State of the Edge

I’ve finished updating Sword’s Edge. I mean I’ve really finished. As in the Ashcan Edition has been sent off to the printers. This doesn’t actually mean that Sword’s Edge will be soon available at discriminating retailers near you. Those Ashcan Editions are specifically for Breakout Con in Toronto, running 10-12 March 2017 at the Holiday Inn at Yorkdale. I’ll be running three sessions of Lawless Heaven, my love letter to Korean action cinema using the updated Sword’s Edge rules, and the Ashcan Edition will be available there.

It’s an Ashcan Edition because it is not entirely complete. It has not been professionally laid out. It has not been professionally edited. It has not been professionally indexed. Does it need these things? Maybe not. The original didn’t have any of these. I would, however, like to have these, so I’m looking at costs and strongly considering Kickstarting once again. This would likely happen in April or May, but we’ll have to see.

Lawless Heaven is also done. Not only is it done in the sense that it is ready for me to run, it is also done in the sense that it could actually be published. If I Kickstart, it will likely be a stretch goal, because I would dearly love to have portraits for each of the characters and maybe some other art and a stretch goal might afford that. Otherwise, if Sword’s Edge heads out into the wild without Kickstarting, Lawless Heaven will likely follow it there.

So now I am working on updating Sword Noir: A Role-Playing Game of Hardboiled Sword & Sorcery. Most of the mechanical changes will follow those from Sword’s Edge, but there are also some idiosyncratic parts of Sword Noir – like Flaws, Reputation, and the magic system – that will need to be fit into the new rules. We’ll see how that goes.

Wish me luck!

And if you are at Breakout Con, come and say hi!

You can find out more about Breakout Con here.

You can find out more about Lawless Heaven here.

You can register for a game of Lawless Heaven at Breakout Con on Friday at 20:00, Saturday at 14:00, or Sunday at 11:00.

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Breaking Down Breakout Con

It’s been announced: I’m an industry guest at Breakout Con, running 10-12 March 2017 at Holiday Inn Yorkdale in Toronto. In case you were wondering, this is what I’ll be doing:

On Friday, I’m running a game of Lawless Heaven from 20:00 to 00:00. I heard somewhere that Friday nights were made for fighting. We’ll put that to the test.

On Saturday from 13:00 to 14:00, I’ll be moderating a panel. More on that when the schedule is announced by Breakout Con. Hopefully I can learn some stuff at the panel, because the lineup is stellar.

I’ll be moving from the panel directly to another game of Lawless Heaven, from 14:00 to 18:00. I should be very ready to run a good game after basking in wisdom at the panel.

Sunday morning from 11:00 to 15:00, I’ll be running the final session of Lawless Heaven for Breakout Con. This will be bittersweet, as it means another amazing Breakout Con will be drawing to a close and it’ll be a whole other year until there is another one.

What will you be doing 10-12 March?

You can learn about Breakout Con here.

You can learn more about Lawless Heaven here.

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What Is Lawless Heaven?

Lawless Heaven is a modern action adventure set in Ulsan, South Korea using Sword’s Edge RPG. The tagline is: Four cops. One hundred criminals. Countless broken bones.

I’ve actually made sure there are 100 criminals the PCs can beat up. That was a design goal.

In Lawless Heaven, three cops and an intelligence operative in South Korea’s industrial heartland face off against a local gang involved in a heroin smuggling ring. The cops have only one order: bust the ring, but no one realizes the true depth of this particular cesspool.

It’s a love letter to Korean action movies, and especially Nowhere to Hide. There are a few paragraphs in the text discussing my favourite movies in Korean action cinema, and some of the movies mentioned are The Man From Nowhere, A Bittersweet Life, and the Yellow Sea.

This adventure was designed as a convention game, so it runs in 3 to 4 hours. At present, there is no plan to publish it, but I am moving toward the idea of Kickstarting Sword’s Edge to recover costs, and this would make a good stretch goal.

Right now, the only way to get in on Lawless Heaven is to join me at Breakout Con in Toronto on 10-12 March 2017. I will be running a game on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning. I hope to see you there. Following Breakout Con, depending on interest, I might run some online games, especially if I end up Kickstarting Sword’s Edge with Lawless Heaven as a stretch goal.

You can learn more about Breakout Con here.

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Lawless Heaven

Sword’s Edge RPG has been updated. It’s ready to go. And the first place you can find it is at Breakout Con in Toronto 10-12 March 2017. I’m going to be running three games of Lawless Heaven using Sword’s Edge: Friday 10 Mar, 20:00-24:00; Saturday 11 Mar, 14:00-18:00; and Sunday Mar 12, 1100-1500,

In Lawless Heaven, three cops and an intelligence operative in South Korea’s industrial heartland face off against a local gang involved in a heroin smuggling ring. The cops have only one order: bust the ring, but no one realizes the true depth of this particular cesspool.

This game is inspired by Korean action cinema, and especially Nowhere to Hide, a 1999 actioner that is really style over substance but has some of the best acting talent working in Korea at the time and some amazing scenes.

Watch Breakout Con for information on how to register for these games. The con’s indie game store will also have Ashcan editions of Sword’s Edge RPG for sale.

I hope you are as excited as I am.

You can find out more about Breakout Con here.

You can find out more about Nowhere to Hide at Wikipedia and IMDB.

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Sales for Fourth Quarter 2016

Here we are at the outset of 2017 looking back on 2016. Last year, I did a few retrospectives of SEP in 2015, both sales data and general activities. I’m afraid I don’t have time for that, but here are the fourth quarter sales for SEP, the annual sales, and the total, all-time sales. Even with my enforced absence from game design due to enrollment in a Master’s program, there will be a release in early 2017. I’m even thinking about Kickstarting it to try to recover some of the costs upfront. It would have to be a fairly hands-off Kickstarter, and it might be interesting to see how that would pan out.

The only new product in 2016 was Starship Commandos, which was released in September and has done fine for a PDF-only release with no marketing. That was simply a game that was done that could be released fairly inexpensively. My one other game that is ready to go would need significantly more investment to bring it to market, and so that’s not going to see the light of day, possibly ever.

In any case, here is the sales data.

Sales for Fourth Quarter 2016 (Oct – Dec)
All sales venues

Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day, 1
Khorforjan Gambit, 1
Qalashar Device, 1
Raid On Ashkashem, 1

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 1
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 1

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 2
Covert Forces Redux, 1
In Her Majesty’s Service, 3

Other
Centurion, 3
Line Zero, 1
Nefertiti Overdrive, 4
Starship Commandos, 6

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers,
Kheufer Scrolls,
Kiss My Axe, 7
Suffer the Witch, 1
Sword Noir, 10

Sales for 2016
All sales venues

Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day, 1
Khorforjan Gambit, 1
Qalashar Device, 1
Raid On Ashkashem, 3

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 5
For Simple Coin, 1
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 1

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 2
Covert Forces Redux, 3
In Her Majesty’s Service, 6

Other
The Boltcutter, 4
Centurion, 16
Line Zero, 1
Nefertiti Overdrive, 48
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 54
Starship Commandos, 30

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 2
Kheufer Scrolls, 8
Kiss My Axe, 28
Suffer the Witch, 2
Sword Noir, 43

Total Sales to Date
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113), 42
Khorforjan Gambit, 122
Qalashar Device, 135
Raid On Ashkashem, 179

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 68
For Simple Coin, 6
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 40

Charity Products
Relief Effort, 55

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 111
Covert Forces, 100
Covert Forces Redux, 184
In Her Majesty’s Service, 159

Other
The Boltcutter, 4
Centurion, 197
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 43
Line Zero, 40
Nefertiti Overdrive, 113
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 652
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 430
Starship Commandos, 24

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 156
Kheufer Scrolls, 203
Kiss My Axe, 229
Suffer the Witch, 97
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 1669
Sword Noir, 677

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The Incredible Sound of Hulk Music

I’m introducing some co-workers to the joys of role-playing. They have never played an RPG before, but have heard of D&D. At our Christmas Party, my hobby was brought up and when I explained it, there was sincere interest, so I offered to run a game at lunch in the New Year. I’m going to use my updated Sword’s Edge RPG even more streamlined than usual (I’m removing Background as an Aspect, which means there will just be fewer things for them to think about when acting).

I asked about their favourite movies, and then corrected myself and asked in which intellectual they would most like to be a hero. I got the Sound of Music and the Incredible Hulk.

Maybe a little prettier than Aaron Eckhart in I. Frankenstein.

My plan is to set it the game in 1938 Austria, as in the movie, but this is not exactly our world. There is super-science in this one. And the family are the ancestors of Victor Frankenstein’s mentor at the University of Ingolstadt. The colleague who wanted to be the Hulk is going to the eldest son in the family who was very sickly and might have died as a child, but his mother uncovered her ancestor’s research and science to save him. Now when he rages, he becomes more powerful, but loses most of his faculties.

My other colleague was thinking of playing a nun, but perhaps one who has spiritual powers and is able to communicate if not control the son when he is in his monstrous form. The Nazis are still seeking the father, or maybe the son, but now there is also the suspicion that the family is hiding secrets – which it absolutely is. The connection to Frankenstein’s mentor might be revealed as the Nazis seek weapons to use in the expected coming war.

We’ll see how this all plays out, but I’m excited both to explore this story and introduce new people to RPGs.

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The Wall: Rules Developing

This post is one of a series describing the design of a prospective RPG called the Wall. You can find more posts here.

In writing the text for the actual game, I came across a further problem with the rules as they existed. There is a carrot and a stick in regards to Fist: it is the easiest to succeed with, but failure has heavier penalties than the other Tools. Also, while d4 is more likely than the other dice to provide a re-roll, the likelihood of success is so much lower that this is not an advantage, so presently Eyes is the most difficult Tool to use. That should be Heart – as careful planning may not work as well as force, but it is generally a better approach than just persuasion.

“MedievalStreet” by Nickolay Khoroshkov

So, the dice for each need to be changed (the easiest change) and each should have an advantage and/or a disadvantage commiserate to the ease of use.

In the first place, Fist will remain d8, but Eyes will be d6, and Heart will be d4.

Fist already has an advantage (likelihood of success) along with a disadvantage (both an increase to the Threat and the degradation of a Condition on failure).

So, right now, Eyes isn’t as useful as Fist, but is certainly more useful than Heart and it doesn’t carry a disadvantage. I think that works. That balances it.

In order for Heart to be attractive – being the most difficult to gain a Success – it needs an advantage. Let’s have Heart provide a free Sympathy to spend (which is useful only with the Dispossessed) and when a PC Prevails (even with a Negotiation), Distance decreases by 1. This makes Heart extremely useful when interacting with the Dispossessed, and even provides a bonus when used with other Factions, given the impact on Threats.

It think that works. I like that Heart now becomes the best Tool to use with the Dispossessed but is not particularly useful with the Elite or the Occupiers, which to me is pretty much correct.

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