Author Archive

June 27, 2016

Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn video


Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn blog post.

June 26, 2016

A Market in the Woods video

A video showing what the printed version of MM3: A Market in the Woods looks like.

June 10, 2016

Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn

A4_SWvsM_coverpicThree years ago, my buddy Jackson Tegu asked me to write a stretch goal for his Second Skins kickstarter. Based on two of those skins, the Wyrm and the Unicorn of course, I had an idea: combine Jackson’s ideas with Adventures on Dungeon Planet and make a campaign supplement for Dungeon World. From the very beginning it was an overambitious rpg monstrosity, and then I decided to add one-shot rules. And now it’s finished.

Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn is a science fantasy supplement for Dungeon World that combines the flavours of Adventures on Dungeon Planet and the characters from Jackson Tegu’s Monsterhearts expansion, the Second Skins, into 368 full colour digest-sized pages, with well over a hundred illustrations, including fantastic art by Chiara Di Francia, George Cotronis, Iolanda Zanfardino, Jakub Rebelka, James Fenner, Jon Cairns, Nate Marcel, and Taylor Winder.

Featuring six new Dungeon World character classes…

  • Space Wurm, the most important person in the galaxy, bar none. And yet, there is more that lies outside your power than within it. Will you conquer the universe, or see it fall before your foes?
  • Moonicorn, a rebel and a revolutionary. Those who despise your integrity are out there hunting for you. Can you make your dreams a reality, or will you have to watch it all come crashing down?
  • The Lover, the third point of a romantic triangle with Space Wurm and Moonicorn. Is this what true love is, or just a fleeting dream?
  • The Mogul, a master of industry. You’re not the boss of everything, but you’re the boss of your thing.
  • The Other, a visitor from far away. Can you find a place in this new world, or will you just lose your heart again?
  • The Spy, a double agent, a saboteur, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Does anyone knows where your true allegiance lies? Do you?

…and seven fronts, with four dangers each, for the GM to create the world and their antagonists from: aliens, cybernetics, the Imperial throne, interstellar travel, religion, the secret police, and the spice. Each game has three fronts that must be defeated in order to win. Who will reach their goal first and secure the future they are fighting for, Space Wurm or Moonicorn?

Space Wurm and Moonicorn are rivals, fighting over the future of galactic civilization. Will they let the universe crumble around them while they duke it out? Will they band together against the outside forces trying to ruin everything? Which one will betray the other first, in order to secure the future they believe in?

The other PCs move between them, choosing sides or not, trying to mediate and reach consensus, or feeding the flames so they can watch it all burn. But neither Space Wurm nor Moonicorn can succeed alone. In order to win, they need the support of the other PCs. What will they do to win their loyalty? What—and who—will they sacrifice in order to come out on top?

Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn moves Dungeon World away from typical adventuring parties and us-against-the-dungeon situations, in favour of more intrigue, more politics, and more interpersonal conflict between the PCs. You’ll need your laser swords to defeat the alien invaders, but you’ll need something more to win over their hearts and minds. Each of the new character classes are there to promote narratives of interpersonal drama, political intrigue, and social change. They give the players reasons to experience the shifting allegiances of competing rivals, to win each other over and then turn against each other, again and again.

It’s still Dungeon World, just with an expanded pallette, and more dimensions to explore.

DSC00161If you can’t commit to a long-term campaign, fear not! There are quick play rules for running one shot games of Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn, in the same style as Battle Between the Worlds. Quick play versions of the six Dungeon World character classes are joined by seven more classes: the Alien Queen, the Creature from the Ghoul Star, This Planet’s Messiah, the Serpent Princess, Space Ghost, the Star Vampire, and the Void Rat. Or use the characters from Battle Between the Worlds, these rules are fully compatible.

The print version is 6×9 US Trade size, for both hardcover and softcover.

The PDF is 5.5×8.5 digest size, and includes character sheets and a version of the book with black text on white pages for ease of printing.

Preview!

CLICK HERE to view a 53-page preview of the book, which includes the Table of Contents, the Space Wurm class, the introduction to the Interstellar Transport chapter and 2 of its dangers (Disease Control and Space Madness), as well as two dangers from other fronts chapters.

Purchase!

Buy it from DriveThruRPG at this link right here.
You can also buy a softcover version from Lulu, but because of their full-colour print costs, you will need a discount code to make it even close to price-competitive.

April 21, 2016

MM3: A Market in the Woods

market_cover_picThe Monthly Monsters project is back with a third monster manual for Dungeon World!

Deep inside the Spritewood, hidden from the sight of civilized eyes, there lies a secret market, where monsters meet to trade their ill-gotten gains. Under this canopy, the angry dead return to life and the living change , unwilling, into beasts. But if you can reach the market safely, a brand new world will open to you. What is it you seek? Alchemical wonders, history’s greatest mercenaries, or magic to challenge even gods themselves?

The only question left to ask is: what did you bring to trade?

A Market in the Woods includes 13 monster entries, describing a hidden marketplace, some of the inhuman beings that gather there to buy, sell, and trade, as well as a few schemes that may or may not be unrelated. Each entry is illustrated in full colour and may include different variations of the monster, random tables, adventures, dangers and their grim portents, custom moves, items, locations, plot hooks, secrets, and more.

Like MM1 and MM2, A Market in the Woods contains previously-released Monthly Monsters material that has been revised and expanded, and adds more illustrations and content.

A Market in the Woods is available in print and pdf from DriveThruRPG. The pdfs are halfletter digest size (5.5×8.5″) and 112 pages. One version has full-colour backgrounds behind the text while the other has black text on white pages. The print book is US trade size (6×9″) and 112 pages.

You can also buy the print book on its own from Lulu.

September 23, 2015

Wizard-Spawned Insanities

Wizard-Spawned Insanities is a monster manual for the Dungeon World role-playing game. The thirteen monster entries it contains are illustrated in full colour, along with a host of variations, random tables, adventures, dangers and their grim portents, custom moves, items, locations, plot hooks, secrets, and more.

This is NOT just a reprint of the Monthly Monsters material! Each monster has been revised, expanded, and given new illustrations. Every page contains full-colour background art.

WHERE TO GET IT: From DriveThruRPG, click this link

The pdf comes in two versions: one full-colour, the other printer-friendly (with B&W text pages and full-colour monster illustrations). Both are digest-sized, 110 pages, for US$15.
The print is US trade-sized, full colour, 110 pages, for US$30 and comes with the pdfs for free if you want them.

You can also buy the print version by itself (no pdf!) from Lulu at this link. The quality is almost identical, but some countries get much better shipping rates from Lulu.

June 1, 2015

Battle Between the Worlds

bbtw_lowres1Battle Between the Worlds is a set of rules for running one-shot Dungeon Planet adventures. You get new characters with truncated, personalized rules and a bunch of adventure situations to choose from. The GM still has to know how to run Dungeon World, but you can play using only this document.

The character sheets include illustrations by George Metzger, Juan Ochoa, Mike Jackson, and Nate Marcel.

Because I wrote these quick start rules primarily for the upcoming Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn (still not done!), I am releasing it as Pay What You Want.

Here is a link to the pdf on DriveThruRPG.

The print version is available from Lulu.

February 15, 2015

Druid Specialties for Class Warfare

I didn’t break down the Druid into specialties for Class Warfare because when I wrote that book I didn’t really see how to do it well. I had already figured out the first step, which was realizing that there are only two archetypes to the Druid: a shapechanger and a nature person. The Mechanic class from Inverse World gave me the idea to allow character classes made of 2 specialties, with an advanced move from one of them as an additional starting move. But even then, the Druid has a whole bunch of powers clustered around shapechanging. Spirit Tongue is underpowered compared to the Ranger’s Wild Empathy, while Born of the Soil and Shapeshifter seem inseparable. But if we consider most of these to be half-strength moves, we can bump each of them up a bit and build a specialty based on Shapechanging with the other aspects of it as advanced moves.

Like so:

Druid Specialty #1: Shapeshifter

Starting move is the Druid’s Shapeshifter, but use this rule instead of Born of the Soil:
Choose 3 monster moves and distribute them between 1-3 other forms that you can assume through shapechanging. You can only assume these 1-3 other forms, and you can only spend your hold on the move or moves you have assigned to that specific form.

Example: Dracula can turn into a bat and use the move Fly Away, or he can turn into a wolf and use the moves Track Prey by Scent and Bite the Shit Out of a Foe. Dracula’s other starting moves are probably blood drain and hypnotize.

Advanced Moves levels 2-5:

Born of the Soil, but with this caveat:
Choose a category of creature, and you can assume any form in that category, but the GM assigns that form’s moves. You could also select a category other than “land type,” the same as taking Thing-Talker or World-Talker. And maybe you can take this move more than once, as with The Druid Sleep. The actual categories can be anything, and should probably be based on the campaign setting.

Studied Essence
Add the form of any spirit you contemplate (not just animals). If you can observe a creature or spirit or a spirit teaches you its form, you can transform into that type of creature or spirit.

plus:
Formcrafter
Red of Tooth and Claw
Shed
Thing-Talker

Advanced Moves levels 6-10:
Blood and Thunder
Chimera
Doppelaganger’s Dance
The Druid Sleep
Embracing No Form
Formshifter
World-Talker

As you can see, this is one big-ass specialty, with tons of moves. But I think it balances against the other specialties in Class Warfare okay.

The specialty left over after shapechanging is removed from the Druid is not quite as coherent though:

Druid Specialty #2: Nature Hippy

Either one of these as your starting move
1. By Nature Sustained, the Druid starting move.

2. Wild Empathy (the Ranger move).
(This is basically halved for Druid starting moves, since you can only speak to animals you can change into).

Advanced Moves levels 2-5:
Balance
Barkskin
Communion of Whispers
Elemental Mastery
Eyes of the Tiger

Advanced Moves levels 6-10:
Weather Weaver

This one either needs more moves to fill it out, or we should just redistribute these moves to other specialties. Which is basically what I did. These moves are all in Class Warfare, though I think Barkskin only appears as a Dwarven racial move.

So anyway, this breakdown of the Druid also proposes an interesting way to make classes. Take more than three moves, but reduce the effectiveness of each of them and group them around a theme. It won’t feel like a disparate collection of different abilities if they are arranged around a theme, and by putting greater limits on them, the class won’t be overpowered compared to others or steal spotlight time away from them.

January 9, 2015

Class Warfare Errata

There’s always a few pesky typos somewhere. Class Warfare, being such a large book, and having gone through some major structural changes during construction, has a few more than my average release, unfortunately.

I try to correct these in the pdf when I find them, so if you have any typos in your pdf, download a new version from DriveThruRPG and hopefully it will have been corrected. If not, let me know, so I can fix it. Print versions are a lot slower to update because they are more of a hassle to work with (especially DriveThruRPG, because every change requires ordering a new proof). If any of the typos listed below are present in your print copy, I apologize, and I hope you will make a note of the change for yourself so it won’t trip you up in the future.

Here’s the mistakes that have been corrected so far:

Page 29, Questing Nature: “stat what you set out to do” should read “state what you set out to do.”

Page 33, Spirits of Knowledge: This move should not require Prayers to the Dead (because that move was tweaked and renamed for the Dust Eater class starting moves).

Page 39, Advanced Moves: In the first bullet point, it should not read “one of the other rogue specialties,” because this is the adventurer archetype. It should read “on of the other adventurer specialties.”

Page 106, Starting Moves: Under the first bullet point, it should read “reduce both your base damage by one die size (from d6 to d4)” because the disciple damage die is a d6 (not a d8).

Pages 130-131: The Elementalist specialty reads like it is a magician specialty, with “magician alignment” and “magician race option,” both of which should read “disciple” instead of “magician.”

Page 237, Control: the damage ignores armour (because it is psychic), but doesn’t explicitly say so.
Page 238, Jaws Around Your Spine: same thing, damage ignores armour.

Page 244, Bind: On a 10+, choose two options from the list.

Page 260, Stats: It should say objectivist specialty, not object reader specialty.

Page 316, The Hand That Calls: “life one-handed” should read “lift one-handed.”

Page 370, Psychic Blade: the ranges for the psychic blade should be hand and close, not hand and near. You get the near tag from the Flying Daggers of the Mind advanced move.

Page 426, Symphony of Battle: the last option should read “You throw off the effects of being stunned, confused, or enchanted.”

Page 461, Berserker should read the same as the Berserker move on page 447.

Thanks to everyone who brought these to my attention! I do appreciate it and I wish I had spotted them earlier.

January 3, 2015

Terrors of the Ancient World at Lulu

mm1I managed to get a Lulu version of the Terrors of the Ancient World book together. It looks great! There’s barely any difference between Lulu’s colour quality and DriveThruRPG’s premium colour. So if ordering print from DriveThruRPG means exorbitant postal rates because of where you live, hopefully this option will make it easier for you to get the book. Because it looks pretty good.

Not as good as the next ones will (or, if you are reading this far in the future, not as good as the later books look), but still pretty good.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO LULU

January 2, 2015

Adventures Don’t Sell for Shit

Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration.

Done well, adventure scenarios are an incredibly valuable tool for people playing rpgs. And yet they are never as popular as core rulebooks or player-oriented expansions. If I break down time spent writing adventures versus the profits they have made so far (over the course of a year and a half in a few cases), the best-case scenario is about minimum wage (which is CAN$10/hour where I live… I think). Obviously, if you have a large customer base, they way Pathfinder and D&D do, adventures can actually make enough money to pay for the people involved. But even in those cases, the rulebooks are still where the real money is.

So, what are adventures good for? Advertising.

1. They help sell other books, especially core rules.
If someone runs Island of Fire Mountain for their friends, and their friends love it, what happens? Do they all rush out and buy Island of Fire Mountain? No, they rush out and buy Dungeon World. Now, I’m all for helping out friends of mine but getting paid minimum wage to advertise someone else’s game (or do anything, really) is still a crap job, any way you cut it.

Take a look at two successful adventure-based business models: Goodman Games and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Both of them have gone from just adventures to also producing their own core rules, which I’m pretty sure sell better than adventures do. Not only are people more likely to buy adventures if they have a proper set of rules to go with it, but people also like to buy core rules. If you’re adventures don’t sell well enough to make a profit on their own, but they keep pointing people toward your other products that do, they’re worth the investment of time and effort (and by “worth it” I of course mean monetarily).

Just like rules expansions and supplements, adventures are a form of support for a game. Lots of people find well-supported games (and game lines) more attractive. Firstly, it (usually) means they will be able to do more things with one game simply by spending money and doing a little reading, instead of having to make everything up themselves (which can be especially time-consuming when it comes to designing rules). But also, if someone is already interested in a core game, good supplements and adventures work to grow and reinforce that interest. Bad supplements don’t tend to have the opposite effect because people can ignore them and concentrate on the ones they do like, or if they reinforce someone’s poor opinion of the game, that person is probably not going to be a customer (or repeat customer) anyway. A bad supplement flops on its own, a good supplement builds the brand.

All that said, making adventures pay off from a business standpoint requires you to use them as advertising for your other work. Using them to push your own core rulebook is a pretty well-established model.

2. They form a body of work.
Another thing that adventures can do is make bundled sales more attractive. A collection of many adventures, or rulebooks that come with a collection of adventures, adds value at the point of sale, as opposed to when people play the game (which is what point 1 was about). Sales are attractive; people like getting a deal. If you have one product out, all you can do is lower the price. If you have a whole bunch of products out, you can also sell a bunch of them for the regular price of just one of them, and not only does it feel like a deal money-wise, but time-wise as well, because they only have to make one purchase to get everything.

In point 1, I’m saying that people who see or play the adventure and think it’s cool get pointed to the core rules. With this point, I’m saying people who are interested in the core rules see that there are adventures for it, and it strengthens their resolve to buy it.

3. They disseminate a style of play.
Aside from the business aspects of points 1 and 2, there is also the community-building aspect to consider. Adventures help teach and promote a specific style of play, which can help lay the groundwork for other games of that style. If you run Apocalypse World and Dungeon World in a specific way, both games really sing. If you run them the same way you run Pathfinder, though? You’re going to have a terrible game. Even the people who hate Pathfinder won’t like it. But not everyone is able to learn how to play AW or DW really effectively from just the core rulebooks (because people learn in different ways). The more examples there are of that style of play out in the world, the easier it is for the people who like it to discuss it and find other people who want to play games in that style. It means subsequent games built in the AW style have an easier time gaining exposure. And this is just a recent example, which I use because right now I mostly write stuff for Dungeon World. Other examples of people promoting a specific style of play in opposition to more dominant styles include the OSR, the Fate community, and the various Gumshoe games.

4. Another reason why people write adventures.
Adventure-writing is also a natural by-product of play, since most rpgs require at least some form of prep. If you’re writing that stuff anyway, you’ve got a head start on a saleable product, although there’s still some work involved (most people I know don’t make professional-looking books just in order to play an adventure once with a few friends). Still, there’s something to be said for turning your hobby into something you can release in public with a little extra effort, and many more reasons than just making money why someone would do that.

****

Of course, I don’t follow the whole rpg industry, just parts of it. People with more experience selling games than me might have different perspectives. I published a bunch of adventures mainly because I wanted to, but overall, that time might have been better spent (business-wise) on something else. Adventures on Dungeon Planet has consistently outperformed all of those adventures since the very beginning, and Class Warfare is already more profitable after only a couple of months. So, even though I have notes for plenty more adventures, they’re not exactly racing to the top of the priorities list.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers