Showing posts with label rpg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rpg. Show all posts

Friday, September 27, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Night Shift

Ok a little self-promotion here, but I am pretty excited about this one.

Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/294629699/night-shift-veterans-of-the-supernatural-wars-rpg?ref=theotherside

First the Kickstarter sales blurb from my co-author Jason Vey:

So folks, to coincide with Halloween, I will be Kickstarting the newest core RPG from Elf Lair Games this October! I'm still working out the exact details (getting quotes for printing costs in particular) so I know what to set my goal, but it's planned as a hardcover B&W release. Please spread the word and keep your eyes out! Here's some more about the game:

NIGHT SHIFT: VETERANS OF THE SUPERNATURAL WARS Debuting the new Elf Lair Games house system, O.G.R.E.S., Night Shift is an urban fantasy, horror, and dark modern supernatural game that uses a brand new system of old-school mechanics inspired by and derived from the original, basic, expert, and advanced versions of the World's Most Famous Role Playing Game. It allows you to mimic all the tropes of just about any film, TV series, or novels you like.

All of the following are possible with Night Shift:
  • Cheerleaders that are chosen to slay vampires
  • Sisters imbued with the power of chosen witches
  • Worlds where Fae of all manner battle in the politics of light and dark
  • The great-grandniece of a famous gunslinger inherits the legacy of the demon hunter.
  • A world where two brothers armed with knowledge and weapons hunt the supernatural in their father's name
  • And more!
Excited? I sure am!!

This game came about through long collaboration with Jason and I.  We met while working at Eden Studios together.  Jason was doing a lot of work on All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the zombie horror game.  I worked on WitchCraft and Armageddon.  We both worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.  Over the years we collaborated on other games.  He was a playtester and contributor to Ghosts of Albion.  I contributed to his AFMBE and later Amazing Adventures books.

We both hit the OSR scene at the same time in 2007 and he wrote Spellcraft & Swordplay.  I wrote my first Witch book and Eldritch Witchery for his Elf Lair Games label.

Night Shift combines a lot of different ideas we have had over the years. 

First, we are developing an advanced version of the in-house O.R.C.S. game system (O.G.R.E.S.) that captures the old-school rules we both love with some (minor) modern advances.  Though you can still play Night Shift with any OSR product with no issues.

Secondly, we are also bringing several different "Night Worlds" to your game play.  I don't want to give out any spoilers, but these "worlds" represent several decades worth of play.  I will spoil one or two.  One of my Night Worlds is "Ordinary World" which I have talked about here before and the other is "Generation HEX."   If you dig through my archives here you will also see mention of "Daughters of Death" that might come later.

Finally, I wanted to create something that in the eloquent words of my friend Robert Black called "filling a Buffy-shaped hole in my life".  I have worked on a LOT of really great games and properties over the last 25 years.  Some of that material I can use, most I can't.  But that is fine, I have had years to learn what I like and what I want in a Modern Supernatural Horror game. 

Over the years we have also shared our love for the Modern Supernatural genre in TV shows and books.  Obviously, we were both Buffy and X-Files fans. Jason turned me on to Lost Girl and the books of Kelley Armstrong.  I recommended the books of  Kim Harrison and the TV shows HƎX and Charmed.  Between the two of us, we have worked on several score horror games and played many more. We have a lot of opinions.

Night Shift is the result of all of that.

So expect some more posting on this all month.

Up next?  My sons are going to play two bothers (naturally!) who drive across the country stopping supernatural monsters with nothing but their wits and a trunk full of guns and rock salt.  If they choose the names "Sam" and "Dean"...well that is just a coincidence. ;)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 27

Day 27: How Do I Market My Work?

Hopefully very well!

But seriously I tend to focus on the online communities I am part of; Facebook, Twitter, formerly Google+ (pour out a bit for our departed brother).

I have paid for ads on Facebook and I have done DriveThruRPG deal of the day.

Back in the day I even did a little bit of advertising on Usenet!

It seems that my best recommendations are word of mouth.  People telling others about my books.

Again, this one where I am curious to see what others do.  Hope to pick up some tricks.

Since this is a marketing post, please have a look at my games!
https://www.rpgnow.com/browse.php?author=Timothy%20S.%20Brannan

Friday, April 26, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 26

Day 26: Favorite Online Community

So many really. I love all my online communities.

I guess my greatest love is still blogs.  Best signal to noise ratio, best content on the games I enjoy and a chance to interact with other creators.

Facebook is still a great place to find a wide variety of opinions and games but that also means there is a large collection of "noise".

This is one I will really enjoy seeing what others are going to post.  I am always in the market for more places to learn about games.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 24

Day 24:  Favorite RPG thing to Create?

Hmm.

That's a toss-up.  I love making monsters.  Monsters are what got me interested in RPGs to start with.

I also love to make classes.  My witch is my foremost example, but I have many more.

But in the end, I would have to say spells.

According to my spreadsheet, I have written over 800 unique spells for various games.

Spells and magic are my favorites.

Monday, April 22, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 22

Day 22: How are you working to improve the ttrpg community?

I hope I lead by example.

I would like to be the example that not all "old guys" are stuck in the 80s (although my wife would question my tastes in music) and we are not all a bunch of grumpy assholes.

I also try to call out bad behavior when I see it and correct my own when it happens.

My reach is not very far, but I am hoping that things like this will help.

I like to be an RPG evangelist.  Show everyone what is good about RPGs and the joy of sitting around the table with family and friends and rolling dice.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 20

Day 20: A Game You Want to Make You Think No One Will Play?

Oh, that's easy.

I want to make an officially licensed Charmed RPG.

I am not ashamed of this, but all things considered I vastly prefer Charmed to Buffy. I don't even consider myself a Buffy fan, to be honest, more of a Willow & Tara fan. But I am an unapologetic Charmed fan.

There is the whole witch thing to be sure.  And the Charmed Ones are rather easy on the eyes.  But I think my friend and former TV writer Robert Black said it best,  Charmed never forgot who their audience was and never forgot they were a TV show.

While I know the demographics of the show and your average gamer are not exactly the same, I think with the amount of "modern supernatural" fiction being published today that a Charmed game would be fantastic.  Buffy sold well, Dresden Files is doing nicely.  Granted those are properties with significant geek/gamer buy-in and at the time of their games the properties are still active.

I would like to point out that with all the stuff I have written about witches and magic in the things I have published that this game would be a natural for me. ;)


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 17

Day 17: How Does Your Identity Influence Your Work?

This is related to yesterday's post.  But let's break it down into how I see myself.

I am an aging Gen Xer
Not a Baby Boomer (thank you!) and not a Millenial.  I grew up on a diet of MTV, horror movies on basic cable and later on VHS.  I learned to program a computer to get the software I needed (no aps or stores yet).  So I have learned to make do with what I had available and then create the rest.
My books are often the games or supplements I wanted to play in the 80s but no one had written.
So I also have a preference for some older games. I am not saying they are better (and if you spend anytime here you will know I play and love a lot of new games) I just find them fun. I like them.

I am a Midwesterner
I grew up in the mid-West.  My high school was in the middle of two corn fields. We lived through the Satanic Panic of the 80s so "of course" everyone knew of someone that knew someone that saw a Satanic altar.   I got the see the power behind a social movement early on and in your face full color.
This also affects my next bit of identity.

I am an Atheist and Skeptic
I grew up as an Atheist in a town whose claim to fame is the number of churches they have.  Look I love writing about ghosts, witches, magic, and gods. I just don't believe in any of it in real life.  None. In a very significant way, my early explorations into RPGs (D&D in particular) and mythology was a way of dealing with being the only kid in school* who didn't believe in fairy tales.  * I have since learned through the wonder of social media that I was not the only one they were just as afraid as I was to say anything.

I am a Father
Becoming a husband and father is one of my greatest achievements in life.   Yes, I have had plenty of other really great achievements; my education, my degrees, my books.  But being a dad.  Nothing ever comes close to that.  I write games I want my kids to also enjoy.  I want worlds that they would want to play in.

I am sure there is more.  I used to have a professor that said culture is like a tackle box that someone shook up.  It is very difficult to pull out one thing or separate one from the other.  I think that is true here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 16

Day 16: How does your environment inform your work?

I have talked about this one before.

I grew up in the midwest in the 70s and 80s.  My "adventures" were often road trips. My backgrounds included a love of horror movies, a mother who knew some of the most blood-chilling stories I have ever heard, and a fascination for mythology and the occult.

It was a heady brew that only the alchemy of the 70s and 80s could produce. 

In my books, I want to recapture the feel of finding some lost occult tome of the 70s.  Something a little subversive, a little dangerous and a little outside of the reach of the normal people out there.

Hammer Horror + Occult 70s + NWoBHM from the 80s gives you the environment I grew up in and what informs all my RPG creations.

Monday, April 15, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 15

Day 15: Favorite Tropes to Subvert?

Halfway there!

Favorite Tropes to Subvert?  ALL OF THEM!

But seriously, a few come to mind.

You will never, ever see a "Women in Refrigerators" situation in one of my games.  No woman will ever be killed to forward a male character's arc. Never. 

You will never, ever see rape as a means of helping to build up a character as via a Rape-and-Revenge arc. As in when you take a character down to their lowest levels so they can be built back up into something more powerful.  I guess the trope could be called the "I Spit on Your Grave" trope.

Most of all you will never, ever see a "Bury Your Gays" or a "Dead/Evil Lesbian cliché" in anything I publish. Ever.

"But", you may ask "what if the story calls for it?"
Sorry, but no. Time to write a new fucking story then.

"But aren't you giving 'special treatment' to a certain group?"
No. And also fuck you, go write your own fucking games and don't buy mine if that is what you think.

These are my lines in the sand.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 14

Day 14: Are Your Game Mechanics and Characters Intersectional?

My mechanics are math which is about as non-intersectional as you can be. Math is math.

Again, not to sounds like a broken record, I go back to my key philosophic design foundation; Is it fun?  Everything else flows from that.

Now to be fair.  I DID write The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition AS I thought a radical feminist witch group would look like in a D&D/Fantasy world. 

Here I did play with concepts of power and gender as they related to the archetype of the witch.  I based it on the "Reclaiming Tradition" in modern Wicca who have decided that they need to reclaim the name "witch" and make it their own positive label.

The Aiséiligh are in a very real sense my Social Justice Witch class.  Lawful, Good, and sick your patriarchal shit.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 13

Day 13: Participate in Streamed Games?

No. I really don't.

I am of an age where I don't get a lot of time for my games, so I like to run them when I can.  Since my regular group consists of my family there is not a lot of interest in me streaming the game.

Plus streaming games have a certain flow to them that my home games do not.  Plus there is a ton of inside humor. What's the point in streaming content that really only the people at the table will get.

I have not against streaming games and think they are kind of cool really.  The ones I have watched have been a lot of fun.  But you likely will not see me doing it anytime soon.

Would I play in one that someone else was running? Yeah, I might do that.

Friday, April 12, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 12

Day 12: How to Make Work more Inclusive?

I hope that my work is fairly inclusive as is. 

With my two primary philosophies "Is it fun?" and "Can I play what I want?" I hope that I have not left any room for anything exclusionary.

Since I also feel that once the book leaves my hands and it is in yours that you can make as inclusive as you like/want/need.

I just have to make sure there is nothing in the rules that say you can't.

I'll be interested in seeing what others have to say about this.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 11

Day 11: Shoutout to an Underloved Creator

I know of a lot of creators that are doing great work.  But underloved?

Justin Issac is doing some cool stuff under his labels Halls of the Nephilim and The Lone Bards.

Gavin Norman has been putting out some great stuff for his Necrotic Gnome label.

Any others I mention I think are pretty well known.  Liz Chaipraditkul at Angry Hamster Publishing I think is well known now. At least I hope she is!

I am sure there are more.

How about this.  Here is your excuse, permission, invitation to post YOUR favorites below.  Post yourself if you wish!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 10

Day 10: How are my games dismantling colonialism?

Uh...They are not?

My games really don't have that kind of effect.

My design principles start with "Is it fun?" and end with "Is it fun to write?"

I mean sure there are some subversive messages explicitly about Colonialism (and in particular about the British Empire in India) in Ghosts of Albion.  But the message is not one of action it is more directed to people who already understand what a bad thing it can be.

So yeah.  I guess the scope of my writing is just not that large.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 9

Day 9: How Do Your Games Distribute Power Among the Players?

Well, I would have to say I try to focus on mechanical balance as much as I can within the scope of the rules.

Some games, say for example many old-school games, balance is not really a consideration.  But you also don't play those games for balance, you play them for the game-play-experience you get (not XP in this sense).

So I create witch classes that are, for the most part, pretty weak at love levels.  This in on purpose since it fits in with the design constraints of the games I am working with.  The payoff is once you get to higher levels you are pretty damn powerful.  Like scary powerful really.

In other games, I also look a lot into the balance of the character types.  For example in Ghosts of Albion Tamara and William, the "stars" of the show are also some of the weaker characters power wise.  They are not the great powerful warrior Queen like Boadicea or the magic using vampire or the poet whose words can shape reality.  This balanced with their ability to affect the plots and course of the game via their greater Drama points.

After that, it becomes the realm of the individual game masters to do their job.

Monday, April 8, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 8

Day 8: Favorite Collaborators

Oh wow. With this, I am afraid I'll miss someone.

At the top of my list, I will say is Jason Vey.  We worked on Buffy together and a bunch of other projects.

We agree on all the "big stuff" and respect each other's backgrounds and areas of expertise.  But we are also not afraid to go at it when defending something we both want.

A collaborator should bring out the best in you and you for them. 

I also would not hesitate for a chance to work with Christopher Golden and Amber Benson again like we did on Ghosts of Albion.

Lots of people I would love to work with too.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 7

Day 7: How to Increase Accessibility

Good question, wish I knew how!

For the games I write I try to make things as flexible as I can within the guidelines of the rules so people can do anything they want.

I don't want to be the one to say "No. You can do that."  I would rather write my material so I can say "Yes, you can do that, let's figure out how."

Want to play a Winter Witch that is just like Elsa?  Yeah, you can do that.  Want to play a White Witch, but make him psychic instead?  Yeah, ok do that thing!

Whatever else beyond that is up to whoever is running the game.

At the same time, I try to market my games and books to appeal to all sorts of crowds. 

Looking forward to seeing what everyone posts for this!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 6

Day 6: Long or Short ttrpg texts?

Not 100% sure I know what this one is asking.

So I am going to repeat what my Ph.D. advisor told me when I was writing my dissertation.

"Make it as long as you need it to be, but no longer."

Another bit of advice he gave was to quote an anecdote from Napoleon.

"Dear Josephine, I am writing you a long letter because I don't have the time to write you a short one."

Brevity is key. Keep things concise and simple for everyone to read. Avoid a page of text where a paragraph will suffice.

Good advice for academic writing and good advice for game writing as well.

Friday, April 5, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 5

Day 5: Character or Worldbuilding?

Hmm...

As a gamemaster I enjoy both, as a player I enjoy characters.

I have often said I am a bit of an oddity in my OSR crowd. I have said in the past that I explore characters and not dungeons.

To me, I love character development.  Don't get me wrong, I love worldbuilding, but only insofar as it provides a stage for the characters to grow in. 

Do I care about weather patterns or the price of grain on the local markets? No. I really don't.  If it needs to rain, it is raining.  If there is no grain then there is no grain.  The only reason I need is how does it affect the characters in their situation right now.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 4

Day 4: Favorite Type of Game Scenario?

I think, and this has a lot to do with the media and books I was raised on, is the Haunted House.

Haunted house scenarios, especially ones with long and tragic backstories are my favorites of any game.

This all goes back to this reoccurring nightmare I used to have that I called "The Very Haunted House".  The house was an old Victorian manor complete with spooky attic and sub-basements.

It was haunted by the ghost of an evil old woman that used to torture kids.

This house was based on a few things in real life.  The biggest was "Maplecrest Apartments" in my old home town.  It used to be an old tuberculosis hospital turned into low-income housing. I delivered newspapers back then and that was on my route.  Scary place.  The house took more form when I went with my dad to see the Dana Thomas house in Springfield, IL.   These nightmares plagued me forever to be honest, and they were not the "whew that was a weird dream" nightmares these were the "oh my god I am going to die in this dream" sort where you wake up afraid and still full of terror.  I added details to dream with every movie I saw or book I read including a bathtub full of black water with a rotting corpse that I am sure I got from "Silence of the Lambs".

Oddly enough they stopped about 15 years ago. I had the dream and in it, my wife was standing in the dark attic only now it was bright. She held a mop and had her hair tied up, she looked at me and said "What? I cleaned it."  Cheesy as it sounds I think she helped get over whatever fears it represented.

I have since used this house in other adventures I have written.  I first used "Cotton Crest" in my Buffy RPG adventure "Under a Cajun Moon".  Years later "Oak Crest" made it's debut in "The Haunting of Oakcrest Manor" in the Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall Special Edition.
I am considering also doing it again, only this time Willow Crest.  Cotton Crest was haunted by demons, Oak Crest by ghosts and other undead.  Willow Crest?  Extra-dimensional aliens.

So yeah, give me a good haunted house and I can have a blast with it.
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