Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Siege is now available

Two years after I announced that I was going to do it, Siege is finally available to you. You can get it as a free PDF download, or if you'd like a snazzy printed booklet you can buy one through Lulu. Details are on the Siege page.

I was going to tell a story about those two years, but really, that's guff for another time. Buy me a tea and I'll tell you about it.

Instead, you should get your copy and play it. Then tell me about it.

Siege cover art

Oh my. It's the front cover art for Siege.


That worked out better than I'd hoped. Now, to make it print like it looks on the screen.

Week of Pain Relief

The weekend of pain went OK, but not brilliantly. I hit a snag when it came to art. This is my first game, though, and it's really supposed to be about the game rather than the document.

I want a pretty document, for sure, but not for this edition of this game. Either I learn it, or I pay someone to do it. That'll be a production decision for another game.

Speaking of which, I have two in my notebook for when Siege is done.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Weekend of Pain

To be honest, it won't actually be painful. It will be, however, the final push to get Siege out the door. My plan is to have the last tweaks tweaked (they're mostly grammatical and stylistic) and a PDF created for upload to Lulu.

I'm going to make it available as print-on-demand, just in case someone wants a neat little booklet. I like the booklet format. For me, I want to convey a simple game that can fit snugly in a bag without causing spinal problems for gamers. Some of my favourite games are booklets, or would make sense as booklets.

And also, I have no skilz with graphics or layout, so I'm not going to betray my game with a woeful attempt at sexy packaging. One default Lulu-wizard cover for me.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

New facebook group for Australian game designers

With the recent closure of The Stockade, I see another group has appeared to fill that niche. If you're on facebook, go see Australian Game Designers.

This is good news, and not just because there is something rather than nothing, but also because it has people involved that I've never encountered before. That can only be a good thing for the Australian game design scene.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Session 8

Bram awakens in the refuse pits outside Liguelen to find himself scorned and feared by the people of the town. Refused entry into Liguelen because he is "Ithnel's Cursed" he staggers his way back towards Foxglen. His travel is marked by a pause at a creek where he bathes and sees, for the first time, the curse of Ithnel branded into his forehead. Desperately in need of sustenance and care, he eventually finds refuge with some peasant farmers. After some small talk and banter, Bram uncovers that the peasant and his wife are cultists of the nameless Dark Lord. They examine the mark on his forehead and offer to take him to their powerful priest, hidden in the nearby village of Foxglen.

Sophie has safely returned to the village and makes two key decisions. First, she drives her workers to continue making goods for the upcoming war, despite the cashflow problems that this causes. Second, she diverts her faith away from Bram as the true prophet and towards Cambruach himself. Intent on becoming a disciple of the gods of Foxglen, she presses closer with High Priest Elric and Priestess Fier. Sophie is also a hostess of mixed results as she and Darwin begin the rituals of welcoming the new wife into the family. Claire, niece of the village chief, is to be married to Darwin as his second wife within a week.

Dark lords and gods of nature are set to be honoured in Foxglen at the same time. Religious fervour is set to reach new heights as these deities and their followers embark on faithful endeavours of worship.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Session 6 to 7

This version of the story has a little overlap with my previous post, so bear with me. My memory about it is a little hazy and is reconstructed from Peter's notes. As always, Peter and David can fill in some blanks that I left out.

Sophie had discovered terrible conspiracy and unfaithfulness among the leaders of Liguelen scant hours before the pilgrimage was due to leave. Upon returning to the caravan to tell the Prophet Bram, she learned that he had not been seen for several hours. A search of the city failed to find him and served instead to spread rumours about his disappearance.

Disillusioned but still hopeful, Sophie returned with her husband to Foxglen, stopping often to ask others if they'd seen Bram. When back in Foxglen, the stark reminders of life - running the leatherwork business and a new wife coming to the family - collided with her religious zeal. Her contemplations at the temple led her towards a vital decision, a decision she must now make.

And what of Bram? After retiring to his meditations and then disappearing? What has become of him? He's fled; he's defrauded the gullible; he's been taken by the gods; he's been abducted by the prince... the rumours are many and wild, and they're out there. And somewhere, so is Bram.

Sessions 4 to 6

Our protagonists made their way to the large city of Liguelen, along with Sophie's husband (Darwin) and his trade caravan. Bram looked to gain legitimacy from the priests here, in the seat of power. Sophie wanted to help sell her new military-style leathergoods to the generals, along with Darwin's other commodities. What they found was trouble and complication.

Bram's encounter with the local authorities, religious and political, was less than helpful. His brash demeanour and fervent devotion to building unity and faithfulness led him into arguments with the generals and priests. One general in particular was Sohpie's brother-in-law, married to Sophie's sister Gloriana. Gloriana was, we learned, the favourite child who was even more elegant and graceful than Sophie. She was married into nobility (the general) to help further the family name. This time around, it didn't help matters much that she invited Darwin, Sophie and Bram to stay with her without her husband's knowledge.

The tension in the house is palpable. Darwin and the general are engaged in trade talks in the palace while Bram and Sophie are pursuing the holy task given by Cambruach. After failing to contact Ithnel in the local temples, they decide to make pilgrimage to him in the nearby mountains. The day of the pilgrimage, however, Bram goes missing. Sophie searches the city for him and hears all kinds of rumours: Bram has been taken by the gods, has fled with people's money, has been imprisoned by the prince... Whatever's happened to him, the pilgrimage is cancelled. Sophie continues to search for him at the temple and discovers, to her astonishment, that the priests and sorcerers are researching all kinds of magic - magic that does not align with how people are born, magic that is dark and forbidden - in order to win the coming war. The holy men and wizards believe they are obedient to Ithnel's divine command to be industrious, learning about new magics and creating weapons of war from that new knowledge. Sophie talks with a young curate, learning that Ithnel is quite hostile to some of the schools of magic being used in this research. The two of them pray for forgiveness and receive a sign from the heavens, a powerful wind that swirls around the temple.

There is no sign of Bram, the city is unfaithful even to their own god, and Darwin's business has concluded. Sophie has had some good times with her sister, punctuated by tension over her religious devotion to Cambruach and being Bram's disciple. Now it is time to leave. Darwin has no time to wait for Bram, and the caravan sets off, leaving Bram to his uncertain fate.

Editorial: I hope Peter and David will embellish this in the comments with their own notes.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Neo-scrabble

In the middle of a game of Words With Friends, I looked at some of the two-letter words that the in-game dictionary allows and realised that I don't know what they all mean. It's just a two-letter word to make up some points. So I made up a Scrabble variant.
  1. Use and receive letter tiles in the same way as normal Scrabble, and generate scores the same as in normal Scrabble.
  2. When you play a word, it must be a completely new word that doesn't exist in English (or the language of your choice). To complete the neologism, you must write in secret the definition of that word and then announce to the table a sentence with the word in it, without giving away the definition. 
  3. Everyone else at the table writes in secret a single guess as to the meaning of the word, announced only when everyone has written their guess. Anyone who correctly guesses the meaning of your new word also gets the points for the word. For each other player who correctly guesses the meaning of your new word, you also get those points again.
  4. If your turn produces more than one word, you must write a definition for each word, and each player can guess each of the new words. Repeat the guess-scoring for each word.
  5. If you explicitly state the definition in your sentence, you immediately lose the points you earned from the word.
Here's an example. I play the word NIRF without any score modifiers like Double Letter. A quick dictionary check reveals that it isn't extant in English. That scores me 2+1+1+4 (if my points memory is working correctly). I write down that nirf is "(noun), the outer edge of a feathered nest" and say to the group, "I saw a lovely nirf while bird-watching the other day." Three other people are playing, and one of them guesses something similar to my definition. That other person gets an additional 8 points for the correct guess, and so do I for making a word that can be deduced from its use, giving me 16 points in total.

Try it out sometime. Let me know how it goes, or if you come up with any other variations to the rules.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Imposing Imprint Impressions

I'm often amused by the names that game companies adopt for themselves. Serious, amusing, esoteric, in-jokes... Since I'm about to publish Siege (hooray!), I figured I should come up with something for myself.

Years ago I wanted to create a company, but only because of the name. It would explain so much. I never did anything with that, other than use it as a throwaway line. So I'm dragging it up from the past just for this. At the end of November, Siege will be published by Them, They and Those Guys.

Feel free to attribute lots of things to us. Every time "they did a study" or "they've shown that penguins make you fat" or whatever else was done by someone you've forgotten, it might just have been us. We neither confirm nor deny it.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Steve Jackson Games adds social anxiety to your game

Steve Jackson Games appears to be taking a leaf from the pages of smaller press games like Burning Wheel. The idea that in the real world, combat is over quickly and seduction can take hours has rarely been reflected in games. Typically, combat occupies a whole evening and seduction is done in a single die roll.

I hope that's not a metaphor for the, uh "seduction" performance of some gamers.

Anyway, here's what SJGames has to say in its new announcement.
Let's look at an analogy. You know how the GURPS Basic Set has rules for combat, right? Well, gamers who love combat options have helped make GURPS Martial Arts, GURPS Tactical Shooting, and GURPS Gun Fu some of our most popular releases. Each one of those supplements augments the core combat systems with expanded info and new possibilities.

GURPS Social Engineering works the same way, adding options and rule systems for various interpersonal interactions. Think of it as "Martial Arts for the social arts."
This is great news for gamers, especially GURPS gamers. To me, the GURPS line looks a bit like the rim of Burning Wheel, spread out over several books rather than chapters.