State of the SEP

It’s been quiet here—no surprise there—but I have been steadily moving forward on a collection of projects.

If you haven’t been tracking it, the Kickstarter for Nefertiti Overdrive 2.0 was successful. The text is written, but it’s now going through a cultural consultant, it then needs to go through an editor, get set for layout, and then have an index completed for it before it’s released. That’ll probably be the end of the summer or early fall 2024.


Nefertiti Overdrive 2.0: It’s Happening

Back in 2015, Sword’s Edge Publishing crowdfunded Nefertiti Overdrive: High Octane Action in Ancient Egypt. It has since been one of SEP’s most popular games. So much so, that we had an update in 2022. That’s only two years ago, but the 2022 update was a “soft” update—most of the text did not receive a revision or a review.

SEP is currently seeking to finance a real update of Nefertiti Overdrive, including having both a cultural consultant and an editor have a go at the text. Further refinement of the mechanics led to the decision to work on a further update, and the funds will also help to format a print version—which the soft update never had—including getting the text properly indexed.

If you have enjoyed Nefertiti Overdrive, I hope you’ll help us deliver Nefertiti Overdrive 2.0. Please consider supporting the Kickstarter or spreading the word about it.

You can find the Nefertiti Overdrive 2.0 Kickstarter at:

Here’s the Quickplay!

Overdriving with Nefertiti

Nefertiti Overdrive Cover

I’m back, and I’m bringing Nefertiti Overdrive with me!

Nefertiti Overdrive may be the game I’ve written that I hear about the most. It may be the concept—high octane action in Ancient Egypt. Maybe it’s the mechanics, heavily influenced by Cortex though not a Cortex game. Maybe it’s just the title. For whatever reason, people seem to remember Nefertiti Overdrive.

And I have a fondness for it to. It has generated some pretty amazing memories, with players really getting extravagant with the story-telling because they were not just given licence, but rewarded for doing so.

Why am I bringing up Nefertiti Overdrive? Because I am working on it again. I needed to do a print run, and in conversations with a very smart person, I decided I should crowdfund this and aim for offset printing and even a hardcover version.

If I’m going to crowdfund, I might as well take the chance to revisit the rules. My previous update did not fully satisfy me, and I had a lot of changes that I had noted needed to be made. Now I have a chance to make those changes. I’m in the process of doing that right now.

And since I’m crowdfunding, I can get some help improving the text. Maybe even get some more art—though I am hoping I can use the amazing art by Kieron O’Gormon from the original, which was really iconic.

However this happens and whatever form it takes, there’ll be a new Nefertiti Overdrive and there’ll be a Kickstarter to fund an offset print run.

You’ll see it here—or maybe on Bluesky—when this moves forward at all.

And if you have ideas for podcasts or anything like that you think I should get on, let me know and let them know too!

One Down But Work Continues

With Nefertiti Overdrive 2E out in the wild, my trifecta is down to a duology, and work is proceeding apace on both.

One note here is on print editions. The main cost for print editions—along with my time—is indexing. It is precise, painstaking work for which I am poorly engineered. If I would like someone else to do it, it comes at a cost—and SEP will only just start turning a profit this month. So, while print editions for Nefertiti Overdrive 2E and later Kiss My Axe may happen, they will be slow in coming.

Kiss My Axe is in the research phase, but this is also leading to some design decisions and evident changes in the mechanics and focus.

Image by Dmitriy Tereshchenko

Nefertiti Overdrive 2E

Cover of Get Netiqret

As mentioned earlier, I was working on updating Nefertiti Overdrive, tweaking the rules, focusing the characters more on Egypt and Egypt’s environs, and adding historical context. I’ve removed Get Netiqret as its own thing. When I first wrote Nefertiti Overdrive, I was heavily inspired by the design of Lady Blackbird, but what I released was not nearly as elegant or purpose-driven, and so I think it makes more sense to have Get Netiqret out there on its own.

I also removed the quickstart and released its adventure separate—but still for free now called Proof of Death.

It’s all complete and out now at Nefertiti Overdrive, Proof of Death, and Get Netiqret.

I feel better having got it all done. Research proceeds apace for Kiss My Axe 2E, and it is going to be a significant departure in character design if not in base mechanics from what exists now.


Nefertiti Overdrive Cover

It’s been a while since I’ve had any news, any information on new products, and that will likely continue for a while, but I don’t feel right if I’m not working on something, and I’m a little too old to change that.

I have three projects at various stages that I’m working on, two of which will likely see a release.

1) Nefertiti Overdrive 2E: I’m updating Nefertiti Overdrive, both changing the structure of the book, and altering the mechanics. I’m removing the adventure and having the book focused on the game itself. The adventure that was included in the 1E book—Get Netiqret–will be released separately but at the same time as 2E.


RPG Research: Sea Raiders Vs. Ugarit

Okay, so my most recent #RPGResearch post goes a little something like this:

In The Philistines and Aegean Migration at the End of the Late Bronze Age, Assaf Yasur-Landau references one of the most common primary sources on the Sea Peoples: letters using the medium of clay tablets that warn of raiding parties (p. 164). In one, the chief prefect warns the king of 20 enemy ships, while in another, the King of Ugarit relates to the King of Alashiya of sighting of seven ships and asks if that king has sighted other vessels.

In general, those ships are often said to likely be Sea Peoples, though there is no definitive proof. Piracy was not an uncommon profession, and a fleet of seven ships seems in line with what Homer has Odysseus speak of in the Odyssey, when Odysseus tells of fitting out nine ships for a raid (14.248).

If you are interested in the likely linkages of the Myceneans and piracy, have a look at Jeffrey P. Emanuel’s chapter “Odysseus’ Boat? New Mycenaean Evidence from the Egyptian New Kingdom” in Discovery of the Classical World: An Interdisciplinary Workshop on Ancient Societies.

If nine is the size of the fleet raised by what Homer would have us call a king, twenty does seem a significant threat if you are the lords of Ugarit. But how much of a threat?

Lionel Casson in his book The Ancient Mariners: Seafarers and Sea Fighters of the Mediterranean in Ancient Times, assesses that at the time of the Trojan War—the Late Bronze Age—ships would have 20-100 oars, with 50 being normal (pp. 38-39). Each of those oars would be manned by an individual who was also a warrior—basically your entire crew were marines. That would mean that seven ships could have 700 soldiers, but would more likely have 350, as the fleet would probably be made up of vessels of varying sizes. That major fleet that worried the chief prefect of Ugarit could have 2,000 troops, but even 1,000 is substantial given that the population of Ugarit has been extrapolated to be between 3,000 and almost 14,000 (see W. Randall Garr’s “A Population Estimate of Ancient Ugarit” in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research issue 266 from 1987).

And if Helen did have the face that launches a thousand ships? An army of 50,000 would indeed be terrifying—if utterly fanciful for the period.

RPG Research: Kushites in Egypt

Nefertiti Overdrive Cover

I’m not very vocal on Twitter—my main social media presence . . . if it even qualifies as that. One thing I’ve recently done is posted little history tidbits I learned while doing research for RPGs—either games or adventures. I’ve been posting them under the hashtag RPGResearch.

The most recent one comes for Dr. Donald B. Redford’s From Slave to Pharaoh: The Black Experience of Ancient Egypt which was research material for Nefertiti Overdrive.

This is from very early on in the books in which Dr. Redford recounts in general the connections and relationships between the Egyptians and the Kushites/Nubians. While the narrative of Kush as some kind of satellite/tributary of Egypt is now questioned—the two certainly had connections, but the Egyptians likely culturally adopted from the Nubians as much as they influenced development there. Still, there were expatriates of Kush living in Egypt, and Dr. Redford suggests that while they were segregated, there was also intermarriage and cultural assimilation, with Kushites holding some minor bureaucratic and courtly positions, as well as lesser priesthoods. (pages 6-9)

The mention of the Medjay is actually anachronistic for the Old Kingdom. Dr. Redford indicates that the Kushites were indeed linked to a gendarmerie known as the “kilt-wearers,” but that the term Medjay is attributed to the New Kingdom and was also a region in Lower Nubia. (page 20)

Dark Roads: A Centurion Adventure

It’s 272 of the Common Era, and the Emperor Aurelian has defeated King Cannabas and his Goths, but has abandoned Dacia. Now he marches on Palmyra. As his force crosses Anatolia, Aurelian calls his trsuted retainers to him, and assigns to them a secret mission: contacting an imperial agent in Ankyra, an agent who may have access to Queen Zenobia herself.

Deep in enemy territory, the retainers learn that the agent has disappeared. Captured, killed, hiding—the retainers don’t know. All they know is that the clock is counting down, their emperor is relying on them, and the forces of the Palmyrene Empire may be hunting them.

Because facing down a Gothic Army wasn’t exciting enough.

Dark Roads: A Centurion Adventure is a possible project slated for a vote on my Patreon.