Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

Yesterday I showed off the cover for Lost Days of Memories & Madness, my game of intrigue and insanity at the court of the elves. Today I thought I’d post up another piece of art and talk a little about the background for the game, as this piece forms the opener for Chapter 1: The Elves of the Eternal Court.

I’ve posted it up in full colour because I wanted to share George’s awesomeness, but the book is in black and white. You can see for yourself now – I’ve put the PDF up on RPGNow for sale.

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Perhaps I should have held off on this morning’s blog post about presenting background, as this afternoon Jeremy Keller has expanded on the notion of Transmissions by bringing the goods to the table and showing us an actual Transmission. A thing laden with promise, I’m sure you’ll agree, pulsing with ideas just ready to be used in the pursuit of story.

A while back I thought a little about how best to present background as part of a roleplaying game and I wanted to revisit that topic with some fresh ideas.

Something Jeremy Keller posted a few weeks back as part of his design thoughts struck a chord with me and is potentially the missing piece of the puzzle that I’ve been looking for – how best to present background and get the players to buy into that.

With regard to his latest game, Technoir, Jeremy talks about the role of Transmissions, which are self-contained capsules of information regarding different aspects of the setting (chiefly different cities), principally as a means to generate plot ideas for the GM. This got me thinking – what if these capsules not only delivered plot ideas for the GM, but also in-game background for the players to easily digest?

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One thing I’ve been wrestling with recently is the notion of background material in rpgs, and how we can best convey it to a) the reader and b) the player. This has come about because, unlike Dead of Night, a couple of my current projects have background of their own, and I’m pondering how I can get my own ideas about a setting across in a useful and relevant way.

Historically in rpgs, the way this has been done is very much top down. The background was presented via the medium of rulebook and supplement to the GM (and often the GM alone, because, you known, campaign secrets/spoilers abound). The GM would then convey the setting material to the players by some nebulous and unspecified means – perhaps by showing and telling in the game, perhaps by handouts or maybe even by homework of reading vast reams of text.

I used to do this, but inevitably grew frustrated when the players didn’t always pay attention or get onboard with the background – but why should they? They had no buy in, no investment, no connection in their own to the world . I remember Weapons of the Gods strove someway to alleviate this, with aspects of the background that the players could ‘buy’ as their own, almost giving ownership of different areas of knowledge to different players. But in many respects this still wound up with the same problems as the GM imparting knowledge – fundamentally the players had to do the legwork by reading up on all the background to see what interested them in the first place.

Of course, the pendulum has swung the other way somewhat. Many games nowadays don’t have set background at all (or only very roughly sketched background) and instead the players create the background around the table as part of play. Burning Empires coined the phrase ‘world burning’ and the name has kinda stuck. This gets all of the players onboard, investing them in the setting by harnessing and using their own ideas and creations.

But sometimes you don’t want to make up the setting, sometimes you want to play in an established setting that you know and love (but the players might not). What to do then? Is there a compromise? How can you create buy in and investment without necessarily creating from whole cloth?

Well, Dead of Night has been out a little over a month now, so this seemed to be a good point to pause and take stock of how the launch went. It seemed to go down well at Games Expo, leaving me with only a couple of books left at the end of the con. I think my last minute panic about not having enough stock proved to be unwarranted, so I’m glad I didn’t fast-track any extra books like I briefly considered.

Print sales are steady enough that I can comfortably handle posting them myself, but books should be on sale at IPR in the States in the next few weeks, and I’ll be glad that I won’t have to fulfil many more to the US. Unlike the first edition, I’ve made a digital download available too, and that’s been a huge success. I’m not sure if it’s folk recognising the name when it pops up on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, or whether it’s just Paul’s great cover drawing them in.

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Hot on the heels of Monday’s release of the PDF version of Dead of Night, I’m pleased to announce that the print copies are now in. For the time being, they’re only available to buy direct from me – you can see a new “Shop” link at the top of the page, and from there a “Buy Now” button. The price is £15 and the link includes £2.50 postage.

Buying a print copy also gets you  a copy of the PDF – if you supply your email address when you buy it I’ll send you a link for the PDF shortly afterwards. You can, of course, still buy the PDF separately.

The book will, sooner or later, be available from IPR if those of you stateside want to wait for it to be available there.

One of the key design considerations with Dead of Night II was the physical size of the finished book. What size and format should it be printed in? Is this something designers normally consider? I don’t know, but with  Dead of Night it’s a real biggie (no pun intended). For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dead of Night, the the first edition book was truly pocket-sized – about 4 inches x 5 inches, if I recall correctly.

This was a great gimmick – hell, I’m the first to admit to the fact that when I started writing it, that was all there was to the game – and worked wonders at grabbing people’s attention when it was sitting on the stall at a convention. The end result is achieved, the book is in the hands of the punter and half the battle is won. Great, surely?

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