Fate Of Cthulhu: Necronomicon

Fate Of Cthulhu is a terminator inspired re-imagining of the Cthulhu mythos as a tabletop roleplaying game. Players return from a doomed future to try and prevent the end of the world at the hands of cosmic elder gods at the cost of their own corruption. The system is FATE based and the text explicitly distances itself from the racist beliefs of H.P. Lovecraft with an aim to make playing within the mythos accessible to a diverse audience. For Fate Of Cthulhu I wrote one of the possible doomed futures wherein the Necronomicon when scanned into the internet takes over all thinking machines from computers to human brains, sending them all mad. The Necronomicon future will be available as a digital download later in 2020.
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Hack The Planet

Hack The Planet is a cyberpunk/climatepunk roleplaying game based on Blades In The Dark. In it players play a crew of criminals trying to get ahead in Shelter One, the last known remaining human city in a world ravaged and transformed by climate change. Crews attempt to harness natural disasters and phenomena called “Acts Of God” as a way of getting ahead in a cyberpunk dystopia. For Hack The Planet I wrote two regions, the Crowlakes and the Paratonnerre Mountains, two factions, the Heckati Shades and Svaltun Hold, and a crew type playbook, the Rangers. You can get Hack The Planet from DriveThruRPG: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/268457/Hack-the-Planet-Cyberpunk-Forged-in-the-Dark
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Ruins is roguelike dungeon crawling roleplaying game for one player and friends. It is a hybrid computer game and tabletop roleplaying game inspired by old school dungeons and dragons, parser based adventure games, and post-forge tabletop roleplaying games. Explore procedurally generated ruins filled with monsters, traps, and ancient treasure. Rest at campfires and commune with other players in the ruins. Delve deep into layers of complex history and right long forgotten wrongs. I created Ruins as a solo project. Get Ruins on Itch.io
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image copyright Failbetter Games Ltd

Fallen London is a free to play browser based Victorian Gothic text adventure. Their premium subscription service offers a new Exceptional Story to play through each month.

For June 2019 I wrote The Garden Embassy: an Exceptional Story that sees you invited to the grand opening of the Garden Embassy, a mysterious establishment representing a collection of her majesty’s overseas colonies.

(Spoilers for Fallen London content ahead)

The Garden Embassy was an incredible privilege to write for Fallen London as it centers on an ambassadorial entourage from the antipodean colonies of the British Empire and the fate of those colonies in Fallen London’s alternate timeline. I greatly enjoyed filling the module with Australian references for players to puzzle out and creating characters that could provide real positive representation of Australia’s first nations peoples, as well as plenty of queer representation too.


W.R.I.T.E. GM Moves

As a GM I often run a game on the fly by the seat of my pants with very little reference material in front of me, and I really appreciate games that let me do this. One of the things I struggle with, for a lot of PBTA games is long lists of GM moves. I often forget to have a list in front of me and I don’t want to go digging for them every five minutes. I know GMs who have a more measured pace for whom patiently consulting a list of GM moves works for but my style is too hectic for that. This tool is intended to be a helpful fallback for when you don’t have the game’s actual list of moves in front of you. It’s not intended as an outright replacement for the GM moves of the actual game you’re playing. The tool is this simple acronym: WRITE Warn them Rob them Injure them Twist the outcome Escalate   Warn Them Introduce new things to worry about or make distant worries more present. Reveal unwelcome truths. Let them know what’s about to happen, or what’s happening in the nearby or far away. This move is one of the most important because it’s the one you use to create narrative flow and make sure players don’t feel cheated. When they later get completely obliterated by dracula’s moon laser, it’s ok because you warned them. “In the distance you hear the rumbling sound of many feet and warcries. A warband headed this way, to be sure.” “A bullet ricochets off the wall inches from your head, wherever it came from, the second one probably won’t miss.” “A smirk fills the councilman’s eyes. He’s not afraid of you anymore.” Rob Them Take away or destroy the things their characters care about. Equipment gets broken, dropped, used up, or left behind. Hurt, kill, or kidnap their companions. This move is valuable for making risks and consequences that feel real and grounded without always falling back on the threat of potential injury and death. It’s what powers resource management based games and it reminds the players that even superheroes need to eat. “The kobold deftly disarms you and your sword clatters into the chasm below.” “The torch gutters out and someone’s belly grumbles in the cold dark, though it could have been anyone’s.” “The others squeeze through the gap without trouble but there’s no way your plate mail is making it through.”   Injure Them Bruise them, bleed them, break their bones. Take their lives or whatever made their lives worth living. This is the simplest move, the classic. Use it to make a point. This is a thing that can kill you. When hitpoints drop players sit up and take notice. “The ogre reaches through your hail of arrows, grabs your arm, and rips it off.” “The sweltering sun beats down on you as you travel without respite. Your skin burns and your blood boils in your head.” “You’re only barely still standing with the poison seeping through your veins and so you don’t notice the kobold trip wire at the top of the stairs. The tumble is all it takes to rob you of that last inch of life.” Twist The Outcome Give them what they want but with a cost or twist. Show their actions affecting much more or much less than they had intended. Turn their move back on them. Have success look different to what was assumed. This move is super useful for adjusting the pacing of things as well as making players think about possible fictional outcomes of their actions. “The fireball explodes on the mummy and fills the entire chamber with flames. The sacred scrolls nearby start to smoulder as embers pock their pages.” “You break down the door before hearing the groaning of the stones above as they tumble down with the wall collapsing into a giant pile of rubble.” “The necromancer recognises your holy symbol and is struck silent. As his minions flee he drops to his knees, begging for his life.” Escalate Make the situation worse. Separate the party. Put someone in a tricky spot. Bring in backup. Turn the floor into lava. This move is incredibly versatile, especially in tandem with Twist The Outcome, and drives a lot of narrative. Use it to ramp things up, move things forward, and never look back. “As you stop to catch your breath over the corpse of the man you used to trust, the entire house shakes and then lurches as it’s lifted into the sky by nazi helicopters.” “One of the bandits reaches out and grabs your companion, pulling them close with a knife at their neck. They start to retreat with their hostage.” “Bullets slice through the air around your jeep as the mercenaries fire from their bikes. One gets lucky and gas starts spraying from the engine bay and it’s only a second before the hood is blazing.”
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Antiquarian Adventures

Antiquarian Adventures Antiquarian Adventures is a pulpy tomb raiding and treasure hunting Blades In The Dark hack in the style of Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, National Treasure, and The Mummy. It is currently in early access. You can purchase it on Itch.io: https://machinespirit.itch.io/antiquarian-adventures Or you can access the full text of the game for free: https://docstyle.machinespirit.net/index.php?id=11wJ2HIV-2GkPV8jjieT6vxV_uPT6ncv3AFPCTID5blU
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You see a wyrd-touched traveller through the haze. They grant you a warding magic. What elements bind it?
Roll 2d20:
1) Salt
2) Iron
3) Bone
4) Water
5) Earth
6) Stone
7) Flesh
8) Blood
9) Wind
10) Wood
11) Feathers
12) Glass
13) Cloth
14) String
15) Oil
16) Leather
17) Gold
18) Silver
19) Coal
20) Smoke

Ok! Here’s tonight’s #MonadnockGame test build for you! http://monadnock.machinespirit.net/category/builds/ Feedback adored. Let me know how long it takes you to work it out. Explanation:The beast chooses their next hex based on the cycle depicted in the wheel but will copy you if you have built up trust by copying it and there are no options that match it’s first preference. Get both of you to the goal spaces to win. Escape will skip the level. It’s random at the moment. Some are impossible. Space will mute the lovely music by Eli Green Drums and Julia Henning.

Shadow Of Ares

I’ve got to admit I’m a bit disappointed by the shape of the third stage form of Shadows of Ares. I’ve had a look at some of Victor’s other stuff and I think the subject matter wasn’t down his alley and my super casual voice for some VERY crunchy rules definitely created a language barrier I would have tried to avoid if I’d thought about ESL participants at all. At some point the document went from being an RTF to a TXT as well which didn’t do anyone any favours. As much as I appreciate Victor Andrade’s work on making the game more accessible I think a bunch of his stuff actually diluted the super tight focus I was trying to keep on the game from the amazing fluff text I got from Chris Bennet in stage 1. My one goal in stage 2 was to take the level of granularity that games like D&D reserve for combat and apply it to the kind of jury-rigging problem solving that stories like The Martian explore. I feel like I probably achieved that and I was hoping that by using an Apocalypse World style core dice mechanic someone else could fill in the holes we found during our playtest (lack of rules for investigation or persuasion etc). I do suggest people check out the Stage 2 version because I think the RTF and limited scope are actually pretty solid and if people want to work on it with me we can probably build it out into something cool. Though there are a couple of other spacejockey games in threeforged that get the job done more neatly. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/16294442/%23Threeforged%202015/15122s2.rtf
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Platonic Mastery

So the #threeforged voting is over, congratulations to Joshua, Shreyas and Grant for Field Work (details at http://halfmeme.com/threeforged_winner_and_everything.html). Now that the veil of anonymity is lifted I can take some time to talk about the games I worked on, the first of which has to be Platonic Mastery. Not only was it my stage one game but it’s also the one that needs the most discussion. Download here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/16294442/%23Threeforged%202015/15107s3.rtf Firstly, @lumpleygames, I totally knew you were one of the collaborators for this. Your voice is so loud in the text, it’s ridiculous. Secondly, I was absolutely blown away with the third round product of this little thing. When I started threeforged I dredged through my mind for vague recollections of abandoned RPG ideas and recalled a fancy I’d had about doing an ATLA themed game using the elements to dice mapping from the Timaeus Dialogue. If I were following the advice going around a bit more I would have been a bit looser than what I ended up throwing together but after days of agonizing over the dice mechanics I ended up with a playable round one game. We playtested it and the dice mechanic worked. I submitted it and put it out of my mind as I continued work on the other games. When all the stage 3 games were released for voting I opened up Platonic Mastery and I think I cried a little while reading it. I was so unsure about the original piece I had submitted and to see it all grown up, transformed in ways that were totally beyond what I could have imagined and so evocatively written, I was blown away. So I definitely need to say, thankyou so much to Vincent and Mark for giving me that. Thirdly, My only disappointment was that one line got removed from my original text and had nothing to replace it. This rule is super awkwardly worded but losing it makes the dice mechanic fall apart and it’s one of the first things we’ll need to address if we put further work into the game: You‭ ‬may‭ ‬roll‭ ‬as‭ ‬many‭ ‬of‭ ‬your‭ ‬live‭ ‬dice‭ ‬as‭ ‬you‭ ‬wish‭ ‬but‭ ‬you‭ ‬may‭ ‬never‭ ‬use‭ ‬all‭ ‬of‭ ‬your‭ ‬live‭ ‬dice‭ ‬of‭ ‬any‭ ‬single‭ ‬kind‭ ‬on‭ ‬a‭ ‬roll‭ ‬unless‭ ‬they‭ ‬are‭ ‬of‭ ‬the‭ ‬same‭ ‬element‭ ‬as‭ ‬the‭ ‬action‭ ‬being‭ ‬performed. It’s a pity because there were a couple of reviews that pointed out the flaws in the mechanic raised by not having this limitation. Fourthly, It wasn’t until some of the voting period reviews raised the issue that I really noticed the social justice implications of the current state of the game. The problems were obviously not intentional on the parts of any of the creators but I think privilege gives you blind spots. Reading the text I was just impressed that the player characters were addressing social justice at all. As a transwoman seeing trans characters not being an outright joke or villain is the bar that media has to meet for me at the moment. I think getting the tone right here is going to be the trickiest part of fixing this game and it might actually be the hill too steep to climb but I desperately want to see a game that both retains the amazing evocative world we see in the republic and still allows for empowerment of the oppressed within it. I think it will probably need a lot of community discussion to get that right. I’m so fucking glad that the anonymity period is over now and I can talk about this stuff directly because hiding my thoughts in a review and not being able to join in other comment threads was a seriously hard time for me. I’m really looking forward to working on this further because it’s already so far along and so engaging.
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