Sword Noir Rising

This weekend I’ve had a couple of moments in between preparing for a move in early August. It’s mostly been in the morning along with my coffee, so it’s been pretty productive. At this point, I’ve completed updating the mechanics section in Sword Noir, and I’m delving into the GM section. This will give me a chance to discuss explicitly the sharing of narrative control I use in my games. I was much more clear in Kiss My Axe about how I run Sword’s Edge System – as it became known – and this will give me a chance to do so in Sword Noir.

by Ed Northcott

I am also thinking about removing Everthorn as part of the core book and publish it separately along with the different adventures written for it – the intro adventure in Sword Noir, the Kheufer Scrolls, and Crossing the Millers. Given how abstract Sword Noir is, the setting and series of adventures might sell better separately. It wouldn’t be system neutral, but I think it could be an excellent resource for any RPG.

This won’t be appearing any time soon, because I believe that very soon my quiet moments are going to be fewer and farther between. That said, I’ve finished a freelance assignment, have put Starship Commandos in for layout, and am updating Sword Noir, so I’ve been pretty productive on my break from my MA program.

On a side note, updating Sword Noir has reminded me that I actually really like the system. I think I’m going to get back into running it after leaving it for about five years.

Ottawa Game Publishers Podcast

Three other local designers and I were sitting down for drinks and it all got recorded. We’re going to see if there is interest in yet another podcast, this time about game design and publishing. The first episode is available on the Accidental Survivors feed. If this turns out to be fun or there is some actual interest in this, it might become a regular occurrence and then it’ll find it’s own home. For now, since the Accidental Survivors have kind of folded, it seemed like an okay idea to release it there.

You can find the episode here.

Lots of Accidental Survivors episodes here.

GMs Should Not F#$k With Player’s Characters

For the Screenplay playtest group, we had what was intended to be the last game in our High Plains Samurai campaign. Didn’t turn out that way, mostly because of a late start and a couple of extended rules discussions. Turns out, I have very strong opinions about protecting player agency in regards to their characters.

GMs should not fuck with player’s characters.

The first incarnation of my character Mauser as envisioned by Kieron O’Gorman.

For me, the character is the one part of an RPG that the player truly owns. Even if the player is involved in creating the campaign (in something like Spark, or the campaign creation system in Nefertiti Overdrive) or has shared narrative control, it’s not the same as the player’s character. The character is the player’s avatar in the game, it is the focus of the player’s wish-fulfillment in some cases or a finely crafted drama-machine for the player’s interests in others. In games in which all other aspects of the story is taken away from the player, the character is the focus of the player’s creative efforts.

The character is the player’s.

Now, in consultation with the player, the GM can certainly mess with that character. If the GM has an idea to create drama, excitement, or pathos, and the player is onboard with this, awesome. Who doesn’t love a chance to increase the importance of the character to the plot? But don’t do this without the player’s buy-in.

I would honestly refuse to play a game in which the GM could permanently effect change on a player’s character without that player’s consent. And, honestly, that includes death. I, personally, am okay with my characters getting killed -though I would prefer it be done in a suitably dramatic fashion -but I honestly don’t believe that death must be a viable option in order to create tension. Did anyone honestly believe any of the main characters in the X-Files could die? Or Star Trek? Did that remove tension?

But that’s kind of a whole other story. If the player isn’t happy with offering up their character for death, it shouldn’t be forced on them. That isn’t fun and the whole point of this exercise is fun. Why would we do something that isn’t fun for one of the members in our group? Don’t be a dick.

In the end, the player character is the player’s character, and it should be sacrosanct. In many games, the GM has all the other power, and it is unnecessary to give them power over PCs.

In my (not so) humble opinion.

Todd had me take over Broken Ruler Games to tweet the proceedings. The deluge starts here.

You can find more information on Screenplay here.

You can find more information on High Plains Samurai here.

Sales for Second Quarter 2016

Things are more than a little quiet over in Sword’s Edge Publishing land, but Nefertiti Overdrive continues going strong, which is very nice. There’s not much to say other than this is likely the new normal. I would expect Nefertiti Overdrive sales will slow to something like Sword Noir‘s once we hit a year of its release (which will happen in Oct 2016). At least I’m not losing money.

Sales for Second Quarter 2016 (Apr – Jun)
All sales venues

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 1

Covert Forces
In Her Majesty’s Service, 1

Centurion, 4
Nefertiti Overdrive, 22
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 28

Sword’s Edge System
Kiss My Axe, 7
Sword Noir, 6

Total Sales to Date
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113), 42
Khorforjan Gambit, 12
Qalashar Device, 135
Raid On Ashkashem, 177

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 65
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, 183
In Her Majesty’s Service, 159

Centurion, 186
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 43
Line Zero, 40
Nefertiti Overdrive, 80
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 627
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 430

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 154
Kheufer Scrolls, 199
Kiss My Axe, 218
Suffer the Witch, 95
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 1669
Sword Noir, 649