Monday, August 11, 2008

WoAdWriMo adventures finally available

The adventures that were written for WoAdWriMo (at least most of them) are finally available for download. They haven't been added to the main page of the site yet, but there is a thread on WoAdWriMo the forums where one of the organisers has posted links to the PDFs. There are apparently still another four adventures that he needs to convert to PDFs, plus several people said they would be getting their adventures in late, so the list is sure to grow.

I haven't really had a chance to read the other adventures yet, but from a quick glance at all the files ZOMG! (Zombies, Oh My God!) certainly looks very nice!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Power Groups within The Forgotten

With Obliviscence finally out, I’ve turned my mind to detailing more of the setting for The Forgotten. And as I’ve been thinking about it more, I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that I need to change it up a bit.

The setting as presented in Obliviscence is one where, in general, Forgotten life is ok. While it’s only hinted at in the NPC descriptions, my original idea was that the “good guys” (lead by Laura) have managed to deal with the old situation in the city that had three rival gangs controlling the city (and the Forgotten within it). Laura and her followers overthrew the old gangs several years ago, and are now attempting to create a peaceful society as best they can.

(Of course, one of her former supporters is attempting to carve out his own power niche, but you get that :-) )

However now I’m thinking that I need to step it back a bit. The idea I'm currently considering is that Laura and her people have managed to overthrow one of the gangs (presumably the most powerful), but the other two are still a significant threat within the city.

On the plus side, this is an obvious source of conflict (and hence adventures) within the game. It means that the setting isn’t safe and happy, and that everyone still needs to be somewhat careful when moving around. And if I assume that the other two gangs have lost a lot of their previous power (even though they still control some territory), it means that things like the Exchange can still exist within the setting.

The negative side is I’m not too sure I like adding such potentially large “militant” slant on the setting. Players who like killing lots of things would probably like it, but others who are more interested in exploring where they are (and trying to find a way home) probably wouldn’t find it appealing.

Much more thought is required I think!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

WoAdWriMo On Reflection

So, one month later and WoAdWriMo is finally over. Now that Obliviscence is out I can finally sit back and reflect on how it went.

First off, the main reason I decided to do this was to get me focused on my roleplay writing again. Polgarus Games has been on hiatus for almost 18 months now – and that has been mainly because I've been too unfocused. I'll play around with ideas for a while then jump to another, or allow myself to get easily distracted, and before I know it months have passed and nothing has been done! Doing WoAdWriMo was a good wake-up call... set a goal, set a deadline, and then sit down and just do it.

Secondly, going through the discipline of actually plotting out an adventure was a positive process. Don't tell my players this, but when I run an adventure I usually wing 90-95% of what I'm doing. I might have a few names, maybe a couple of scenes and an idea or two of what's going to kick things off, but most of the time I'm making it up as I go along. WoAdWriMo made me sit down and, for once, actually figure out everything ahead of time.

(I'm not saying I'm actually going to plot things out in the future – but at least I've had a chance to try it. :-) )

I did end up writing a lot more than I intended. Originally I thought I'd only end up writing a 15-20 page adventure... it ended up being 32 pages long (and this is the version without the maps and possibly a few images). It's a good wake-up call for some things I plan to write shortly – cut the waffle, and get down to business straight away.

So what do I think about my finished result?

On the plus side, I'm happy with the cover I created and the layout I used. Neither of them will win any awards, but I think they are good, neat and professional in appearance. I lost track of how many pages I printed out trying to find a font I was happy with for the main text – it was at least 20 pages.

On the downside, I think the adventure itself suffers from two problems. The first is that it is fairly linear. While I wrote in various suggestions on what to do if the PCs wanted to do something else (and encouraged the GM to run with the players instead of trying to force them to follow a set path), there is still an expected order that for the PCs to follow. They will go to the Exchange, they will be ambushed, they will meet Leopoldo, they will look for a new spare part, etc. Unfortunately I'm not too sure how the adventure could be changed to overcome that given its setup as a once-off taster for The Forgotten.

The second problem I think the adventure has is that there's way too much boxed text (at least early on - which could tie in strongly with the first problem). I think I got better the further I got into the adventure, as there is less text towards the end (although that was partly because I was running out of time). I'll have to try and limit the amount of boxed text I include in the future so it doesn't overwhelm the adventure I'm writing.

Overall I think WoAdWriMo has been a fantastic experience, and I look forward to participating again next year!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Obliviscence is complete!

Phew! It was a lot of work, but Obliviscence (at least v1) is finally done. You can download it from here (direct link to PDF).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

WoAdWriMo Progress Report - day 31

Ok, so by the Australian calandar it is now the end of July. It's a good thing for me that I finished the first edit pass and the layout today then! The only thing left to do is make three more pre-gen characters, and then it's all finished. I'm going to cheat a little a say I'm using the US midnight for the end of the month, so that means I've still got until midday tomorrow (my time) to get those done. :-)

After that I plan on letting the adventure sit for a week or two (perhaps asking my players if they can read through it to spot any editing mistakes, unclear sections, etc). Then I'm going to re-edit the adventure myself, and release a 1.1 version (hopefully around the middle of August). That version will also have a few maps that I haven't had time to draw up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WoAdWriMo - The Writing is Done! (sort of)

Phew! The main writing for the adventure is finally done (and came to 30 pages in Word). But I'm not quite done yet - I've now got to write up some NPCs, create a few pre-gens, then do my best to edit the adventure (there are a couple of patches that are a little rough). And after that it's layout time.

I had hoped to spend a bit of time on the layout, but given the looming deadline I think I'll just have to keep it basic for the moment. What I think I might do is get v1 of the adventure out by the end of the month, then spend a little bit more time on it (another editing pass, add a few images, etc) and release v1.1 after a week or two.

Unless I get lazy and just leave it as it is ;-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WoAdWriMo Progress Report - day 29

The days are counting down, and it looks like I'm going to be cutting it fine. The majority of the writing is done (just mainly missing one section early on that's very free-form and proving hard to write), but there's still a lot more I'd like to do (like pre-gen characters). Not to mention the whole editing bit :-) . But overall things are looking promising for finishing on time - just.

I've taken a short time out of writing to put together the cover for the adventure. I'm quite happy with it... but we'll see how I feel about it in a few weeks time!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obliviscence playtest, part 2

Sometimes things can go right - and luckily enough for me, my group was able to meet again to finish off the Obliviscence playtest. The second half of the adventure seemed to go much better - we were over the "learn about the setting" hump that seemed to be a part of the first session, and overall I felt much more comfortable running the game. My players seemed to enjoy it too. I think it helped that the second half was slightly less "railroaded" compared to the first half.

I was extremely happy that my players managed to trigger a "Collector" - the big nasties of the setting who chase after the Forgotten.

Now I've just got to get everything typed up (and layed out) in the next five days. Eeep!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Waiting Game

Normally I'm a patient person, but at the moment I'm on tenterhooks waiting for an email that will either say yes or no. Gah! :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

West End Games For Sale

So, Eric Gibson (the own of West End Games) has just been announced that WEG is for sale. To say that it's a messy situation at the moment is an understatement - this thread is the latest in a long line of threads that have descended into chaos.

I have mixed feelings about the sale. It's obvious that WEG, and D6 in particular, haven't done as well as Eric expected. But rather than trying to move forward with small steps and building up the business again, he had simply put WEG on hold. WEG hasn't released any new products over the past two years (which never does a company any good). And communication with Eric has always been difficult - a couple of years ago I tried to get a license to publish D6 material (which pays Eric money), and gave up after several months of stalling and lack of response.

But on the other hand the way Eric is leaving, with the huge pile-on in the forums and people attacking him personally, is not pleasant. And from previous posts it's obvious that WEG has been a huge strain on him personally. Hopefully he will be able to sell everything off, and reduce the stresses in his life once he is out of it.

I wonder how much he wants for Fires of Amatsumara?

Monday, July 21, 2008

WoAdWriMo Progress Report - day 21 (eek!)

Time is ticking down on WoAdWriMo. I have to say I'm feeling a little nervous about the deadline, but I'm still aiming to complete in time.

My regular group got together on Friday to playtest the adventure. Unfortunately we only got half way through the material in the time we had, but what we did get done seemed to work ok.

I've already made a few changes to the adventure based on how it played out and some feedback afterward. Some of the feedback was interesting - the start wasn't strongly liked because it was so sudden. If I was running a campaign, I guess I would have eased everyone into things a bit slower (the process of being forgotten taking several days), but for a once-off adventure I figured it was better to just drop everyone into things immediately.

The players also had some fantastic feedback on how one of the NPCs (a friendly one who's there to help them) was introduced. Hopefully her introduction will be stronger for their comments.

I did have one amusing moment while running the game - one of the NPCs suddenly changed gender from what I had originally planned!

The players generally seem like they want to finish the adventure, so I'm hopping we can get together again soon. It probably won't be until August (unless we replace one of our normal roleplay sessions for the second half, which is unlikely to happen). Hopefully what I've come up with will survive the lack of playtest ;-)

As for the actual writing of the adventure - I've completed the introduction section and almost all of Act I. Only four more Acts to go!

Oh yes, and one useless tidbit of info. One of my players recognised the second book that I've used as inspiration for The Forgotten (the one I had forgotten the title of). It's titled Displaced Person, by Lee Harding. I feel a re-read is in order.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Beware the killer ManFlu!

Alas work on Obliviscence has ground to a halt over the past week. My home computer has died, which meant the only time I can really work on it is during my breaks at work. Then I caught the dreaded ManFlu (also known as the common cold ;-) ) and was off work for a few days at the end of last week and start of this week. So while I've had time to mull things over in my mind, not a lot has actually happened on the writing side of things.

However all is not lost. My players have agreed to doing a playtest of the adventure this Friday. While I won't have the adventure written up properly, it is as least at note stage (which is more planned than I normally do!) So it will be a good chance to see if what I have come up with works, or if I've left some huge holes in the plan.

Given some recent failings I've had at running things I'm guessing the latter.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Interface Zero - looks interesting

Since I'm running a cyberpunk(ish) setting, I was interested to hear about the upcoming game Interface Zero, from Reality Deviant Publications. As it is nearing it's release date, they've just released a 28 page preview. Looks good!

I really like the work Reality Deviant Publications do - I've got a couple of their products, and I've never been disappointed.

WoAdWriMo Progress Report - day 9

So I finally have a title for the adventure - "Obliviscence" (which is 'the process of forgetting'). It seems the more common spelling is oblivescence, but I prefer the extra 'i' instead of 'e' in the appearance of the word (yeah, I'm weird).

Progress on the adventure itself is good. The outline has been reworked, and I'm much happier with it now. There's still one section that I'm unsure about, but as that is towards the end of the adventure I can leave that for the moment and work on the rest of it while my subconscious thinks about it.

Ironically the one scene that had stuck in my mind from the very beginning of this (the PCs starting the adventure in a bus terminal) has now changed :-) Instead of a bus terminal it's an airport. It just seemed to be more sensible in the end, since air transport is more popular than bus transport over a long distance.

Writing wise I've now done the overview of the adventure for the GM, and almost finished writing the first scene. I'm hoping I can convince my players to give the adventure a playtest sometime next week, but I won't find out about that until we play this Sunday.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Adventure Pre-gen - Henry Leech

An important thing for me with this adventure (and The Forgotten setting in general) is that it's about "normal" people who get caught up in strange things. So this is one of the pre-gen characters that will be included with the adventure. Built in EABA with the "normal" (80 A/80 S) point values.

Henry Leech, antiques dealer
"Are you crazy - do you know how old this is?"
Strength: 2d+0
Agility: 2d+1
Awareness: 2d+2
Will: 2d+1
Health: 2d+1
Fate: 2d

Brawling: +0d
Land vehicles: +0d
Language (French): +1d
Language (German): +1d
Area Knowledge (business): +1d
Area Knowledge (antiques): +2d
Psychology: +0d
Carousing: +0d
Sleight of Hand: +0d
Scrounging (antiques): +2d

Mature age (35)
Pain tolerance
Keen eyes
Obsessive over antiques (Personality 1 level)

Henry has had a love of antiques his entire life. His grandmother’s house was full of them and he spent most of his childhood at her place, listening to her stories about the items or reading up on them in books. He began trading in small items when he was a teenager (when other kids were doing paper runs or working other minor jobs to earn money). He started his own business properly when he was 19 and his grandmother passed away, leaving him the contents of her house. His business has been in the same small shop ever since. He has a reputation for being able to quickly track down specific antiques for his clients via his network of contacts and other dealers.

Possessions (carried): Leather briefcase (business papers, 3 pens, antiques catalogue, old auction catalogue, two chocolate bars), watch (plain), keys, clothes (old suit, shirt, tie, shoes).

Monday, July 07, 2008

Interesting Podcast on Writing

I came across an interesting site recently that I thought should be shared. Writing Excuses is a weekly podcast that, as you can probably tell from the name, is about writing :-). Each episode talks about a specific part of the writing process. The podcast does focuses on novel writing, but most of the material is very applicable to writing in the RPG niche (especially adventure writing).

One thing I really like about the podcast is that each episode is only 15 minutes long, so they tend to be very focused on the topic they are discussing. It also means that catching up on all the older episodes is really easy!

WoAdWriMo Progress Report - day 7

(Ok, this isn't really the 7th day that I've been working on this... but it is the 7th of the month, and since the aim is to finish in the month of July, my argument is that it's day 7 of the challenge :-) )

So far, things aren't going too badly. I've written up the first draft of the intro and details of the setting that a GM will need to know to run the adventure, and I've solidified in my mind many more details of the setting that had been bugging my subconscious (I think it's coming together well, but I could be biased). I've also created one sample pre-gen for the adventure - I plan on including four pre-gens with the adventure, just so a group could pick it up and play as a once-off if they wanted to.

I'm starting to write out an overview of the adventure for the GM, but the adventure itself is still in flux - it starts off strong (I think), but as I'm writing down the overview I realise just how weak it gets at around the half-way point. There's still some work to do there.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mongoose Traveller Developer's Pack

So Mongoose have released the SRD for their version of Traveller. To quote from the site:

The Traveller Developer's Pack has just been posted on our web site. This pack contains everything a fan or publisher needs to produce new material for the Traveller roleplaying game, while using the official Traveller logo. The Developer's Pack is intended for use by fans creating their own material for free download via a web site or other means, as well as publishers seeking to support Traveller with their own publications, be they paper or electronic-based.

The pack contains PSD logos, an Acceptance Form, the Logo Licence, and the Traveller SRD. The SRD has been released under the Open Content Licence.

If only I had multiple clones, so I could set one of them to work with this to develop new material for Polgarus Games :-)

Adventure Snippets Floating In My Mind

Ok, so my plan was to talk about how I was working on this adventure here on my blog... so I think I'd better start doing that properly!

At the moment I know that the adventure will start with the PCs arriving in a bus terminal late at night at the end of a long trip. I'm not sure why, but the scene of a bus terminal has just stuck in my mind, so dammit all I'm going to use it :-)

One of the scenes I want to use is the PCs arriving at some sort of gathering of other forgotten - like a market or similar. However I am a little hesitant about the market idea, as Neverwhere has an important scene where the main character arrives at a market. So I don't want it to seem like it's too derivative. I could just make it some sort of camp I guess. I've got to think about that some more.

And I don't know why, but for some reason "mad religious groups" have been figuring into my roleplay creations the last year or two. It started with the Cauliflowers in The Veggie Patch, continued with the Fires of Amatsumara game I'm running, and now I'm thinking about it for The Forgotten - people who think they have been "chosen" (or are being tested) in some way.

Oh yes, and the PCs will definitely have to run into Collectors. What's a Collector? Think of them as the Men In Black or Agents (ala Matrix) of the setting, except they capture and drag away forgotten who are too slow and those people are never seen again.

Friday, July 04, 2008

20 Word Description

So over on the WoAdWriMo forums there's a thread where people can give a 20 word or less description of their adventure. Here's what I eventually came up with:

Chased by strange men, ignored by everyone else, regular people must escape the strange new world they find themselves in.

And the winner is...

Ok, so it's not Saturday morning yet. But the more I think about the two adventure ideas, the more I realise that one has more advantages over the other. So while I really love the Ostium setting, I'm going with the adventure idea for The Forgotten.

Why didn't I pick the Ostium one? In many ways it made more sense, since I'm running a campaign which uses the setting. The problem is that to create an adventure usable to others, I would really need to include the setting book with the adventure :-) In particular, no matter what system I published the setting for (I'm currently running it with EABA, although I'm starting to think Savage Worlds would be a better fit) I'd also have to publish all the "changes" to the system to make it work for a computer world setting.

While The Forgotten would need to include some setting details, they could be easily summed up in half a page. And the system would be basically unchanged.

Speaking of system, I'll be using EABA for the adventure (since it's the system I'm most used to at the moment). And there's a free "Lite" version of EABA available (written by yours truely) so even if people don't know the system they can still use the adventure if they want to run it as-is.

Now I've just got to plan out the adventure :-) I've got a few ideas, but we'll see how they gel over the next few days. My problem is I don't normally plan out the adventures I run - I write down a few notes before the session, then wing it all from there. Forcing myself to plan it all out ahead of time will be... interesting.

(But probably a good learning experience).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Further Adventure Thoughts

After some more thought, I've narrowed my adventure setting options down to two.

The first option ties in with the dark future setting I'm currently running a campaign in. The setting is actually made up of two parts - the "real world" which is rather bleak, and a computer world called Ostium (think a much more advanced version of World of Warcraft) which citizens can play to escape the real world. If you've seen the .Hack series or read the manga, the computer world is similar to that. So option one would be an adventure for Ostium.

The second option is for a campaign idea that I've been kicking around called The Forgotten. It takes elements from Neil Gaiman's Neverworld, along with a book I read when I was in high school that I no longer remember the title of. Basically, the world just "forgets" the PCs, and they have to cope with the sudden loss of everything they have (while trying to survive in the "new" world they find themselves in). That's option two.

Both adventures would be introductory adventures. Both adventures would need some sort of blurb about the assumed setting. And both settings are ones I would like to publish via Polgarus Games one day (so the adventure would be reworked later on to be used as a free "promo" item).

Ah, decisions decisions :)

(And who knows - I might end up picking something totally unrelated!)

World Adventure Writing Month '08

In case you've never heard of it before (and it hasn't exactly taken the Internet by storm), WoAdWriMo or World Adventure Writing Month is a RPG version of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that over the month of July, you write an adventure for your favourite system/setting that will then be freely available to everyone for download. Last year there was a page minimum (32 pages I believe), but the great thing about this year is that they've removed it. A very good thing in my opinion :-)

I thought about entering last year, then never got around to it. But I think I will definitely enter it this year.

Now I've just got to decide what I'm going to write about. Do I write something for the various campaigns I'm currently running (Evernight, Fires of Amatsumara, and an unnamed dark future cyberpunk [without the cyber] setting), or something totally different? I'm not sure yet, but I think I will give myself until Saturday morning to decide.

Should be fun!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It was still here!

Goodness. I started this blog three years ago, then ended up abandoning it after a few weeks. I'd tried logging into it again a while ago, but obviously got the details wrong. At the time I figured Blogger had just deleted it since it wasn't being updated. "No great loss" I thought.

Imagine my surprise when I go to start another one, find the address I want is taken, then when I check the address find that it was my old blog, still sitting here! Best of all, I managed to find the old password information, so I could finally log in again.

I've deleted all the old posts (except the original "here I am" post), and I'm all ready to start again. Here's hoping I keep writing to it this time :-)