Dungeon World: Our Heroes!

Our Heroes - Ram, Rahi, Merit, and Kanta. Art by Claudia Cangini.
Our Heroes. Front: Ram the Holy Killer; behind him, from left to right: Rahi the Relic Bearer, Merit the Trickster, and Kanta the Mage. Art by Claudia Cangini, 2016.

We’ve been playing Dungeon World for over a year now, in Edmund’s own setting inspired by Southern Asia, “The Land of Ten Thousand Gods.” We’re nearing the epic conclusion of a big story arc so as a holiday present to the whole group, I commissioned a portrait of our four characters from the amazing Claudia Cangini. Tonight I unveiled it for the group and people sounded very happy — I know I am!

For those who, like me, enjoy seeing how a piece of art comes together, I will post the various steps of Claudia’s work. All images are in the slideshow at the bottom.

Continue reading “Dungeon World: Our Heroes!”

Mouse Guard Must-Have

photo-sep-08-4-48-55-pmI’m very late in discovering this, but the hardback compilation Mouse Guard: The Black Axe is a must-have for all readers of the Mouse Guard comics (David Petersen, published by Archaia) and especially for players of the role-playing game based on the comic, the Mouse Guard RPG (Luke Crane & David Petersen).

It’s full of information about what the Guard Mice do, the art is as inspiring as ever, and the book offers a nice appendix full of maps, illustrations of locations, genealogies of famous mouse clans, etc. (You can see examples of location art here, but the ones in the book are different and contain much more information.)

War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus is a 2016 ENnie Nominee!

ENnies 2016 Nominee
The 2016 ENnie Awards nominees were just announced and War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus has made the list in four categories:

  • Best Art, Interior
  • Best Family Game
  • Best Rules
  • Product of the Year

It’s up against high-quality, popular releases but it’s so nice to be on the list. (Now I know that at least four people read it!)  ^_^

I am so very fortunate that on my first professional writing gig in the role-playing world, Evil Hat Productions let me create a book the way I wanted to, with the support of their fantastic knowledge and staff resources. It doesn’t get any better!

War-of-Ashes-Pageheader

As the Dungeon World Turns

COver of Dungeon WorldDungeon World (Sage Kobold Productions 2011, 2012) is probably the best-known descendant of Apocalypse World, the family of games “Powered by the Apocalypse” (PbtA for short.) It owes its popularity not only to its use of the most popular trappings in the history of role-playing (the Gygaxian dungeon crawl and character roles) but also to the clarity of the writing and some simple but effective choices of mechanics.

One of its significant modifications to the AW model is the way characters gain experience and advance. In AW (including the second edition previews released so far) and several of the PbtA games based on it, one player and the GM each highlight a stat on your character sheet at the beginning of the session; your character gains experience by using (i.e., rolling dice based on) the highlighted stats. I really hate this; typically, the stats highlighted are not the ones that interest me as player. In addition, a few specific character moves may instruct you to mark experience under limited circumstances.

In Dungeon World, there are no highlighted stats; instead, you mark experience every time you roll a failure (6 or less on two six-sided dice.) In addition, the End of Session move rewards the behaviours typical to the Gygaxian inspiration: playing your character’s alignment, learning something new and important about the world, overcoming a notable monster or enemy, and looting a memorable treasure. Between these, you can expect characters to earn two to six experience points per session.

But there is one more thing that can earn you experience, and it’s very unexpected in light of the old-school model DW emulates: relationships between characters. Here is how it works: Continue reading “As the Dungeon World Turns”

The Case of the Dead Client: A Damon Sainte, P.I. Adventure

Cityscape Snapshot by Atomhawk

From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class.  From 10 feet away she smelled like someone made up to be seen from 30 feet away.

— With apologies to Raymond Chandler

It was a very bad morning for Damon.  Sleeping on a half-broken couch in his office was old hat by now, as was the morning sound of a stone gargoyle landing outside the window at dawn, or a feline deity demanding breakfast.  Nothing that a bad cup of coffee or three wouldn’t fix, especially with some bourbon thrown in.  Memories of the previous night were fuzzy — something involving a beautiful woman, a fist fight, and alcohol.  Just like every night.  Through sheer force of will, the detective managed to keep one eyelid propped open as he rolled out of bed and onto his feet, fumbling for his coffee cup.

There was an angel sitting behind his battered desk.

She looked like a goddess, radiant and attractive beyond the understanding of mortal men – brunette hair worn off the shoulder, alabaster skin without a trace of imperfection, and blue eyes as wide and alluring as the sky on a summer day.  Full, red lips that were made by some deity for the very purpose of being kissed.  Looking up from the newspaper she was reading, she cocked her head to one side and gave Damon a smile full of hope and trust.  “Like a puppy hoping for a home,” he thought sourly.  His heart still skipped once.

Then he caught a whiff of the smell.  A smell he normally associated with back alleys, strays hit by a railrunner, and the city morgue on a warm day.

“Awake?” said the angel with a voice like honey and milk.  She tapped the newspaper.  “I was just reading the obituaries.  So strange to see my name there.”  She smiled again, all innocence and trust.  “Thank you for agreeing to find out who killed me.  It really means a lot.”

From the corner near the food bowl Ubaid piped up “And you complain about the things I drag home!”


Thus read the introduction we had received via a email: on Sunday we played a new episode of the adventures of Damon Sainte, P.I., an ensemble cast setting my husband wrote for the game Bloodshadows from West End Games.  The most recent episodes were posted here and here.  Our player characters this time were Damon Sainte himself (Steve P.), Cat the former pit fighter and current casino owner (Maureen), Chummie the newspaper boy with a not-so-imaginary friend (Adi), and Marycete the nurse, a worm collective animating a dead body (me).  Short descriptions of all character backgrounds are found here.


Damon
Damon Sainte

Damon questioned the dead dame, Dottie. She was sure she could not have died in her sleep has the obituary claimed. And she wanted Damon to investigate.

Her last memory was of having gone to sleep in her home in the wealthiest part of town, the Diamond Districts. She lived with her parents — and their twenty-five or thirty servants and employees of the art gallery. Dottie did not work or study but she painted and entertained many suitors. No pets, no enemies. But Alfram Gallery was known as the most prestigious in Galitia. Continue reading “The Case of the Dead Client: A Damon Sainte, P.I. Adventure”

Spotify Playlist: American Gods

american gods

A few years ago, Bridget McGovern at the TOR Books blog put together an exhaustive soundtrack to go along Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods: “The Complete American Gods Mix Tape”.  I added all the tunes I could find, which is the vast majority, to a Spotify playlist.  I was thinking of this playlist because Christmas features at the centre portion of the book, so it’s seasonal.  Unfortunately, Spotify does not allow custom images for playlists (it’s only been a top user request for 3.5 years!) but I’m nothing if not stubborn.  Hence, sharing through my own blog so I could have a representative image when I post the link!  Enjoy.

Spotify playlist: American Gods Mix Tape.  If you want more about the novel, here are some thoughts and links from my previous posts.

[Edit: Now includes the long-missing Beatles songs, just released on Spotify.]

american-gods-mixtape1

War of Ashes RPG: Icy Sounds

iPhoneDock-01Edmund gave me a speaker dock station for my phone a few days ago, so I now have my Agaptus playlist in the background while I prepare my two War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus adventures for next weekend’s Big Bad Con: Jean Sibelius (Finlandia, The Tempest), Edvard Grieg (Peer Gynt Suite), Camille Saint-Saëns (Le Carnaval des animaux), Paul Dukas (L’Apprenti sorcier), Sergei Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf), Danny Elfman (Music for a Darkened Theatre), etc.

The two adventures are Ice, Ice, Baby and Curse of Agaptus, and will both be released as downloadable content on Evil Hat Productions’ website in the not-too-distant future.

Edit: Here is the Agaptus playlist on Spotify if you want to peruse it.

War of Ashes RPG: Diorama…

When Edmund starts painting miniatures for War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus, this results:

Besieged

From this:

Besieged-spread

Credits:  Photo © Edmund Metheny 2015, used with permission; end pages art © ZombieSmith and Evil Hat Productions 2015, used with permission but my photo doesn’t do it justice.

War of Ashes RPG: The Troops

WoA_minis-KuldZombieSmith have supplied us with a bunch of War of Ashes miniatures in addition to the ones we owned, so little metal creatures are now covering the game table. Edmund has been painting up a storm so I can field bad guys in my two War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus games at Big Bad Con.  They’re not finished yet, but they’re coming along nicely!  Shown here: the voracious Kuld, pre-shading and highlights phases.

Credits:  Photos © Edmund Metheny 2015, used with permission.

WoA_minis

War of Ashes RPG: It’s Here!

The ThingYes, I’m finally holding a real book in my hands.  That’s my very own stack of books, at EndGame, freshly arrived from Evil Hat Productions’ printer: War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus.  Dang, it’s real!  I’m real!

Luscious matte-finish hardcover, full-colour printing on thick glossy paper, glorious end sheets.  It’s so wonderful to be on a project where the whole team excels. I’m awed by:

  • Karen Twelves‘ editing and way, way more: she identified the correct “voices” for various portions of the book, tied this into a coherent text, reorganized it several times as we answered the playtest feedback, hunted for typos and cross-references, selected appropriate images from the pre-existing pictures from ZombieSmith, and wrote extensive art notes for new pieces.  In all this, we worked on multiple sections in parallel and the only time we had a version control problem was my fault.
  • Dale Horstman‘s beautiful layout that brought out the art while conveying mood, his choice of images where we had not provided instructions, his skill at visually distinguishing the different types of text (instruction, narration, examples, fiction, etc.), his extensive work to showcase art pieces in the best way possible, his patience with our edits and changes, and his attention to detail.  He also did “invisible” work, such as making sure all those hyperlinks worked properly in the PDF version, and preparing the layout for a smooth transition to ePub.
  • Edmund Metheny‘s micro-fiction, coming to my rescue when I was too exhausted, mentally and physically, to write it.  His little bits of dialogue are funny and zippy, they are short enough that they don’t interrupt the “gamer” reading, they convey a whole lot of flavour and background info in small bites, and they make the characters come alive.
  • Mike Olson‘s help with the conflict rules, and particularly his ideas on using zones more intensively.  I think the playtesters generally loved this rule sub-set, and it’s completely portable to other Fate games.
  • Sean Nittner and Stephen Bajza‘s excellent project management, unexpected in the world of gaming.
  • Sean also acted as creative director, and he was always there with a good idea when I was stomped. To his particular credit: the cycle of approaches in the Froth rules, and reminding me of the usefulness of invoking aspects for effect.  There were tons of other things, but these two bits right there had important ripples in the book.
  • Plus we had an all-star team with all the specialized tasks: Jessica Banks (proofreading), Krista White (indexing), Carrie Harris (marketing and tie-in fiction), Rob Donohue, Leonard Balsera, and Brian Endgard (internal reviewers), Twyla Campbell (playtest survey consultant), Josh Qualtieri, Anthony Brown and the artists at ZombieSmith (art and concept), and of course the business savvy and long-term vision of Chris Hanrahan and Fred Hicks.  (Also, Fred decided to switch from a softcover to hardcover book, which I think the art and graphic design totally deserved.  Thanks, Fred!)

And it smells good!

Smells good! Pretty pictures It has pages! It's in a real store!

P.S.: Of course, as soon as I opened the book I started thinking “Oh, I could have done better here!” etc.  But when I play it, this is a miniatures-based role-playing game I enjoy. I’m also pretty pleased with the game-master tools I provided in there.  I hope you’ll like the book.