RPG Creations and Musings.

Posts tagged ‘Wild Talents’

What have I been doing?

 

Gosh, it’s been ages since I posted a new blog entry. I hadn’t meant to let it go so long. So if I haven’t been writing here, what have I been doing? Well, here’s a quick run-down, at least as far as it relates to RPGs.

Seven Hills

I teamed up with my faithful comrade in arms Graham Spearing to organise a new RPG convention, Seven Hills. It was my first time organising such a thing. Seven Hills 2014 was a fairly small affair with about 40 people attending. The atmosphere was wonderful, and thoroughly relaxed. It was focused with a science fiction theme. I played in three games (a Savage Worlds space opera, a game in the new River of Heaven setting, and a game of Eclipse Phase) and ran two (a game of Wordplay in my own Starfall setting, and a game in the Transhuman Space setting, but powered by Fate Core), and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

It was two months ago now, so it’s probably a bit too late for post convention analysis, but I’m looking forward to us organising 2015, which has the theme of Steel.

Playing Games

Besides games at Seven Hills, I’m playing and running other things now. I’ve recently fallen a bit in love with 13th Age, which I’ve decided is <i>my</i> D&D. I’m using it to run a game of an old love, which I thought I’d never return to, namely the Planescape setting. I might post more about the campaign later on, but for now I’ll say that it’s wonderfully straightforward to run, with enough tools to keep it interesting.

I’ve just started playing in a game of Esoterrorists. It’s smooth and subtle so far (we’re only one session in), with notes of creepiness just starting to build. I do like the Esoterrorists premise, and do like the Gumshoe system. I’m keen to find out what happens next.

Finally I’m involved with a fun play by post game, namely De Profundis. By play by post, I mean it literally- we’re sending hand written letters to each-other. The game is set in 1893, and plays with notes of Lovecraftian horror. This is by it’s nature a slow mover, but now it’s getting really interesting.

Writing

I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing, just not on this blog. Let me give you a list.

  • My OpenQuest setting with Simon Bray, Crucible of the Dragons (formerly known as Here Be Dragons) came out earlier this year.
  • I’ve finished an expanded draft of my Starfall setting. It’s a 1950s alien invasion setting for Wordplay, intended to play more at the hardish SF rather than pulpy end of the scale.
  • I’ve finished significant revisions to Ninth Legion for Reign. This is starting to sing.
  • I’ve added a scenario to a revised version of Blood of the Gods, which is now out there in the wild.
  • I’ve literally just now finished the first draft of a scenario pack for Age of Arthur.

I’ve also written or am writing a couple of other things for publishers who haven’t announced them yet, so I won’t do it here. So there’s been lots keeping me busy.

 

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My Writing Business (Part 1)

If you’re reading this, you probably know I’ve written a few published RPG products- it’s not something I’m particularly shy of mentioning. If you didn’t know that, you do now. The plan in this post is to talk about my various writing projects, and how they came to be.

I think one key reason I broke into writing things professionally (by professionally, I mean being paid, rather than it being my job) is that I’ve always written a lot when running RPGs, filling folders and folders with material. If someone else could read my handwriting, they could run one of “my” games. It was in some ways a short step from that to typing things up, polishing and sending to a publisher. In other ways it was a giant leap, but the things I write for my own use are already part way to something I write for publication. Of course, one of these is a subset of the other- I’m not going to seek to publish anything I don’t like and use myself.

Another consequence of this start is that I’m generally happy writing setting and adventure material for games, and playing with the mechanics, for example adapting mechanics to a particular setting or coming up with subsystems or lists of funky powers. I’ve not got so much interest in coming up with mechanics from scratch. That’s not the sort of designer I am.

One piece of dabbling I did a few years before my first published work was a column for RPG.net. Some of what I wrote there seems quite painfully naive to me now, but some bits I still stand by. I think having the column to point out stood me in good stead when I made my first pitch to a publisher.

That publisher was Arc Dream. The pitch was for Blood of the Gods. The start of it was me deciding to run a Wild Talents game involving demigods and mythological monsters in ancient Greece. Kind of sending superheroes back to one of their original roots. There was nothing like that in print, so I wrote stuff over a couple of weekends, and it felt rather complete to me and possibly useful to others. I then mentioned on the Gaming Tavern (the actual discussion is now lost to the mists of time, otherwise I’d link to it) that I thought I’d written a game supplement. The response there was overwhelmingly positive, and I was then encouraged to do to something with it.

So I did, pitching the a game supplement to Arc Dream, the publishers of Wild Talents. I didn’t remotely expect them to say yes, but they did after asking to see what I’d written so far. There followed feedback, a couple more weekends of work, and I had a draft to e-mail. In the mean-time I’d run my game with my gaming buddies, and made a couple of changes of things that didn’t work.

The document was tweaked in response to the editor, James Knevitt, though I don’t recall any massive changes. It then went out to external playtesters for play and criticism. It got criticism in spades, chiefly for there not being enough information on the Greek gods or Greek culture, and for one particular demigod power being “broken”. The last bit of feedback came from more than one playtester, so the power was fixed, and I spend a couple of weekends writing more on the background in Greek mythology and history.

Then, some more editing and it was ready for the artist, Todd Shearer. The supplement’s 36 pages long, and it took quite a long time to get out (surprisingly long to me at the time, though I now fully understand why) and it took me about six weekends of work. I like the people at Arc Dream, and I like their games. Since Blood of the Gods, I’ve pitched another couple of book length things for them- Ninth Legion, which is written, but waiting those later stages, and another project I’m keeping under my hat until it’s further developed. I’m mysterious that way.

Besides Arc Dream, I’ve written and cowritten things for D101 games and self-published Age of Arthur jointly with Graham Spearing. Having a coauthor is a different dynamic, though one I quite like. But talking about coauthors, D101 and self-publishing can wait for another blog post.