Tuesday, 22 December 2015

An Odd Christmas

A festive little something for Into The Odd, in the style of some of Chris McDowall's encounter tables...

"Keep Christmas in your own way" is an expression often heard in the districts of Bastion and beyond. Indeed, while people throughout the world do a multitude of things their own way, there is only the time around the Winter Solstice with which they demand and expect that they be allowed to do things exactly as they want.

If you are travelling at that most special time of year you encounter people or other things celebrating Christmas in their own way, perhaps you will be invited to join in...

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I'm a wrangler again for Secret Santicore this year, which means that yesterday I fired out a bunch of requests to people that have come through to the Santicore. There are some really, really interesting requests, and as I was sending them off all I was thinking was "Ooh, well, you could do this if you want that" and "...you know, that's something I've not seen in a game before, I wonder if..." I'm sure there are going to be some very happy faces when the anthology comes together.

I got my request from the Santicore via another wrangler (or Hellve, as we call ourselves), and so now have two weeks to work on a piece of writing. I enjoyed creating my two pieces for Santicore 2014, but they were huge - way bigger than they needed to be really. They suffered from feature creep and bloat to a big degree. I'm trying to be more concise this year, and am putting a 1000 word limit on things. I have a concept in mind to meet the request that has been given me, and I'll start collecting ideas around that for the next few days. I've got a return trip to Edinburgh to make later this week, so that will hopefully give me time and space to bash out some ideas.

Will think on and find time before I go to write a quick post about one or both of last year's Santicore offerings!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Suddenly, November

Don't ask, I don't know. Where did the last month go? I SAID DON'T ASK! Sorry... ...I didn't mean it, I've been busy and stretched with work and life stuff... Still no need to shout... Yeah I know. Still friends? ...OK...

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Notes on micro-publishing, part 4

I had three goals with making Oddpool:
  1. To have fun making something and sharing it.
  2. To learn a little about the behind the scenes logistics of this kind of enterprise.
  3. To raise some money towards artwork for future releases.
In the last three posts I've talked about how I went about making Oddpool and sharing it, what it cost to do things and how I set them up, and then I shared details of what has happened in terms of sales - and did a breakdown of where £1.99 for a print edition goes.

In total I've generated £15.41 towards future artwork (and with thinning out my RPG collection this number has been added to), so I've done something towards my third goal. What about the other two? Did I have fun? And what did I learn from doing this?

Rough, unused/non-final art of some "Spidercrew" cultists - may appear in a future Oddpool campaign...

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Notes on micro-publishing, part 3

This is my third post reflecting back a bit on making Oddpool and the experience of selling a little RPG product. On Thursday I shared a post about the practical side - how I made the pdf files and got things printed and assembled - and yesterday I looked at how I have been sharing and selling it. Today I want to look at the numbers a little bit, and then tomorrow I'll reflect on what I've learned from this small project, some questions or thoughts that I've had, and what this means for the future.
Unused piece of Oddpool artwork. Maybe next time...

Friday, 9 October 2015

Notes on micro-publishing, part 2

Oddpool has been out for a month - there are only a few print copies left - and because I want to make self-publishing RPG things a part of what I do, for fun and for profit, it seemed like a good time to look at the numbers and process involved thus far.

This not a "how-to": I'm just going to say what I did, what I think went well and what I think I could do differently, and some little things I've learned along the way. Like I said yesterday, I had three goals with making Oddpool:
  1. To have fun making something and sharing it.
  2. To learn a little about the behind the scenes logistics of this kind of enterprise.
  3. To raise some money towards artwork for future releases.
Yesterday, I shared some of the practical details of how I made Oddpool. Today, I'll look at what I did to set up a payment process, and how I went about sharing Oddpool. Tomorrow I'll look at the numbers of all this, and what I learned by doing this small project.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Notes on micro-publishing, part 1

As Oddpool has been out for just over a month now - and there are still a few print copies left for around the price of a Starbucks coffee! - and because I want to make self-publishing RPG things a part of what I do, for fun and for profit, it seemed like a good time to look at the numbers and process involved thus far.

This is by no means a "how-to": I'm just going to say what I did, what I think went well and what I think I could do differently, and some little things I've learned along the way. I had three goals with making Oddpool:
  1. To have fun making something and sharing it.
  2. To learn a little about the behind the scenes logistics of this kind of enterprise.
  3. To raise some money towards artwork for future releases.
In this post, I want to share some of the practicals on how I made Oddpool, both my process for creating the files involved and what I did to make the printed editions. In a second post I'll look at what I did to set up a payment process, and how I went about sharing Oddpool. Depending on how long I waffle in that post, it might be a third post before I get on to reflecting on what I've personally learned, and the numbers side of things, but I will get to them.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

What are those d8 Naythun Riders doing?

At the end of July, Chris McDowall wrote a post about his patrons, creating a load of people inspired by them. I've met Chris a couple of times, and I thought we got along, so was expecting that the people inspired by me would be cool ninjas, awesome dudes of noble birth, or at the very least a bunch of amazing bandits. Instead:
17: d8 Naythun Riders - Bearded Men riding Naked Men Twisted into Emu-Shape
3hp, Riding Crop (d6) OR Naythun Kick (d6)

- Offer you a chance to feed or pet their steed. 
- Muzzle their Naythun if it tries to scream out in repressed sapience.
- Defend their steeds to the death and nuzzle it uncomfortably.

Thanks Chris.

What Chris doesn't know is that the Naythun Riders have a strange and complicated society, and there are lots of subgroups and clans that one could meet on the road. In fact, researchers who have observed them - even lived with them for a time - have identified a score of situations in which they are met. When you meet Naythun Riders on the road they are...
  1. Arguing over who has the most magnificent beard.
  2. In the middle of racing their Naythuns.
  3. Mourning the death of a Naythun.
  4. Singing loudly and tunelessly.
  5. Debating the merits of various beard care regimens.
  6. Sitting drinking, halfway to a drunken stupor.
  7. Shaming one of their number by shaving his beard off.
  8. Planning a feast.
  9. Forming a raiding party.
  10. Looking for somewhere to camp for the night.
  11. Trying to find something to drink.
  12. Trying to find treasure that they hid when they were drunk.
  13. Celebrating a young rider's first facial hairs.
  14. Looking for new potential Naythuns to train.
  15. Writing bad haiku / That's exploring life and death / And, like, things. Yeah.
  16. Grooming their Naythuns.
  17. Playing a game of pretend and make believe.
  18. Washing their beards in blood and water.
  19. Plotting murder.
  20. Committing murder.
If they're plotting murder or committing murder you can be sure that their target is one of the Creesmac D'Walls - undead sommeliers from an underverse vineyard, 3hp, Glass Bottle (d6) or Boneblade (d6)...

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

OSRewind: September 16th

Yesterday I shared the idea of a daily digest that looks back at the posts made in the OSR (or maybe games blogs in general?) in previous years. There's lots and lots and lots of ideas out there, with more being shared every day. A look back could highlight ideas that have been forgotten or showcase the origins of concepts that are part of the language of the OSR now.

I'm quite taken with the idea but not sure if it's something I can commit to exploring along with the other projects that I have underway. But for today at least, and because the term "OSRewind" popped into my head as I was thinking about this, here's a quick jaunt through the last few years...
  • 2014: [Tuesday Map] Hubert's Tower/The Butcher's Tower - Dyson's Dodecahedron - I really like the step-by-step approach and the details of how this was done. I'm quite keen on the how-to of maps at the moment so seeing this was serendipitous!
  • 2013: Demogorgon implies.... - Playing D&D With Porn Stars - A really cool method for world building and inspiring interesting ideas for sandboxes. If I get around to running Oddpool on G+ some time soon I think I'll be using this method to set the city up.
  • 2012: The Verbs of Madness - False Machine - My nephew and his friends were players in a campaign that Patrick ran and which I turned up to sometimes. Being teenagers their minds quickly turned to evil, and they ended up allied with a genuine Dark Lord. In this post Patrick describes how the Dark Lord comes up with his orders.
  • 2011: Faking It; or, you'd better be Al Pacino; or, stop rolling the fucking dice - Monsters and Manuals - a short rant about player agency, DM fiat and Quantum Ogres goes on to generate 121 comments! Hoo-ha!
Something visual, a couple of solid tools and a bit of a theory: nice things to find and start thinking about...

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

On This Day

I've grown to love exactly one aspect of Facebook over the last few months. I hate the interface, I hate the notifications I get when I logon, I hate that I see things that people have liked, I hate to see that a friend-of-a-friend has posted something and a friend has liked it. There's a lot to hate.

But one thing I love is the "On This Day" feature, letting me look back and see what happened in years gone by. For post-fatherhood this is quite nice, it lets me see my daughter a year ago (and soon, two years ago) and I can do that whole "Awwww, she's grown so much!" thing that some people find sickening. It also lets me peer back to the early days of married life, and even further to my PhD days - in fact, exactly seven years ago today I said goodbye to that and started my business!

Time flies.

In the last few days I recorded an episode of A Gaming Podcast About Nothing, and Dave and I got on to talking about terminology and blogging and "has everything been said already?" - things of that nature. This conversation is on my mind, as is "On This Day"...

People have said in the past that it might be difficult to do a regular "OSR Digest" as a site or a newsletter, but I wonder if there is some value in a site that looks through the back catalogue of the OSR and does a regular link share about posts from days gone by - with or without commentary.

For example, on this day:
It's interesting to see people riffing on ideas as they come up, but I wonder what ideas might be re-discovered or re-examined - even appreciated more - by looking back?

Friday, 11 September 2015

Not appearing in Oddpool

Honestly, this is the last post about it for a while, I swear...

In making a Pocketmod-sized supplement you have to make really hard choices. What stays, what goes; how much detail can you afford; what sized font can someone read or not - I was tweaking and tweaking for a while. A very hard choice I had to make was whether or not to include the Superlambanana in the booklet. In the end, I decided not to include it, more because an idea like it would need artwork and I wasn't quite sure about what I could or couldn't do with a work of art, and I was struggling to come up with a name that was as expressive as Superlambanana.

So in the end, it was cut out, but it left a nice giant-sized hole for the Pool-Auks, which are actually much more symbolic of the city. The Superlambanana would have been nice though...

Twenty-feet high, apex wandering creature
STR15, DEX15, WIL20, 25HP
Driven to protect babylambananas. d8 stomp, Armour 2. Can always hear any distressed offspring and will come to their aide. Spawns a new child every four days, extruding from the back surface over a period of an hour. Often accompanied by 2-8 babylambananas.

Horse-sized smooth sheep/fruit hybrids
STR10, DEX10, WIL7, 2HP
Driven by curiosity. No attack, Armour 1. Harmless, mouthless, bleats. Will approach strangers and shiny things. Will have a nest of shiny objects, which may contain treasure.

(Oddpool - now down to the last six of the signed and numbered print copies!)

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


I mentioned yesterday that I have a sheet of paper stuck on the wall next to my desk. It lists the various projects that have floated through my mind and made it as far as "huh, that might work..." Some of these are things that readers of the blog (before the longish hiatuses) might recognise, and some people from G+ might recognise one or two others. Some, I think, you will not recognise or guess at all. Here are my project codenames with some brief teasers:
  • Project PARRISH: a really random encounter, a game within a game.
  • Project ALMANAC: mentioned this on the blog... Now thinking this might be best as a crowdsourced thing.
  • Project SOLO: started thinking about this after Dave and I played some choose-your-own-adventure books on A Gaming Podcast About Nothing.
  • Project VINGT: a regular zine idea that just never quite came together in my head. But maybe it's time to look at it again...
  • Project SANTA: putting together the very first D&Dish thing I created and ran, a Christmas themed adventure. My wife thinks I should focus on getting this finished by the middle of November and released.
  • Project SHADES: half an idea for a system-and-setting wide hack of LotFP. Good old fashioned OSR-y mechanics, in a not-too-distant-future...
  • Project OORT: if you've read this blog before you'll know what this is!
  • Project STUDIO1: something I'm working on now, which has a real working title but I'm not quite settled yet. Expect an announcement in the next couple of weeks.
  • Project POOL: Oddpool. So that's one done!
  • Project BANK: a microgame, just trying to get the mechanics right, but the core idea has been unchanged for about two years...
  • Project HOBOES: a hack of a two player game that I like, but a radically different setting. Needs work, but I have a general map that is about 80% solid.
And that's everything on the wall at the moment. Am hopeful that Project STUDIO1 will be finished by Christmas, and am very tempted to check my notes and materials for Project SANTA, see how far I got. I need to settle on something for Project BANK and just try the damn thing, see if I like it at least. And Project OORT... I'll try to start blogging more of that soon!

More importantly: time to pick one or two small projects, do them, learn something and carry on.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Thanks! and Small Projects

It's not about Oddpool at all.

Oh wait, it is a little bit...

At the time of writing, there are only ten print copies of Oddpool left. Given that it went on sale on Friday, is a teeny-tiny tome, and is a home-made DIY thingy, I'm quite pleased!

I was really inspired by a post I read some time ago on small projects. The TL;DR version: "doing lots of small things could help to develop ideas and to share them - and maybe feel more personally satisfied." Still, it took me a long time from reading that article, and re-reading it, to make the connection with even more tangible things like Oddpool - a small project if ever there was.

A year or so ago, in my day job, I ran a workshop where I was the subject of a business case study exercise: I ran some numbers by them about running my own micro-business of RPG things. A dozen very well-educated people told me: "The numbers say no. Good sense says no. Invest your time, skills and effort elsewhere and you'll do better." Which didn't sit right. Because I wanted - and want! - to do something in RPGs but I didn't know what or how.

I have a piece of paper with projects on it stuck to the wall next to my desk, looming over me, all daring me to do something. But until I got some feedback from friends - "this is fun" - I had stopped thinking that I could do anything. Small projects are the way forward for me, I think, with writing and doing things for RPGs.

Selling fifteen print copies of a Pocketmod is a beginning. Like Patreon campaigns, this is not a get rich scheme: it's a "help me" proposal. Picking up a Pocketmod or making a donation via pay-what-you-want for Oddpool means that my options open up. I can think seriously about other projects because:
  • some people bought this first thing, maybe they'll buy something else.
  • I have this money from the first thing as seed funding for the next thing.
  • I have a little bit more confidence that I can work towards the next thing.
In many respects that last one is the most important.

I have plans, and Oddpool is helping make that happen - if you've picked it up, thank you!

Unused Oddpool artwork, maybe for another time...

Friday, 4 September 2015

Oddpool is out!

Want a peek at a weird ruined city for explorers to look around when playing Into The Odd or other role-playing games? Want to get your creative brains thinking about what people might find at places like the Dead Fields, the Copper Tombs or the Red Keep? Want inspiration for thousands of strange gangs that survive there? Want half a dozen creatures that have been sighted in the ruins?
And do you want it all to fit in your pocket?

You want Oddpool.

Inspired by the city of Liverpool, Oddpool is an eight-page Pocketmod mini-booklet which answers yes to all of the questions above. You can find it on Payhip where it's a pay-what-you-want pdf download, or if you want to be part of an exclusive club, you can buy a print edition from me! Details are on the Oddpool page: to start things off I've got a limited run of 25 numbered and signed copies, printed on good 120gsm paper, cut and folded by me: £1.99 if you're in the UK, £2.75 if you're somewhere else in the world.

But wait, there's more! I wanted to compare paper qualities, so got an equal number of 90gsm copies too, before settling on the 120gsm paper stock. I'll be putting a 90gsm paper copy in every order of a print edition from me, so you can pass it on to someone else. Details for ordering are on the Oddpool page.

Oddpool is the first thing I've made and shared like this, so I hope you like it. If you do, let me know - and maybe let other people know too, that's fine by me!

Big thanks to Chris McDowall, creator of Into The Odd for being so supportive of me making this! And thanks to you for reading this page, whoever you are, I hope you enjoy Oddpool as much as I enjoyed making it.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

People in Oddpool

When I ran a game set in Oddpool, I was of course influenced by the people of the city. At the same time, the game city is supposed to be a ruin, filled with weird creatures, strange architecture and general bizarreness. The people who live in Oddpool do so in small groups/gangs, with their own customs, their own wants and needs, and their own ways of interacting with others. When I ran my game, I just slapped Redmen and Bluemen in, as substitutes for football supporters, but for the Pocketmod I wanted something better.

I've been heavily inspired by David McGrogan's inspiration tables over the years (I've shared a few of my own on this blog before), so it seemed like the most natural fit for the Pocketmod would be to provide a little inspiration tool for generating groups and gangs of Skalls: rolling gives a couple of details to then inspire the GM to create the rest of the group. I've used the table to generate the following, Skalls you may find on the streets of Oddpool.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Why of Oddpool

At the start of 2015 I was really interested in playing Into The Odd, and while the print edition hadn't gone to press yet I had the pdf and two interested players in the form of Patrick Stuart and David McGrogan. The system looked so simple to run, I thought that I would take a stab at quickly putting some notes together for a sort of city crawl. Liverpool is just on my doorstep, and it's where all three of us grew up around or lived for a while, so it seemed like it would be fun.

As it happenened, on the day, we were playing in the cafe of the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton, which looks out over the River Mersey and at an old sea defence, Fort Perch Rock. It made sense to me then to start the adventure there, a weird some-when counter-Earth that is fundamentally Odd. Captain Jean wants Henry Winkler (Patrick) and Karl Kennedy (Dave) to go into the ruined city of Oddpool to scout it out, see what they can find and report back.

They cross the river on a converted ferry boat, and then creep around the streets, tangling with strange gangs, mechsuit-corpses, zombies and a bizarre sheep-banana-hybrid giant. They made deals with a gang, ran from danger and survived despite their retainers taking a couple of hits. It was a lot of fun to run, and then after writing a quick AP on G+, the ideas went back on to the back burner as with so many other projects.

Flash forward to the summer, and I'm meeting Patrick and Dave again, along with Into The Odd's Chris McDowall, in order to playtest Dave's new project. I bring along my copies of their books for them to sign, and made a little Pocketmod from some of my Oddpool notes so that I didn't feel left out. I shared the pdf on G+, zero artwork, really rough around the edges, and a fair few people seemed to like it, and so the wheels started turning again...

For the longest time I've wanted to publish something for role-playing games. Why not have the first step be a little Pocketmod? I have lots of pictures of Liverpool, I live nearby and can take more, I have the tools to typeset something simple... Why not do it?

So I am, simple as that. I've been working on this in my spare time (and sometimes not in my spare time!) for the best part of a month, off of notes and ideas that have been percolating for about eight months. It's a little 8-page booklet that gets folded from a single sheet of A4. Directly compatible with Into The Odd, easily hacked ideas for other systems. If I make any profits from making this available I'm going to be reinvesting them into artwork for other projects (and I might go for tea and toast with my wife and daughter).

More soon: tomorrow, three groups that operate within the ruins of Oddpool...

Monday, 31 August 2015


In April I was working on a hack of Into The Odd - and I still am, it's just taking me longer than I thought it would. I had a busy time of things with work for a few months, and then my priorities shifted. Into The Oort is still coming along, but I have a couple of smaller projects that I want to do before then.

The first thing to do is to release Oddpool, an eight-page pocketmod that casts Liverpool as a ruined city for exploring.

Fingers crossed, last details to check and so on and so forth, I'll be releasing this on Friday! Which is very exciting. I'll be releasing it as a pay-what-you-want pdf download, and also looking at getting a small print run printed on 120gsm paper, home-made/-assembled and numbered or something - something a little fun. Over the next few days I'll say more about it - and maybe hint at another project I'm eager to start soon.

But the battery on my laptop is dying so I must sign off for now. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Into The Oort: Hexes

Into The Oort is set in a region of space that is 50,000 astronomical units (AUs) from the Sun, way out where the comets that orbit the Solar System move in a vast shell across a huge region of space. What is an AU? An AU is the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Which is vast. To reflect the incredible distances and emptiness of space, each hex is 10AU across. Approximately 1.5 billion kilometres. If you were moving at the speed of light it would take over an hour to cross a hex.

A hex is big.

As with other settings, a hex in the Oort has a quality to it. In another game it might be called the "terrain". Some are basically space, empty; some have dust clouds, some have a high gas concentration, some have cometary debris, some have rogue asteroids in them. With the distances involved, there is a good chance that there is a human settlement of some form somewhere in a hex; if not, there is a good chance that there is an old human settlement - something abandoned or lost or wrecked. And of course there are ships that are travelling here and there; the Oort Cloud is big but the people living there are not static.

Occupied settlements might have huge populaces - tens of thousands of people - or only have a few dozen, or even less. The Hub - the largest human settlement that anyone knows about - has far more people than anywhere else, and no-one knows quite how many people live there.

The region of the Oort Cloud 50,000AU has, from a back of an envelope calculation, on the order of 500 million hexes. If, on average, each hex has a thousand people in it (some have far more, some have far less) then this region of the Solar System might have 500 billion people living in it.

Variety and wonders and opportunities are everywhere...

A note: for the playtest campaign and ultimately a release of Into The Oort I am planning to populate a region of around 50 hexes around the Hub, along with tables for populating hexes with settlements, groups and people. I've shared an in-progress document for generating the basic outline of a human habitat before; if you haven't seen it you can get it here.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Into The Oort: Ships 2

In Into The Oort, ships have three stats, just like player characters. They also reflect, sort-of, the features or attributes of the player stats (which at the moment have the same name as stats in Into The Odd, Strength, Dexterity, Willpower). The three stats in Oort for ships are currently:
  • HULL: the physical structure of the ship; the exterior, the interior, how spaceworthy it is, and so on. It is no indicator of size particularly, or speed - it is more about resilience.
  • DRIVE: a measure of how fast a ship is and also how well it handles. It is used almost-directly to calculate transit times across large distances (a hex can be crossed in 20-DRIVE days by a ship), and over short distances it is needed to make difficult manoeuvres.
  • SCAN: the sensors of the ship - whether those are heat-based, x-ray, optical wavelengths or radio transmissions. It is also a measure of how good those systems are for understanding what signals have been picked up.
Unlike characters, rolls are made under the ship stats for active choices rather than saves. For example:
  • Roll under the SCAN stat when you are trying to look for something.
  • Roll under the DRIVE score when there is a difficult comet debris trail to navigate.
  • Roll less than your HULL when you're trying to maintain the ship in a difficult situation.
Does that make sense? I hope so. I don't have much more to say about ships today, I suppose I just wanted to clarify or share a few more details beyond what I mentioned in the last post.

I'm creating tables that generate the appearance of ships, but my impetus for doing so is for NPC ships to be generated quickly. Players could use some them though, but appearance could also be left to player-choice - so long as they can choose fast. As with Into The Odd, I aim for players to get playing ASAP. At the time of writing I'm constructing a table to give some details of the features of the ship - does it have something special like missiles, a cloaking device or a leaking engine coil? Or is it perhaps owned by someone else or a notorious past?

Friday, 24 April 2015

Into The Oort: Ships

Chargen in Into The Odd is one of the fastest things I've seen for a game. 3d6, 3d6, 3d6 and a d6 and then mechanically it's done. Sure, you might want to make up some details of what your person looks like or talk about how they know the other players' characters, but after a brief flurry of rolling you're done.

I want the same thing for chargen in Into The Oort, but also for shipgen as well; a starting group of players has their own ship, which has three stats that are related to different mechanical aspects of the ship. Roll 3d6 for HULL, 3d6 for DRIVE and 3d6 for SCAN, along with a d6 for shield points. Shields are always on, as a kind of energy shield to deflect dust and particles. In a pinch they absorb and redistribute weapons fire; once they're overloaded damage is taken by ship systems, but it only takes a short break from combat before the shields are back online.

Some combination of highest/lowest stat and the d6 for shield points will index a table that gives some details on what else the ship has - type of weapons, armour, special systems, and so on. I'm looking at ways to make other aspects of shipgen as simple. I think that there are possibly three other aspects which could be done quickly, and I've tried something for them recently at my second playtest game.

I had a short table of six entries for each of three aspects: TYPE, CREW, CARGO. Players roll three d6 as a group, and then use each result to pick out what they want. 6s are generally better than 1s. So at the playtest I think they got 6, 6 and 1. They assigned the 6s to TYPE and CARGO and the 1 to CREW. For the purposes of the playtest this meant that they had a decommissioned warship, two valuable cargoes but a small cargo hold, and they only had a skeleton crew of two others.

I liked this, but it also seemed slightly at odds with the other mechanical setup. That may or may not be a bad thing. I liked the aspects of choice rather than totally random gen. The discussion at the table - "We want an ex-warship, but do we need a good crew? Would it better to have no cargo?" - was great, and didn't take long. I can see that it might take a different group more time deciding what ship they want. I'm not 100% sure about it yet, so it might change.

What do you think? Any questions? Maybe in the next post I'll say something about how the different main ship stats work, mechanically, in the game.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Into The Oort: Start

Some time ago I was convinced that I wanted to run a game called Dogs In The Oort Cloud. I had this idea that there was something attractive about religious peacekeepers in a far future solar system, on the edge of interstellar space, going from asteroid to asteroid, helping to solve problems and mete out justice.

(There's a whole other post that I want to write some day soon about why DitV is such an attractive proposition for me, that for the faults I find in the game's mechanics I actually found it to be one of the best campaigns that I've had the pleasure of being able to run. But another day!)

Time and life intervened. Apart from one shots I've not run a game for ages, but I keep reading, keep noodling ideas, keep on talking nonsense with David over on A Gaming Podcast About Nothing. And then towards the end of last year Paolo Greco posts a link to a new thing he is publishing by some guy called Chris. The price is right, so I buy the pdf. I flick through it for ten minutes and email Paolo asking if I can upgrade to get the print version.

Into The Odd is fantastic for many reasons: the setting is imaginative and heavily themed (implicitly), but not described through page after page of flavour text. Everything about the setting you get from the various tables. Chargen can be done in a minute, and the mechanics for various resolutions are easy for beginners and familiar for more experienced hands. It's a game that anyone could be a party of playing.

And precisely because the game is so clear, so simple in mechanics, it popped into my head that it could be perfect for combining with my idea of the Oort Cloud as a setting. Gone are the religious peacekeepers (for now, although they're in the background as one possible group in the Oort Cloud) and hello to adventurers and explorers, traders and tyrants, anyone and everyone existing thousands of years from now at the edge of everything.

This has been my creative playground for the last few months; tables and setting things are coming together, and I took a step to start sharing some work-in-progress tables for various elements. I'm a big believer in tables as a useful aid or prompt for setting generation (inspiration providers), so while some of them have been difficult to put together so far, they've always been there for a clear reason for having them.

This is the first in a series of who-knows how many posts. It's a long time since I've posted on this blog (although until fairly recently I was doing a good job of maintaining a work blog) and I hope to update a few times per week as I talk about where Into The Oort is going - ultimately, I'm aiming at publishing it - but that's a little way off yet.

Thankfully not 50,000 astronomical units though.