Lawless Heaven at CanGames

Are you going to be in Ottawa this weekend? If so, do you want to kick some ass in Ulsan? Then “Lawless Heaven” would be your jam.

I’ll be running “Lawless Heaven” on Saturday at 14:00 and Sunday at 09:00 this weekend (20 & 21 May).

In case you don’t know, “Lawless Heaven” is my homage to South Korean action cinema using my recently Kickstarted RPG Sword’s Edge. Seats are still available.

You can find the schedule here.

You can find CanGames here.

Here‘s a quick rundown of “Lawless Heaven”

And you can find out more about “Lawless Heaven” here.

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Ballad of a High Plains Samurai

As I’ve mentioned a few times in a few places, I’m working on a fiction commission. It’s done and dusted, handed in and awaiting editing. It’s also okay for me to let people know what it is.

I’ve written a four-part story outlining the early history of Black Scorpion, a major figure in High Plains Samurai. Black Scorpion is a legendary bandit who once challenged the warlords hold on the One Land, and the story I’ve finished takes her from childhood to the final battle between the Desert Sun gang, with Black Scorpion as its chief, and the warlords of the Five Cities.

I’ll let you know when and where you can read the fiction when that information becomes available, but it’s probably best to follow Broken Ruler Games for all the breaking news. You might notice, if you are checking up on High Plains Samurai, that there is a stretch goal for fiction with my name attached. This would be a continuation of the four-part saga which would reveal more about my version of Black Scorpion.

And I would say my version, because if you are playing or running High Plains Samurai, your Black Scorpion might be different. Your One Land might be different. For me, it is a place where the weak cannot hope for justice and order is the same as submission. For me, Black Scorpion began as an outcast and became the most powerful warlord in the One Land, becoming such a threat that the other warlords united against her. For me, Black Scorpion is a tragic hero who desires justice but is fuelled by rage. In a world in which justice is absent, she is left with her rage.

So I hope you’ll enjoy it when its available, and I hope you’ll support High Plains Samurai, a fantastic game and a fantastic setting.

You can find out more about High Plains Samurai here.

You can find Broken Ruler Games here.

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This Is How (What) We Do It

After having a fair break with minimal pressure following the success of the Sword’s Edge Kickstarter, with the payments in, project management has started. But that’s not all. There are a bunch of other projects on which I am working, and here’s a general overview of what I’m working on and what stage it’s at.

Sword’s Edge: So the text is off for editing, and I have both the indexer and the fulfillment locked in. Right now, I am finishing off the setup for BackerKit and once that is running, this will move to project management, which means long periods of monotony punctuated by spurts of effort.

Fiction Commission: I can’t say more until this happens, but I am updating a fiction commission that I had thought was done. That’s okay, because the reason for the revision is one I whole-heartedly support. It has kind of changed how certain characters should be impacting on the story, but it is totally manageable and I’m happy with how this is turning out.

More to follow when I can.

“Lawless Heaven”: This is going to happen. It is actually very close to being in presentable form. Unfortunately, I won’t have portraits for the pre-made characters, but I do have some art for the book and most of the text is written. I will be doing some tweaking with it before it is released, but it won’t actually hit the public until after Sword’s Edge is released as a PDF – which will likely be November 2017, a month after the Kickstarter backers get theirs.

“Face ‘Splosion”: Another Sword’s Edge adventure, this time a science-fiction high octane actioner heavily inspired by Borderlands and especially Borderlands 2. Like “Lawless Heaven,” this will be released after Sword’s Edge hits the public, but this requires more work. The adventure and pre-made characters are all ready, but I need to write the other text that will be included, like an introduction, an explanation of the genre, and a discussion of the intended setting in case this will become the intro to a wider adventure.

Head Crushers: Another role-playing game, but this one is at the intersection of Nefertiti Overdrive and Sword’s Edge. Its default is fantasy, and it was designed to replicate the Skull Kickers comic, which was itself based on RPG sessions. The writing on this one is done, but it’s going to sit on the backburner for now, though I have plans to release it.

The Wall: And yet another RPG, but this one far and away from anything I’ve done before. Rather than fast, high octane action, the Wall is much more about creating narrative scenes. Its subject – the difficulties of being a foreign occupier in an unfriendly city – screams for deep thinking and drama rather than hacking and slashing. The mechanics on this one are ready, but there is a lot of writing to get it ready to hit the public. The intention, though, is there.

“The Nor’Westers”: This is a Sword’s Edge campaign set along the North West Company’s fur trade route in Canada in 1810. This campaign is made up of short scenarios, and so needs to be fleshed out more with lots of supporting text. This will likely be the last of the Sword’s Edge supplements that will be put out as it needs the most work. This is very much a backburner project. Once Sword’s Edge is out, this will take a higher priority.

Sword Noir: I paused on the updates for this, my first RPG, but much of the mechanics revision is done. There is a lot more, though, because the included setting of Everthorn needs much more work than the SN mechanics do. For now, SN is going to follow Sword’s Edge, but with its own special differences. Everthorn, however, needs a very major overhaul in regards to characters, and I have considered releasing the mechanics separate from the setting.

Nefertiti Overdrive: The historical addendum to this game is growing, but I am still in the middle of research on the 25th Dynasty. This is scheduled to happen after Sword Noir is done, so likely not for a while. A cool part of this project is that I have an actual Egyptologist who has agreed to review my work. For those who wanted more history in their insane action, this should go a long way to scratching that itch.

Crowd-funding: One of the ways in which these projects might see fruition is through Patreon. I have been toying with the idea for a long time, and I think as a system it works better for me than Kickstarter. All of the projects listed could be Patreon projects – some of which might be released in components rather than a single work. I need to get enough in order that I will have a regular release schedule, so this is not something that will likely happen for a couple of months, but I think it makes sense. It is also a way to release my games and supplements in advance of Sword’s Edge hitting the public.

So, yeah, I’ve got a few things on my plate.

Whew!

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Burying Games in a Shallow Grave

I have amassed a fair number of RPG PDFs. Some are free previews and quickstarts. Some are games I have purchased for themselves, some are Kickstarters, some are parts of bundles, and some are from Bundles of Holding. Most of these have been acquired for their mechanics. I have never been big on settings or genres because that’s kind of what I love doing. That hasn’t always been the case, but right now I would much rather research and design a game about . . . I don’t know, let’s say special operations forces or Roman legionaries, than buy what someone else has done.

So my interest is almost exclusively in mechanics.

I have been going through these PDFs and looking at the mechanics. I’m saving those that have something really interesting. For others, I’m saving those pages that have the basic mechanical information. For most, though, I’m deleting them.

I’m not deleting them because they are bad games. I’m not deleting them because I don’t like them. I’m not deleting them because I believe I made a mistake when I acquired them.

I’m deleting them because I’m not using them right now and I can always recover them.

See, that’s one of the nice aspects about PDFs. In general, these come from sources to which I can return if I want them. And if they aren’t, there are lots of places I can store them out of the way where I can get them if I want them, like cloud storage or a USB.

And while ripping pages out of my print copy of Night Witches should lead to some kind of traumatic punishment, copying and saving some pages from my PDF to use as reference isn’t a problem – as long as I’m not sharing them or something.

As much as I love books on a shelf, I’ve become very fond of PDFs for RPGs. They are generally more useful to me.

You can find print and PDFs of my games here.

You can find PDFs here.

You can find Night Witches here.

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Crushing Heads Can Be Fancy

I was organizing my files, removing doubles, verifying I had the most recent working files, and considering old files on which I had stumbled. One such file was a project that started in 2013 and was shelved in 2015. It’s been known as F#ck You Up and Fancy Pants, but it ended its development as Head Crushers, an homage to the fantastic comic Skullkickers.

I shelved the project because it never truly did what I wanted it to do. It was fine, but didn’t actually nail the fast, furious fun that was its goal. It was fast, and it was furious, but not enough. I wanted something that ran faster and was simpler than Nefertiti Overdrive or Sword’s Edge. At the time, Head Crushers didn’t do that.

Looking at it again after I had left it for a couple of years opened a couple of doors. I realized that the problem was I had locked myself in a specific paradigm of game flow, and simply tweaking how the game ran started the road to simplifying it and making it run faster.

But what of it? I mean, I just finished Kickstarting Sword’s Edge, so what will I do with Head Crushers?

There are always options, but right now it and the Wall are simmering away, perhaps on the back burner, but ready to get moved to the front and supply a feast. I just need to figure out the venue.

You can find out more about Fancy Pants here.

You can find out more about Skullkickers here.

You can find out more about Skullkickers creator here.

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Sword’s Edge Funded

It has happened.  RPG has funded. We didn’t hit the stretch goal of getting art for “Lawless Heaven,” but I’m not about to complain. Assembling the team to help get this out right now and updating the text before sending it to editing.

That’s pretty cool.

And there’ll be more information to come, as I’ll be using Backerkit to offer pre-orders.

I love it when a plan comes together.

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Modern Sword’s Edge

This is the final in a selection of examples from different genres I’ve run using Sword’s Edge, which is presently in the middle of Kickstarting. Which you have, of course, backed. I mean, you’re reading this, which is about this game, and this game is awesome, so you’ve backed it. It’s only logical . . .

This time, let’s look at the present day.

The second game I am running right now with Sword’s Edge is a modern actioner in which the PCs are member of Canadian Special Operations Force Command who have been called into a central African nation due to the disappearance of a CANPER (Canadian Person) of political value. So far, it’s been mostly investigative, but fireworks have been promised and they will happen.

Hear that guys? Lock and load.

The rebel fighters, the official militia and the government paramilitary are all basically the same, and these are the minions our boys will be crossing as some or all of them attempt to impede the rescue of that CANPER.

Rapid Support Forces
(Basic minion) 8
Concept: Fake Tough, +2

They turned to a local fixer who had connections with most of the dominant cultures of the region, and she’s got them audiences with some bad people who nevertheless might be helpful. You’ll notice she’s not a standard Regular, and I find that sometimes one needs a Regular+ when the character isn’t necessarily expected to be boss (or Hero) level.

Amira Ishag
(Good regular) 17
Concept: Face, +2
Physique -2; Charisma +2; Cunning +2

Finally, the team has not yet started along the trail that will lead them to the CANPER, but one of the obstacles they will have to overcome is a notorious mercenary, someone who could challenge them when the bullets start to fly but isn’t too dangerous.

AKA Notorious Mercenary
(Average hero) 12
Concept: Merc, +4
Physique +4; Charisma +2; Cunning +0
Gunman (Phy) +4, Intimidation (Cha) +2

So those are a few modern NCs one might find in many of the world’s hotspots. There’s plenty more where that comes from as I have a few adventures I can publish once Sword’s Edge comes out.

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Sword’s Edge in the North West

I have been posting examples of different genres using the Sword’s Edge rules both here and on the Kickstarter. You have backed the Kickstarter, right? Right?

So far, I’ve done a Roman alternate history and a fantasy example. This time, let’s look at a more recent historical period.

The Nor’Westers was a game I just finished with one of my home groups. The story is set in 1810 in Canada and focuses on an uprising along the fur trade route used by the North West Company. The PCs were trouble-shooters linked to Angus Shaw, one of the partners in the North West Company and brother-in-law to NWC head William McGillvray. After the kidnapping of the daughter of Alexander Turnbull and shooting of Turnbull, the PCs are sent to track down the kidnappers and free Turnbull’s daughter, which drops them right in the middle of the action.

“Canoes in a Fog, Lake Superior” by Frances Anne Hopkins

The minion in this case is just one of the Thugs used by the uprising.

Ash’s Goons (Basic minion) 8
Concept: Shootist, +2

The regular is one of the townsfolk in Wrightsville (what became Gatineau, across the river from Canada’s capital of Ottawa) and an ally of the PCs, Ezekial Wright.

Ezekiel Wright (Good regular) 17
Concept: Businessman, +2
Physique -2, Charisma 0, Cunning +2

The hero is one of the first boss-fights the PCs faced, a quiet murderer who went by the name Tom River.

Tom River (Great hero) 23
Concept: Fiend, +4
Physique +2, Charisma 0, Cunning +4
Quiet Warning (Cha) +4; Hidden Blade (Cun) +2

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Face ‘Splosion on a Sword’s Edge

The last posts included campaign scenarios with Swords Edge in an alternative history and then a straight fantasy setting. This time, let’s look at something closer to science fiction.

This is being cross-posted as an update to the Sword’s Edge Kickstarter, running until 20 April 2017.

Ive been sharing some of the genres in which Ive used Swords Edge, and these are generally outside, or at least different, from those provided in the text. This time, its kind of sci-fi, but really its a computer game adaptation.

One of the adventures Ive written for Swords Edge is a science fiction actioner. Ive been a fan of Borderlands for quite some time, as you may have noticed if you’ve read this blog for any length of time. I had developed a simple system to replicate the shoot em up style of play, but it didnt really work as I wanted. Swords Edge is one way of doing it, so here are some of the narrative characters I created to mess up PCs in Face Splosion.

Assault Bots (Average minion) 12
Concept: Killer-Bot, +2

The Assault Bots are the cannon-fodder, sent in to get blown up real good by the PCs. Theyre minions, so one shot is one kill, but at Average, they arent complete push-overs.

At another point, the PCs will need to crack a secure program, and instead of just having intrusion countermeasures electronic, the system has an actual AI providing the security.

AI (Good regular) 17
Concept: Digital Ninja, +2
Phy -2; Cha 0; Cun +2

At one point, the PCs face up to the underboss, a kind of boss fight but not the big boss. This is Helmut, the brain of the big bads bodyguard put into a robots body. Hes definitely tuned up to ruin someones day.

Helmut (Good Hero) 17
Concept: Cyborg Warbot, +4
Phy +4; Cha +2; Cun +0
Heavy Armour (Phy) +4, Rocket Launchers (Phy) +2

So those are three of the characters that the PCs on Anesidora will run into in my own little version of Borderlands.

You can find the Sword’s Edge Kickstarter here.

You can find out more about Sword’s Edge here.

You can read about my obsession with Borderlands here.

My attempts are Borderlands RPGs are referenced here.

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Fantasy on the Sword’s Edge

The last post was about a campaign scenario with Swords Edge in an alternative history setting. This time, let’s go straight fantasy.

This is being cross-posted as an update to the Sword’s Edge Kickstarter, running until 20 April 2017.

One of my ongoing games is a fantasy set in an alternate Korea in which the PCs are villagers in the far north, on the edge of civilization, whose village becomes the target of dark forces. Strange beings attack the village and carry off most of its inhabitants, and the PCs heroically seek to free their neighbours and confront the evil.

Im going to share the evil shaman narrative character and then two challenges the PCs faced. Challenges are built the same as narrative characters, its just that they are not individuals, they are obstacles. In this case, each success changed the narrative somehow. But first, the evil shaman.

Parnai (Good regular) 17
Concept: Sorcerer, +2
Physique -2; Charisma +0; Cunning +2
Command the Dead (Cun) +2; Eye of the Snake (Cun) +2

The sorcerer is a regular in order to leave him somewhat vulnerable he can survive three Stress before being removed from the scene but he is provided with Elements to represent his magic.

And the obstacles. Im going to include all the notes I made for each obstacle as well, to help give a better idea of how these run.

Tracking the Beast (average regular) 12
Concept: Path of the Wolf, +2
Physique+2; Charisma +0; Cunning-2

If not PCs have skills that can track the wolf, just have the players provide a narrative explanation for how they track it.

Success in “Tracking the Beast” reveals 1) What becomes obvious is that it was likely a wolf that took the child, though a wolf larger than any you have ever seen. 2) The wolf ran on four legs, not two, and it looks like it is dragging the child. 3) The wolf weighed around 400kg (880 lb) when it is rare for a wolf to weigh more than 55 kg

Path of Desolation (Poor regular) 5
Concept: Path in Darkness, +2
Physique+2; Charisma +0; Cunning-2

For each Success against the obstacle, the PCs learn one fact: 1) You easily discern the booted feet of soldiers the villagers all wear rope sandals or shoes, even in the winter (feet are bundled against the cold). 2) Although the tracks are not clear given the number of feet, you would guess there were maybe 25 or 30 soldiers and perhaps double that number of villagers. 3) They are moving at speed and the villagers are unlikely to keep this pace for long.

So there you have some examples of narrative characters for a fantasy campaign.

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