For the first time in this game design adventure, I am going to meet a self-imposed deadline. Weeeird.
The first draft of Ruralpunk will be sent out to the mailing list on July 30th. Once I've playtested the core mechanics (and a few experimental design decisions), I will release the playtest on the main ruralpunk.net website. That will probably be 6-8 weeks into testing depending on scheduling factors.
What's included? A draft of the rulebook + a player kit/reference kit for easier use during play. It includes:
The general plan is to playtest character creation and the core roll mechanic first. Once that feels good, I'll focus on the shelter phase (replaces downtime phase) and contact/town advancement system. I've sketched out some math on the resource and advancement systems, but all the math in the world can't replace the feel of a game in play. I want all of these system locked in before I add anymore complexity with additional playbooks and crafting.
And naturally, I'll keep working on art whenever I need a writing break so I can hopefully get the final book full of sweet rural punk aesthetic.
Just a quick update to say the work on Ruralpunk is picking up steam.
I've launched a site for the game at ruralpunk.net. For now it's a place to sign-up to receive playtesting materials. (If you're already on the newsletter for this site, you're already on the list for updates).
I made a separate site partly because I want to have a web version of the rules. With the linking, navigation menus, and responsibe layout of the web to different devices, it seems like an easy way to navigate the rulebook. And it's an easy way to update/push out new versions for playtesting. If it works well, I'll probably create a finalized version once the playtesting is done. Any purchase of the game would also get you access to the final webpage. Or it might turn out to be a failed experiment; we'll see.
Either way, I'm excited to get playtesting Ruralpunk in the next few weeks.
I've finished the world chapter, basic rules chapter, character creation, and have the master layout for character sheets. At this point I need to work on the town sheets (which replace crew/team sheets in this game). Once I have 1 or 2 done, I'll be putting everything together for the first playtest document. I hope to have it out by the end of July.
I've started active development on a new game.
The new game is an update to the Karma in the Dark ruleset based in a ruralpunk world:
I want to share progress on the game throughout its development. This will include early previews of the life path based character creation, quickstart rules, maps, art of the world, etc. To that end, I've updated my newsletter system to make it easier to share information—and easier to opt out of updates if you decide you don't want any more information.
You can sign-up below.
I've moved my main update to next Monday for when I have more time to summarize what's been happening and what's next.
For now, just wanted to say I'm fine tuning my release schedule for all of the content I'm making. The biggest change is descreasing from 2 design blogs a week to 1, released Fridays. I may throw in additional posts as they come up, but I need to cut down on the weekly output. Between podcasts, Patreon, game design, community involvement, freelance jobs, and all of my irl activities, I need to lighten the scheduled commitments for the next few months.
Very brief update.
Most of my focus this month is finalizing my main revisions of the Karma in the Dark ruleset for my new game, Crossing Worlds. My Friday design post will cover the process I've used for this revision.
A big focus has been on streamlining. I've been focusing on identifying the essential feeling I want to create with Crossing Worlds and removing, simplifying, or editing every mechanic to feed into that idea. One part of this process includes remaking playbooks.
While I like the idea of souls with flexible discipline choices, in practice I haven't seen many players mix and match between different archetypes (e.g. a player picks a Cyborg discipline and a Virtual Artist discipline). Almost everyone picks disciplines within their archetype, e.g. two Cyborg disciplines. At the same time, trying to create character sheets for every combination of souls led to a lot of paperwork.
I've decided to model the playbook layout more off some Powered by the Apocalypse games like Dungeon World: playbooks stretch over 2 pages. The first page has the essential information used by pretty much every charater; the second page lists all of the possible special abilities you can pick for your playbook (along with xp tracking).
For now, you pick a playbook and primarily pick special abilities that match it. You can pick up to 4 veteran abilities that pull from any playbook within your soul type (e.g. cyber, magic, or motral). While this limits many of the abilities to your archetype, it also opens up 3 disciplines by default, i.e. 12 different special abilities to choose.
For simplicity's sake, I've also layed out playbooks to match the vertical layout of the rulebook, so the sheets can be included in the main text.
This is a draft of the Tech Jockey playbook with the new layout.
The past few months have been a whirlwind of opportunities and work.
I've released a few small game projects along with one big release, Tides of Gold. Based on the response to Tides, and my own enjoyment in the game, I've been focused on playtesting, editing, and supporting some actual play content. This April I'm running two sessions on twitch.tv/actualplay. There is another one, possibly two AP's in the works I can't discuss yet. I've also started looking at possible publication options once the early access/testing period ends.
I've been working on a major design revision for Crossing Worlds. I am excited about the changes, but the amount of work needed is slow-going.
I picked up some freelance work. I had fun contributing to Glittercats Fine Amusement's game "More Kittens", which is an expansion on their GMless game Laser Kittens. I also took on several contracts for cultural consultation. Due to NDA's I can't say much now...but there are some interesting projects in development.
I started a Patreon to cover the basic operational costs for my design work. This was sped up by the coming changes to Patreon as well as my own need to pay for design software or devote time to more paid work. As a part of the Patreon I release a small, experimental game design each month. It's an interesting and challenging project.
I joined the project Voices at play, which is a mix of actual play podcast and TTRPG book club. It features marginalized people playing games by marginalized creators. We play a new system every two months, with weekly podcasts released, along with weekly features on marginalized creators. After we finish each system we have a roundtable discussion for the GMs and the players to discuss their experience with the game.
I've been doing some behind-the-scenes community development in several places. I can't discuss most of these projects yet, but I'm excited for the potential. There are cool things developing with community discussion, mentorship, and industry standards.
There is a theme to a lot of this... lots of work, lots behind the scenes, lots that I can't discuss openly (yet).
While I've enjoyed all of this work, I've felt scattered the last few months. I feel like my time and attention is being pulled in many directions. (In addition to the usual work, friends, family, etc.) So I've decided to try and refocus a bit.
I'm going to go back to using this website as my main hub for content. Instead of trying to manage Discord, Twitter, Itch.io, DriveThruRPG, Patreon, etc., this will be my point of contact.*
I've also decided to create a more predictable schedule for content for myself, as posted on the main page. Knowing me I won't keep to this 100%, but I want to get close.
The basic idea is:
This is schedule I can sustain and mostly reflects what I do naturally, just consolidating it down to one place.
*Patreon will continue to receive content. I will release my experimental games and related design posts there a month earlier than here.
On the Gauntlet RPG forums someone started a thread about what people want to see in the future of Powered by the Apocalypse games, and someone mentioned games that encourage safety, diversity, and empathy. The conversation got me thinking about how game mechanics encourage (or discourage) empathy. I had a project idea that never went beyond notes, that I took and expanded into a quick game jam project.
Over the weekend, that project became Knights of Remedy.
The game can be summed up in two ideas:
The game was a fun design experiment and also a chance to embrace a rainbow filled, cheerful design aesthetic.
In a lot of ways this game acted as a way for me to experiment and build new design skills: GMless, single-session, PbtA inspired moves instead of skills, and a focus on meaningful but simple game mechanics.
It is free over on my itch.io page.
Edited: Added DriveThruRPG links
Tides of Gold came out as a stand alone game. It also represents my first serious game-for-money release with itch.io and DriveThruRPG.
This was a project that was never supposed to become a full game...but people kept asking me for updates and asking questions, so I kept working on it. I'm happy with the product. I'm sure there will be tweaks in the future, but overall it's done and in a good place and it feels finished.
Which is nice closure compared to Crossing Worlds which still isn't finished.
Itch.io: free preview version + paid full version
DriveThruRPG: preview version and a paid full version
I'm experimenting with a reduced-content free version along side a paid version (~60 pages vs. ~200 pages). The game is slightly cheaper in itch.io because they offer a much higher cut for creators. I'll still get less money from DriveThruRPG with the small price increase...but I know many people prefer DTRPG for convenience/centralizing their gaming pdfs.
Here is the official summary:
Tides of Gold is a tabletop role-playing game about a crew of adventuring sailors seeking riches amidst the clash of warring trade factions, corrupt marine patrols, and monsters in the deep. There are raids, kidnappings, back-alley deals, marine cults, and above all a cutthroat game of trade to be won—if you're skilled enough to ride the storm.
You and your crew must survive being hunted, shoved out, and battered by the waves of rival pirates, wealthy merchant families, warring nations, and backstabbing patrons. Will you seize wealth and establish yourself as force in the region? How will you navigate the pull of your anchor calling you home while you dream of a greater destiny?
In this stand-alone game, you'll find:
SETTING Two generations ago, the region was invaded by mysterious Sea Raiders, not-quite human creatures who introduced Renaissance technology to an Iron Age world.
It has been fifty years since humans fought back these creatures, and in that time they have unlocked numerous secrets of their advanced technology, catapulting a mystical world into a mechanical future.
This period of peace and invention and spurred on a new level of trade and exploration. The Golden Road of ages past has been rebuilt. But the war time alliances are weakening. And now fortunes are ready to be made...or stolen.
Number of players: 3-6
Age of players: 13+
Length: 2-6 hours
Type of Game: Roleplaying Game
Page Count: 239
“War does not determine who is right — only who is left.”
I usually don't make any New Year's resolutions. This year I made two: make more digital art and explore making some quick-but-quality RPGs.
Crossing Worlds is still a huge focus of my time and energy. However, after years of working on it, it is easy to become burned out. I've tried some other game projects on the side, but inevitably, they've always become complicated, long, requiring 100+ page rulebooks. I can't really refine them without taking too much time or energy away from my main design project.
A few months ago I started reading short games by other people. Games that could be explained in 1-4 pages. I had no idea how to make a meaningful short game, but the challenge appealed to me.
In January I made I'm With You, a narrative game about relationships and community after a disaster.
For February, I made an entry for the Emotional Mecha game jam: Breach. Designed for 2-players, it is a quickplay game that explores the way war forces us to make impossible choices.
Each time I make one of these focused games, it gives me new energy to keep working on Crossing Worlds. Maybe while you wait for the next big update to that game, you'll consider checking them out.
Record Collection is a game jam where we challenge you to make a game that is based on, inspired by, or an interpretation of a music album! Simply pick an album, listen to it, and then make a game that evokes it.
Our Jam Guide Lines are as folllows:
I have been playing around with mechanics for a narrative card game since about August but never got anything to click. I came across this game jam while listening to Avril Lavigne's song I'm With You and something clicked.
This game was a blast to design and I'm unusually happy with how it turned out. It includes straightforward rules, doesn't require a GM or prep time, and includes 154 cards I designed, wrote, and illustrated myself.
Right now you can buy the print-and-play version; within the week I will be updating with a digital version to be used in Roll20 or Tabletop Simulator.
We were just a small town. Ordinary. Boring even.
Then the Incident changed everything . . .
I’m With You is a roleplaying game for 2-5 players lasting for 1.5 to 3 hours. Play focuses on relationships in a small town and how one pivotal event changed everything.
You do not need a GM or prep time; the game's unique card system will generate story prompts as you go.
Together you create a story of interconnected lives and drama similar to ensemble-cast movies like Crash or Love Actually. At the end of the game, your characters must face each other and decide if they deal with the Incident's fall out alone, of if I’m With You.
Either choice will change your character's life forever.
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