convention theirs to enjoy, but they do have to put the sweat in when on shift.

Anyone interested in volunteering for Expo should contact Heather and Simon at volunteers@ukgamesexpo.co.uk

We're also needing more GM's for Expo, because as numbers grow, so we need more people to run games so we've actually got things for people to do when they're not going around the trade hall.

We're premiering a RPG on demand games area where shorter games of 1-2 hours can be played for those who don't have the time for full four hour slots, this area has several very experienced GM's who can run a variety of different games depending on what the groups want to try out.

Of course, we've also got the regular games, from Call of Cthulhu to the 100 player D&D Epic World Premiere, and we've got more open gaming space than we've ever had before, but we're looking for more GM's to run games for us across the weekend.  Rewards for running games range from free entry for the day to full hotel rooms with meals paid for, and we're not just looking for the bigger game systems, it's not the system that makes the game good, it's the person running it.

Anyone wanting to offer games should get in touch with me directly, either on this post or at John@ukgamesexpo.co.uk

Any questions on any of these, please get in touch, there's a few more conventions coming up in the next few months, and we'll be covering those tomorrow.

Friday, 3 February 2017

RPG special events and submissions for Expo

With us going live on the RPGs for this Sunday evening, we wanted to make a few announcements regarding special events that will not have been made live at the point at which we make every other RPG active.

The first of these events is the D&D World Premiere Epic, a 100 player event that has been given to UKGE following the successful D&D premiere from last year.  This event will be running on the Saturday night in the evening slot and will be going live as soon as the full details of the scenario are made available.

The second of these events is the Cthulhu Masters, a popular event every year, we’re currently setting the scenarios for the event, which will start with the qualifiers on the Friday afternoon, with one player from each of the qualifiers going forwards to the final on the Friday Evening.  One of our most popular events, the Masters has always featured handmade, unique prizes for those who make it through to the final, ranging from perfect copies of the Grail Diary from the Indiana Jones films, to a bound and sealed copy of the Necronomicon.  As soon as we have the scenarios finalised, we will be making an announcement and then setting the masters live.

Finally, there is an indication that there will be a Pathfinder society special event, but we are waiting on details from Paizo regarding the event and will announce the full details as soon as we have them ourselves.

We’ll still be taking submissions for RPG’s after this Sunday, but we would like to stress that with the unprecedented levels of rooms that have been required for Expo this year, we will be prioritising those who get their submissions in earlier when it comes to allocating rooms. 


If anyone has any questions regarding submissions or games that will be coming up, please contact me at your convenience...

www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk

Sunday, 22 January 2017

On the subject of Punching Nazi's...

I’ve been watching the various things about punching Nazi’s today, in particular something that came through in form of a soliloquy on whether it was right to punch Nazi’s, ending in the conclusion that yes, you should punch Nazi’s whenever you should and if you happen to hit a bystander who just happens to have short hair or a bad moustache, it’s unfortunate, and that’s life…

No…

I don’t play politics, never have, I’ve got a strong moral code and I stick to it, but that governs my behaviour, not that of others.  What I read today was an easy justification for punching Nazi’s or anyone who holds similar views to them.

And that’s not how it should be…

I have no sympathies with Nazi’s, nor any extremists, but their views are theirs and their own, it doesn’t give me the right to punch them out any more than their views give them the right to beat down on anyone who disagrees with them.

And you don’t get to justify it by saying that your grandparents bombed Nazi’s in the War, because if we say that it’s alright to hit something because your grandparents hit it, everyone’s a target, you don’t get to say that we need to fight fire with fire, because that just leads to everything burning, and you don’t even get to say that your perspective is right…

Because to the world, it’s not…

It’s just yours, it’s right to you and those like you…

Newsflash…

Their perspective is right to them and those like them…

Does it make them right…?

Only to themselves…

We live in a world where too many people are too eager to lash out, to scream at the things they don’t like, that they don’t want, to scream at the injustice of the world around them...

Because there’s so much injustice in this world…

But that won’t make a better world, what makes a better world is every one of us doing what we can to make it better.  You think punching a Nazi out makes it better?  You think that a sound beating will cause them to question their beliefs and consider that perhaps they got it wrong?  Ask yourself the question.

Would a sound beating make you question your beliefs?

Or will it just reinforce their opinion that they’re right, and that they’ll use the example a hundred times over to show that everyone’s just as violent…?

Because they will…

You don’t change a world with violence except for the worse, them hurting us, us hurting them, whoever them and us are. You change it with ideas, you change it with the hope of a brighter tomorrow, you change it by working every day to bring what you want to the world, without having to beat people to do it, because you know what happens when you try to beat an idea out of something?

You drive it deeper…

Every hit you take, it roots the idea that bit stronger, because whatever that idea is, that’s the thing that’ll free you from the beating, because the person doing the beating can’t think of any other way to get the idea out of you, so they’re resorting to something that will never work…

I got bullied when I was a kid, I was absolutely different to everyone else. I knew it, and sadly, so did the rest of the world, so I ended up fighting people all the time just because they didn’t like who and what I am, and sometimes I’d win…

Sometimes I wouldn’t win…

And I had my books damaged, ended up running home from school sometimes, and never had a chance of fitting in with anything because I wasn’t the same as everyone else.  I remember being chased home from the army cadets and beaten up, till one day my Dad came out and caught them in the act, gave them a dose of their own medicine, and showed me that I was never to give up, no matter how bad things got.  Did it stop the bullies? 

No, they just got sneaky about it…

So, those two never got caught giving me shit any more, but their friends took up the slack, and that’s what happens when violence is on the table.  The second you’ve escalated it past words, the other side is justified in a similar escalation, and it takes years, if ever, to come back down with neither side having won.  I listened to my Dad’s words, I never gave up, and thirty years later, the rest of the world has caught up with the realisation that playing games is okay, and even stranger, it can be a perfectly grown up thing to do…

Have I done my bit for it?

Yep, I’m a bloody evangelist when it comes to getting people into games, into writing, into doing what they want to do without fear, but I’ve never hit anyone to get my point across.  I’ve thought about it a few times, sometimes the ignorance you face is staggering, sometimes the dumb fecker screaming at you makes it seem that the whole world is against everything you stand for, and a solid beat down is well overdue for all the injustice that many in the world suffer for.  But it won’t work…

Because it never does…

Yesterday people marched the world over, and the world noticed, and whether you’re for or against what they marched for, you noticed…  And that’s where ideas come from, when you see that people feel so strongly, when you know that you can speak up for what you believe in, and someone out there will have your back, then it becomes easier to speak up for what you believe in, and as it becomes easier for you, then it becomes easier for everyone, and when you’ve managed to convince everyone that you’re right, without pointing a gun or raising a bat…

That’s when you win…

And I know a lot of people are having a good laugh at all this, white supremacist got beaned on national TV, but it’s not funny, and that where everyone made the mistake before, they thought it was, they didn’t take it seriously, and we are now where we are.

Doubts?

Four years ago, Trump was a by line for “That’s never going to happen…” He was a bad joke (I know, I know, still is) to his own party, but no one took him seriously, and all the times people were laughing at him, he wasn’t laughing, he was working towards making all the people laughing at him, stop laughing

And he made it, enough people stabbed at him, so he stabbed back, and there’s no one laughing anymore…

Someone hits you, hit them back and harder, not a problem, everyone has that reaction and rightly so…

But we should never be laughing at the notion that someone just got hurt just because what they think is different to what we think, it doesn’t matter that their perspective is different, it doesn’t matter that what they say makes us howl with anger and want to punch them, because they say the same about us, and if it’s alright for us to do it, then it’s alright for them to do it…

And It’s not alright, is it…?


Ranting about games resumes tomorrow, promise… 

Friday, 20 January 2017

On being a writer…

I just found out that two of my novels are in for the third round of last years Gollancz submissions, and the thought filled me with both hope, and dread…

Hope because if I make it much further, there’s a distinct possibility that Gollancz might want one of my books, Dread, because if they say no at this point, it’s been a whole year I’ve been on tenterhooks, just waiting for the note to drop through the door that tells me I didn’t make it...

There’s a lot of people out there who want to be writers, and to be honest, you can see why, all you do is turn up at your desk, welcome the muse to sit beside you, type for a few hour, and then enjoy the rest of your day while the awards flow in one side and the money the other.

But you know something, I don’t believe that people think that’s what it is anymore, I don’t believe that at all, that was the popular theory ten, twenty years ago, and now…?

Now I think everyone’s getting the idea of just how hard it is to write things and make them good.  Anyone can write and get it published, there’s a million websites out there and all you need is a word processor and an idea that you’re willing to write up.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing…

In the past, and to some extent today, the publishers and agents were the ones that held the keys to the doors of being a writer, a “Real” writer, one who made money from their creation, but no longer.  These days anyone can publish a book, but to be recognised as a writer needs something else, and I see this in many places where I find other writers.  It’s not enough that we’ve written a million words, ten novels, a few hundred articles, two or three RPG’s, that’s not enough to qualify us as a writer, what we want is the respect of our peers.

Yeah, you’re not a writer till someone else calls you one…

Oh and did I mention pay?

Yeah, you’re not a writer till you get paid for it either…

And shelf space?

Yeah, you’re not a writer till you’re on the shelves at WH Smiths and Waterstones…

Is this all sounding familiar to the other writers out there?

I write every day, other people call me a writer, I get paid for what I write, and I’m on the shelves at Smiths and Waterstones, but somewhere in my heart is the eternal doubt that I’m just pretending to be a writer, that everything I write is no good and someday, someone will come along and tell me to grow up and do something important with my life…

And every day I ignore that voice in my head and keep writing…

Every day…

And if you're a writer, so must you…

Writing is like any other craft, you don’t learn it overnight, and those who think they’ve got it in one with no redraft, no edit, and no doubt…

Good luck to them, they’ve either already spend the ten thousand hours learning the craft, or they’re being wildly optimistic…

We all get the doubt, doesn’t matter how well or much we’ve written, doesn’t matter what we’ve achieved, where we’re published, or what we’re paid (although I suspect those who’ve earned millions might disagree that notion), we still doubt that anything we do is any good.

But it is…

And I thought about doing something for the Kickstarter Make/100 campaign on how to write a million words in a year, but I fear that most people wouldn’t be interested, because the core tenet of the whole project is just keep writing…

And I’m not sure if the world is ready to be told that…


Thoughts? 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Elite Dangerous RPG – How it differs from Traveller


In advance, I’ll admit to being an unashamed Elite Fanboy, loved it back when it first came out and enjoyed the various incarnations leading to the here and now.  For me the problem was always how you’d turn something that was very much a one player game, into something that you could play with many friends around the table.

I have to say, the solution made is quite an interesting one.

Characters are all created even, there are no random elements to how you make a character (unless you want to randomly determine what you were before you took to the stars), and so there’s no possibility that anyone will be complaining of unfairness.

Good start.

The next step is in choosing backgrounds, each of which will give the character a number of bonuses to their existing skill base, or an increase to starting funds, attributes, or implants/cybernetics.  There’s a broad range of previous careers, from Accountant to Secret agent and everything in between.  There’s a skill cap on starting characters, so people can’t super specialise from the off and it encourages a broader range of abilities to work with.

The next step is Karma Capabilities, which are special abilities that modify skills or give other special bonuses such as being able to use medkits more often or avoid target locks on your ship for a short time.

After this follows the round up points and filling in the scores, then choosing your starting equipment and ship.

What makes this interesting is that this system actively promotes the use of an NPC for each character, being the partner that helps them fly their ship.  It isn’t necessary to have a partner, but there are a number of rules for the creation of them, and it’s here that the game takes a significant diversion from Traveller.

Traveller for me was all about a group of people in a single ship forging their way out in the universe and trying to keep together whilst all about them was falling apart.  This game is very much about you being individuals who just happen to be flying the same stars, and that makes for a very different group dynamic for me.  I like the idea that you can have your second standing by in the ship while you go investigating a wreck, or that as a unit, you can approach a problem in space from (quite literally) several different angles all at the same time. 

While invariably as the game goes on, ships will change, equipment and loadouts will vary, but with all of you having your own ship, you can all continue in whatever direction you want to, without having to fit in with the rest of the party.  It’s possible to craft the entire of the party towards the sorts of missions you want to be doing, whether that’s combat support, heavy trading, or espionage, or have all of you remain as individuals who just happen to work together.  It also means that if you happen to lose someone in an adventure, bringing in a new player is as simple as putting out a call and having someone answer it.

How this changes things for me is that it’ll give the players a lot more choices over what they want to do, and correspondingly it’ll work the GM that much harder as a result, but if they’re up to the challenge, the rewards will be that much more as well.


Really looking forwards to this… 

Kickstarter can still be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edrpg/elite-dangerous-role-playing-game

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Good Opportunity for anyone wanting to work in RPG's



Just a signal boost from this end, Ed Jowett, head man down at Shades of Vengeance, is looking for someone to act as Line Developer on a new project

And yes, you heard that right, not just make art for it or write for it, but take control of the line and develop it in the way you want to.  Understandably he doesn't want to put the whole details for everyone to see, but he was looking to spread the word as far as possible.

For myself, I've known Ed a while, and he's one of the most driven people I know in the industry, he's always looking for the next game, the next book, so when I say that this position won't be the easiest in the world, I know what I'm talking about, but I do believe that anyone who's looking to work hard in the RPG industry (and if you're not, look elsewhere, this industry is harsher than Mega City One...), this is a really good opportunity to work with a well established studio with a good work ethic.

Those interested can talk to Ed direct at ed.jowett@shadesofvengeance.com, and the current works on offer from the studio can be found at http://www.shadesofvengeance.com/

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Possible lack of service on the convention front...



And if updates are a little late, or blog posts lack images for a short while, you can merrily put the blame down to BT, who seem to think that twenty days is a suitable timescale for someone to be out of internet.  Perhaps they think that if they just tell us not to complain enough, we’ll actually listen to them…

It’s not likely really, is it…?

Either way though, I have other sources of internet, normally less reliable than the one I’m presently paying for and not receiving, but they’ll do for now.  However, if the game you’re putting in for Expo isn’t immediately approved, don’t worry about it too much, it probably means I can’t load the page because I’m on pre 1996 levels of service, downloads in bytes, rather than KB or MB…

Although I did like the response they had to the initial query, which was “Have you tried looking on our website…?”

Look on our website…

When you haven’t got internet…

I did wonder if they were trolling me, but then figured that it’s (like all things BT) a standard response written on a script that someone was typing as an automatic response, but then you’ve got to wonder who thinks to put a standard response on like that…

And maybe this is the problem, I’m used to delivering a good level of customer service, both at my day job, and at the other jobs I do, I know what it’s like to be waiting for something and not getting it, and the worst thing of it is that most customer services treat it like it’s an inconvenience to them…

So, There’s an understanding here, and BT will likely find out about it shortly, because as I said to the person on the phone yesterday, it’s not them I’m annoyed at, nor the fact that they have to give the automatic responses (and by the way, note to consider here, telling me that I must be happy with the line you’ve just fed me is a really dumb line to get people to read out…), but I am annoyed at the company that requires those responses to be read out.

I like to think that the conventions I run, run on the best customer services. If there’s a problem, we get it sorted, if there’s an issue at any point, before, during, or after the con, you can bring it to any member of staff and they’ll deal with it, or they’ll escalate It to someone that will.  I believe that in all aspects of life, people respond to good efforts with good nature.

And it’s not easy, it never has been…

But the second you tell a customer that you don’t care, and that this is what it’s going to be, not that you’re going to try and do something, but that you’ve already decided they can put up with your lack of service, then you’ve lost the customer, whether immediately or in the weeks to come, you’ve lost them, and if they don’t show normal british reserve (which I’m about to abandon), and decide to tell the world about the lack of service, then you’ll find that the one client might not be all you’ve lost…

But then maybe you’re not bothered…

Maybe you have to lose a lot more people before you start to pay attention...


We’ll see…

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

On the subject of Mind Games


And I don’t mean the sort that humanity plays with itself on a regular basis, I’m referring to games where there’s no element of random chance in the game, where both players start with the exact same resources, and it’s whoever plays best on the day that comes away with the win.

I’ve been looking at this sort of game a fair bit more in recent times, it’s one of the hazards of running conventions, you get to see just how much of a thing random chance can be when there are things like Dice involved in the mechanics of the game.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love dice, but I love them for games where the outcome isn’t a challenge of skill between two (or more) people, and I have no doubt I’ll come to those sorts of games tomorrow.

For now though, I’m looking at games like Go, Chess, Hive, Mijnelieff, and in recent years, like Onitama and 3d pawn, games where the players all have access to the same resources, and so the game becomes a true matching of ability.

There are several things I like about these sorts of games.  

The first of which is that in almost all cases, the rules for the games are very simple, but the possibilities when the game is afoot are all but endless.  To me, this makes them the perfect games to get other people into gaming, because they won’t have to spend a year reading up on rules and icons before they can even get to the table, and that makes a world of difference in getting people over their initial hesitation.

Secondly, most of these games are undeniably tactile…

Years ago, I would not have considered this to be something that would enhance the feel of a game…

These days…?  I like playing with good pieces, I like playing with pieces that sum up the feel of the game, I enjoy the clacking of tiles, reminiscent of a Mah Jongg den as the players lay down their pieces.  I like the element of choosing the piece and considering it, it provides a more solid connection to the game for me, particularly when it’s appropriate to the game.  A side effect of this is that many of the mind game I play are also very easy to transport, usually fitting in a small bag.



Onitama for example, lovely pieces, all of which are appropriate for the game at hand, because even though it’s a representation of a martial discipline, it’s being done through monks, and all the pieces work well to that effect.
 
Rumours of me uttering Kiai when taking pieces are completely unfounded…
Last, but by no means least is the joyful point that there are far fewer arguments when playing this sort of game.  My personal theory on this is that because there’s no point in the game where you have an outrageous turn of fortune where your 27 attack dice certain win all failed to roll hits and your opponents five die Hail Mary pass turns into certain death.  This in turn leads to more people being accepting of the game result because everyone can see that the moves being made were done within the confines of the rules and neither player has anything to complain about other than their own performance.

I’ve never been to the Mind Olympiad, but I’m giving it some thought for this year, if nothing else, I want to see how these games operate when played at the highest level, if the sportsmanship that I’ve seen at the lower levels extends all the way up.


But I am interested in everyone else’s opinions of this sort of game and if you do play them, which ones are your preferred?

Monday, 9 January 2017

On the subject of Late Kickstarters


Yep, back on the Kickstarter thing, because I've been a little disillusioned of late with regards to the updates that have been coming through.  I know that it's likely because real delays had only occurred on a few of the Kickstarters I'd backed, and those weren't for large amounts of money and in many cases, were things I backed on a whim.

There have been a few in recent years that I backed not for me but for others, and I've found that when those kickstarters get delayed, I start to get annoyed...

I'm also going to stop backing video game kickstarters, because the potential for them to overrun with even the slightest provocation is colossal.  The exceptions to this will be anything done by Harebrained Games and similar companies who I know to be good for what they offer.

Meanwhile, today's rant will be for Paranoia...

Because I backed that for my brother, as a Christmas present for 2015...

And moreover, because we got another update today...

In which the publication date was pushed back yet further...

After we'd been promised that the goods would be in our hands for January 16th, good said I, for my brothers birthday is in February, so win for the win, better late than never, job done...

Apparently not...

Why not...?

Because despite having the proofs in hand in December and saying that the big button had been pressed to order all the other copies, instead what happened was that a second set of proofs were ordered, just to make sure everything was "Perfect..."

It's a bit less than perfect from where I'm bloody sitting, I'll tell you that...

I don't mind when things go wrong, Tell me...
I don't mind when the printers burn down, Tell me...
I don't mind when you overestimated your own ability, Tell me...

I do mind when you say you're going to do something and then do something else...
I do mind when you promise me something on a day and then don't deliver through nothing beyond your own bad decisions...

And above all

I do mind that you think I don't read the updates and so won't see that you're contradicting what you said before...

I do read the updates...
I sometimes wish I hadn't...
But I do read all of them...

So the date is now March, Sorry bruv, it'll have to be something else, but we'll get it eventually...

and hopefully it'll have six clones of itself in the box as a way of saying sorry for being so late....


Sunday, 8 January 2017

And the second part of the kit - The Paper...


So as part of the kit that I'll be taking from place to place, I need to have a stock of various types of paper so that people can try out how different inks feel on different papers.  This in turn means I have to stock a good variety to ensure that people know that when you're writing on Rhodia, it'll have a very different feel to when you're writing on bargain basement 65gsm photocopier paper.

So I present the various Ink Journals I'm taking with me, and again, if anyone has any ideas of good paper stock to carry for testing, please let me know...


The Izods DarkStar notebook


With what can only be described as very resilient paper.


Because I never leave home without it


Because it's so shiny...


And they both write so well...


The Tomoe river test journal (complete with writing from the last tester...)

And most of these fit inside the fauxdori I take most places with me, so they don't trouble me for adding them into the mix, I also have a Leuchturm A5 pad and a few cheap and cheerful scratchpads, but they're more for getting ink flowing in pens than they are for writing things in.

Anyone got any more to add?

Elite: Dangerous RPG: The Worse of Intentions Review

 

Well, with the discovery of Thargoids earlier this week, I thought it was about time I took a look at the latest itineration of the Elite: Dangerous RPG, specifically the adventure that’s been given for free download on the EDRPG.co.uk site.

It’s got to be said, the initial views look to be encouraging…

The adventure gives you what you need to run the adventure and get a look at the system, but not enough to play the game independent of the adventure. 

System is a D10 base with skill modifiers, simple target number to beat system but with the provision of Karma points that allow you to modify the results.  The trick however is to ensure that you don’t use up all the Karma points, as they could (literally) save your life if you have some remaining.

Layout and artwork is spectacular, all clean lines and sharp images, as you would expect from an official game with the backing of Frontier, but it’s worth mentioning that the people doing the game are a two man team on their first RPG, so the production values are really quite something to be noted.

The adventure itself is linear, the players are part of the Asellus Primus police force, sent to investigate a ship drifting without power in space.  On the way there, they intercept a distress signal from a ship under attack that they have the choice to assist or not, with consequences and bonuses for whichever action they take.  When they beat the pirates (or zip straight past them), they then board the drifting ship and find out that all is not well within system.



This in turn leads them to the base of the pirates and the reveal that some of the corporations in the world aren’t behaving in a manner appropriate to their corporate resolutions…

It’s well written, the encounters are clear and the rules are easy to follow.  I haven’t seen the character generation, but it is somewhat reminiscent of the Silhouette core systems used by Jovian Chronicles, which would be a perfect start for this man.

The thing here is that when most people are asked what system they would use to play Elite on the tabletop RPG scene, the immediate answer is Traveller, and you can see why that would be the case. So why would you want to go for something that isn’t Traveller, in order to play something that on the surface appears to be very much like Traveller, and the answer to that comes in the way this adventure has been put together. 

Elite: Dangerous is very much an action game, there are those who go out on vast long distance treks into the unknown, but the core of the game has always been trading, getting better ships, and going after that Elite status badge through whatever means.  If this adventure is anything to go by, it gets into the action, doesn’t let up, has plenty of plot and keeps the players occupied and while the space combat rules are never going to match playing the game itself, it captures well the feel of the game and the team making it have lots of ideas on where they want it to go and how they’re going to get there.


More details at www.edrpg.co.uk and we’ll be monitoring the kickstarter from here as it goes live.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Kit to get others writing...


So as part of what I'm doing in all the conventions I'm at this year, I'm taking along my writing kit and my spares kits, just so that if anyone decides they want to have a go at writing with a fountain pen, or even just decides they want to try writing with a decent pen.

I'll be ready...

The thing is that with a writing kit, you need to have all different possibilities accounted for, thin and thick barrels, light and heavy pens, fast and slow flow, and all things in between.  Ideally, you need to have these things covered in a kit that doesn't take a suitcase to carry with you.

And I should add that these aren't my every day carry, and I'll have that with me as well...


So, first of all, it's the pens, in this side of the pen case, we've got a Cross Century ballpen, Platinum Preppy 03 nib, Baoer fine nib, Polar pen with Hi-tec C 0.4 refill, Cross ATX, Sailor EF fountain Pen, two noodlers eyedroppers, Cross ATX (Chrome), Parker XL with hyperfine Ohto ballpoint refill, Parker jotters, Pilot cavalier EF nib


In this side, we've got Pilot penmanship with F nib, Platinum Preppy 02 nib, Ranga eyedropper M nib, Platignum varsity pressmatic with M nib, Signature M nib, Platinum brush pen, LAMY Al Star (3 nibs), TWSBI 580 with EF nib, Platinum Plaisir with 04 nib, Baoer with fine nib, Baoer with Medium nib, Tombow calligraphy brush pen.


Once we've identified the pen they like to write with, we see if inks are required, if they're using a ballpoint or gel pen, then I've got the standard sets of colours to work with, but if they've chosen a fountain pen, then we really get into it...  We've got Diamine Night Sky, Pelikan Brilliant Green, Pelikan Turqouise, Diamine Imperial Purple, Deep Dark Blue, Red Dragon, Deep Dark Orange, Asa Blue, Havasu Turquoise, Windsor and Newton Green and Black, Iron Gall Black, Noodlers Heart of Darkness.


And that brings us to the ink testing kit, wherein we've got three five different dip pens with over twenty nibs, ranging from ultra fine to 3mm broad, just so people get an idea of the way inks go down on the page and the difference between a broad nib and a narrow one.  The inks in test bottles here are different to the main Ink kits, being AM Frantic Flamingo and Sunset Canyon, then smaller testers of Super 5 Delhi, Dublin, Frankfurt, Dornstadt, Atlantic, and Australia, then Blue Black, Claret, Barbossa Grape, and Diamine shimmers Lilac Satin, Tropical Glow, Moon Dust and Blue Flame.

Many will note that there's a lot of cheaper pens in the kit, and that most of it is readily available, and it's that way for a reason.  I've found that when getting people into this sort of thing, it helps to put it in perspective that it doesn't cost a fortune to start off on the hobby.  It can if you let it go that way, and that why I've left things like TWSBI in there, so those who want to go straight in at that level have the choice, but for the most part, it's just getting people into the idea of writing again.

Any recommendations on things I might be missing that would go well with the set?

Friday, 6 January 2017

Nightmarium - A game about conquering Nightmares - Game Review


Sooo....  I back Kickstarters too much

Possibly...

That said, I don't back all the kickstarters that I look at (thank frag...), and I have a limit on the Kickstarters that I do back, they have to be delivering within a timeframe that I'm going to be around to collect in (so no backing Kingdom:Death), and they have to be at a price that I could afford to lose if there's no delivery on what was promised (so no backing Kingdom:Death), and most importantly...

They have to have a premise that interests me...

This is Nightmarium.

It's a simple game, all the players are trying to create a number of monsters, first one to create the right number of monsters wins the game.  Play is simple, each turn players get two moves, they can either

A) Draw a card
B) Discard a number of cards from their hand (no upper hand size) and draw half that many cards again.
C) Play a card.

Simple enough?
Mid Game
It really is, but the interesting part comes when the monsters are assembled.  You have to assemble the monsters in order, Legs, then Torso, then Head, and when each monster is assembled, you resolve all the icons on that monster in order, if you can't resolve an icon, you stop resolving all the other abilities on the monster and they go to waste.

The Icons are as follows:


And they're presented on the monsters in the top right corner.


So if you'd just completed the first monster on the panel below, you'd have to discard the top card from one of your monsters, then add the top card from any other players creature to your hand, then play one card from your hand to complete the creatures abilities...


And this is where it gets really interesting, because by discarding the top card from one of your monsters, you make it incomplete (which means you can score it again), if you were to take another head from someone else's monster, you'd then be able to play it with the last ability, which would complete a second monster, and then you have to resolve all the abilities on that monster, and so on.  If you complete a creature that has parts that are all the same colour, then as an additional bonus, the other players have to discard a card of the same colour (and if they have no card of that colour, two of any other colour.) as well as anything else that the icons dictate.


When any player completes the last monster in their lineup, that's the game.

It really is a simple game, you can learn it in a few minutes, but the infinite variation in creatures and abilities that can be found make for a very interesting game.  In the few games that we played, we found that the best strategy tends to be trying to get monsters put together quickly, but the key part of doing that is ensuring that the monsters you create actually have useful abilities when they are completed, or you might end up crippling your own strategy as you go...

The artwork is brilliant, even if some of the creatures that you create are a little haphazard, and finishing off monsters has to be done in the right order or you'll scupper your own plans, but it's an interesting game, and you have to keep a track on what the other players are creating as well as what you're up to in order to ensure that their completed monsters don't wreak havoc amongst yours.

Overall, it's an interesting game with a good premise and superb visuals, better played as a party game or short interlude, but it's definitely worth picking up a copy.