Archive for the ‘Caught My Attention’ Category
If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a look at the Spark RPG. You may have heard about it on Twitter or whatever, but weren’t drawn in because the title isn’t THE SPARK OF DEATH or Emotional Sparks Galore or Sparkender or anything like that.
The title is simple. It’s a bit like a zen onion, with layers but chill about it. I’ll use the game’s on text:
In Lord of the Rings, Samwise pledged his loyal service to his friend Frodo. He was driven to uphold his word and lighten the heavy burden that was crushing his friend, and he braved incredible hardship to help Frodo. He explored the values of loyalty, bravery and sacrifice, which taught us a bit about ourselves.
He doesn’t talk about playing Aragorn, all ass-kicking. He doesn’t talk about playing the emo, tragic Frodo. Spark is about Samwise.
You have to understand that this is important to me, personally, because when I watch The Lord of the Rings, Samwise is the hero. He’s the one who makes the heroic choices without the benefit of being a great warrior or adept wizard.
I’ll let Jason take it from here.
If you back, you’ll get immediate access to the game’s pre-layout draft: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Jagash/the-spark-roleplaying-game/posts/426079. So give it a test-drive. You might like it.
My friend Tony Dowler has made something breathtaking:
The Seattle Doomsday Map is a huge painting of downtown Seattle devastated. Buildings have collapsed. Cars lie abandoned on I-5. Neighborhoods have been consumed by fire, water, and returning nature. Civilization has dwindled to a few scattered enclaves, but in those refuges, life carries on with full vigor. This vision haunts me constantly, but it also gets my imagination going, which is why I was compelled to create this image.
Check the poster out in full — it’s fucking amazing. And he’s making a survival guide to go with the poster. Seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to set a game in a massive, apocalypse-ravaged city, you must get in on this.
If you haven’t checked out the Fate Core Kickstarter campaign, it’s got a few hours to go. And I have three reasons that I think you should back this if you like RPGs:
(1) From a design standpoint, the major and most of the minor changes in Fate came from weeks of conversations and debates between Leonard Balsera & I about language in Fate, what we found ourselves explaining around or avoiding bringing up in con games, how language choices affect emotional resonance in a moment of story, etc. It’s one of my best works — if not by best work — even if I wasn’t there to finish it at the end. (Seriously, “obstacles” alone took I think three Skype calls to suss out.)
(2) $10 gets you a mountain of content. Go check it out.*
(3) Pledging means you believe in the following people: Leonard Balsera, Mike Olson, Jeremy Keller, Brian “Lord Danger” Engard, Fred Hicks, Rob Donoghue, Clark Valentine, Amanda Valentine, Brennan Taylor, J.R. Blackwell, Sarah J. Newton, Jason Morningstar, Shoshana Kessock, Lisa Steele, John Rogers, Filamena Young, Rob Weiland, Daniel Solis, Jess Nevins, Chad Underkoffler, Kenneth Hite, Justin D. Jacobson, and many others I’m sure whose names I don’t have readily on-hand.
To be entirely clear, I get absolutely nothing for pimping Core. This isn’t a cash grab for me. I just fucking well believe in the game I reforged with Lenny, and think the people above are pretty cool, so maybe Fate’s for you.
* Hell, I pledged at the $10 level.
Today, I want to talk with you about Josh Roby’s latest Kickstarter, the Vicious Crucible of Villa Argentate.
He’s doing something with Kickstarter that’s a bit different than most: he treats it like the Ransom Model, looking to collect a certain amount in order to make the game free for all. He’s done that with the previous Vicious Crucibles, which you can check out right now: The Vicious Crucible of Verdigris Valley and The Vicious Crucible of the Eburnean Tower.
The design premise is refreshing: the core rules take up four pages, with a layout designed to be printed front-to-back. Rules modules get two pages, and each new Vicious Crucible comes with a new module. Verdigris Valley came with Combat, Eburnean Tower came with Sorcery, and as far as Villa Argentate…well, that depends on the backers. Because among other things you’ll get in the Kickstarter, you’ll get to vote on which rules you’d like to see Josh develop:
The character of the Silver City will determine which rulesheet gets used with it. If the vote goes to the scheming and dealing, the Influence rulesheet will be included. If the backers want the underworld, the Theivery rulesheet will ship. And if you fine folk want to see artisans, well then, you’ll be served up a hot cup of Crafting rulesheet.
Each rules module works with the other Vicious Crucibles. I love these games, because they take a Lady Blackbird approach to situation design and with a die system reminiscent (but lighter than) Cortex Plus. Each has a set number of six possible protagonist characters, a few NPCs with agendas, some opening scenes, and useful descriptions of places.
If you’ve played the Smallville RPG, this will feel familiar…because Josh designed Smallville.
So if this sounds remotely up your alley, check out the free stuff. And if you like supporting people making small, interesting games and releasing them for free, back the campaign. If nothing else, check out the page and see what he’s got planned — since it’s reached funding, it’s gonna happen!
It’s been a while since I’ve done a Folks I Admire post. Today, I want to talk about Logan Bonner (who is sitting behind me right now, unaware I am composing this). He’s my officemate at Paizo,one of the half-dozen full-time editors here. I had the pleasure of working with him when he edited the Hit a Dude World Players’ Guide. And for the two years I’ve known him, he’s been someone I can call a good friend.
I respect the hell out of Logan’s creative capacity in game design and in visual design. He doesn’t do as much art as he does other things, but don’t let that fool you — guy’s a good artist. He’s prototyped some neat, well-themed board and roleplaying games. And if you haven’t checked out his Refuge in Audacity (which you should, and it’s free, though he deserves money), please do — it combines Synnibar absurdness, fully aware of itself, with some interesting theme mechanics that push that ridiculous play.
I don’t think he believes me when I call it genius. But it totally is. Try it for yourself.
Beyond that, though, he’s a genuinely kind, decent human being. He’s a reminder that perhaps we should not be dicks to one another, but with a sense of sarcastic and well-timed humor that makes him a awesome to be around.
I’m not the only one who respects the hell out of Logan. Some other friends in the creative community:
Logan’s one of those folks that I’m very fortunate to have enjoyed and admired his RPG work even before meeting him, and then later, getting to collaborate with him on Critical Hits. Refuge in Audacity is inspired madness and continues to draw interest, and I hold out hope that it will be turned into a deluxe, foil-covered volume some day. He has multiple game designs of his I have playtested that I hope become real releases next year. Also, he’s one of the few people who gets my Futureheads jokes.
Logan Bonner combines a thoughtful nature with a quick wit in a way I find astonishing and confounding. He’s always considerate, suggesting he’s taking the time to consider your feelings, but he’s so swift with support, enthusiasm, or a joke that it sort of frightens me to realize how fast his mind must work.
Logan writes. Logan edits. Logan designs. Logan draws, inks, and colors. Dammit, Logan does it all. One day that guy’ll be standing on the balcony of the house his skills built, and we’ll stand in the foyer raising our glasses and meaning it and he’ll still be all modest, with that straight-backed posture, making a well-timed callback to the night’s first gag and we’ll all laugh and remember that Logan hasn’t changed a bit—he’s still the mensch who does it all.
Logan has this intuitive sense of how tropes combine to form larger works that makes him a great improviser during RPG play. He develops compelling characters and challenges that blend essential touchstones with vivid details that help game worlds come alive in a flash—and he has the bravery to commit to the bit, whether it’s funny or sad. It’s just great fun to watch him work.
Was it Logan who introduced me to The Builders and the Butchers? I’m pretty sure it was. They’re in my headphones right now. Thanks for that, Logan.
Here’s to Logan Bonner. May he create more wondrous things. May he continue to remind us all to be better people.