Why Yeezy?

So, you know we have switched from out ERIS House System to the YZE for the Third Edition and we have been asked why.

The first reason is that it’s a decent system. It’s pretty grounded, pretty lethal and abstracts a lot of the bookkeeping (reducing crunch while maintaining verisimilitude). We are using the Step Dice version which is used in RPGs like Twilight 2000 4th Edition, Blade Runner, Terminal State, Exsanguine, micro2K, De Occulta.

The second is to take advantage of a lot of great content that’s been created for the Twilight 2000 4th Edition RPG. For a slightly more military campaign, the scenarios and equipment would be invaluable.

The third is making the rules available for games which need psychics but maybe don’t include them in the base game. Could Blade Runner do well with psychics? Hell, yeah.

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The 23rd Letter 3rd Edition

So, we have been working a lot on this. The rules are probably 90% complete but we keep finding little places where we think a rule or guideline is needed. Like today it was clarifiying how Hideouts function mechanically in relation to Heat from the authorities.

We are starting to look at design and layout and starting to put together an art list. Art? I mean, there was zero art in the first two editions. Yes, there will be art in this edition. Some of the new concepts need some art to illustrate.

Changes we can talk about?

  1. It’s less of a gun game. We have greatly simplified this.
  2. It’s still lethal. It’s easy to be taken out of the fight.
  3. We have changed the system considerably
  4. Psychics are much more powerful, but still vulnerable
  5. Greatly expanded rules for running the Network
  6. Oh, the metaplot. Play it or ignore it. There’s a metaplot

And we are looking for a couple of playtesters. Get in touch.

Posted in 23rd Letter, Game Design, Industry, LateGaming, Layout, The 23rd Letter, Writing | Leave a comment

Game Dev Discord

We have a Game Dev Discord which we are slowly opening up to a few more people.

Inside is space for asking questions about our existing published games as well as participating ideas for our upcoming books. Understand though that none of us do this full time – it’s a hobby where any money made pays for art. So, if this interests you, come on in!

Once you join there will be a little bit while we assign you permissions to the channels, so come in and ask what you want.

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YZE Dice Roller – including Step Dice

AJ built this YZE dice roller on the site so we have a super quick way of rolling dice and collecting successes. It’s the only one that works for Step Dice YZE as well as Pool Dice.

Click the image and add to your bookmarks!

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Dark Urban Fantasy I hear?

ExSanguine allows for the playing of Vampir Hunters, Familiars (humans enthralled by vampirs), Fiends (young vampires) and Elders. Plenty of supernaturals mentioned in there, eh?

De Occulta allows for playing of Occultists (magicians). But De Occulta presents the rules on how to magically create a “Frankenstein” as well as declaring that Pneuma can be people. So that’s two more factors (flesh golems, ghosts) in the Dark Urban Fantasy hinted at. The Shem also brings in actual golems, The Belt of Peter Stumpp brings in shapechangers if not actual classic wolf-men. The Fay are more than mentioned with the inclusion of Maleperdys and don’t forget the half-fish people in Y’a-nthlea.

Very quickly we start to build a whole pantheon of supernaturals, each with their own abilities.

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Ex Sanguine and De Occulta released: Dark Urban Fantasy

This week I released two complete books. Both of them are powered by the popular Year Zero Engine and both of them part of a series to create a “Dark Urban Fantasy” world.

The first, Ex Sanguine (Out of the Blood) is about modern vampires. It has rules for Hunters, Familiars, Fiends and Elders and the powers and Dark Gifts that Vampirism provides.
The second, De Occulta (Of the Hidden) is about modern occultists. It has rules for magic, Pneuma (spirits), Rotes (ancient spells), Relics (ancient artefacts) and describes more of the magical history of the world.

They’re completely compatible with each other as well as working with Twilight 2000 and Bladerunner, which also use the Step Dice version of YZE.

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Apocalyptic Fantasy

My contribution to this thread on the pub:

Things I think would be interesting.

  • Messed up geographies. Not necessarily Skyrealms but I based the design of Viride on a diagram of proteins floating in lipid layers (cell membrane).
  • An assumption is a planet – much like Earth. Maybe or maybe not one ecology but what if you break that assumption. Maybe the world isn’t a globe, maybe it’s a fragment of the planet held together with indescribably powerful magic powered by the living souls of mages. Maybe the forces holding the planet together kidnap magic users and insert them into the “integrity web” holding the fragment together. They’re kidnapping and dooming people on a small scale just to keep everyone else on the planet alive.
  • Messed up weather. Storms or quakes, rains of glass or acid, lightning that is super attracted to metal armour and can chain.
  • Messed up flora and fauna. Like “durlig” in Jorune – people have to eat emergency food. There’s also a lot more consumption of things that would have been “vermin”. The killing of a large “dragon” is a celebration not just because it’s a dread beast but because it’s a lot of food.
  • The Integrity Mages are the bad guys. So we give them an evil name. We then discover they’re them only reason everyone is alive.
  • Delving too deep in mines can bring you to open space. That’s very ungood. Limits metal and gem mining. And a mine turns into a vacuum hole until sealed by the magi.

There are other fragments out there and the magi can visit them. They have devices. The laws out there differ depending on which magi faction rules the fragment.
That’s a riff on breaking the geographical assumptions. Shards. Fragments.

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Effects-based Magic for YZE-Step

My favourite magic systems are from Ars Magica (and to a degree, MAGE), and the effects based system from For Faery Queen and Country.

The principle of Nothing From Nothing (and presumably, Nothing Into Nothing) I like a lot. Which means you can get shot of Creo and Perdo. It’s really just about seeing, controlling and changing

Sky
Fire
Water
Stone
Metal
Spirit

I think all Arcane spells should be prepared with an effect based system. But they need to be written. The spell is then cast by reading the spell from the paper. Arcanists can have lots of spells prepared/designed.

Sky – the element of air and weather. The satrapy of the kingdoms of night and day and the passage of the Sun and Moons.

Fire – the volatile and violent element. It provides warmth and light but also pain and death. Formed by the the leftovers when the Sun escaped from Darkness. Now it lies underground, hiding from the Sun.

Waters – in small amounts this is vital and harmless. In large amounts unfathomable and murderous. The realm of venomous and lurid creatures.

Stone – the ground beneath us and the Chthonic monsters who cause earthquakes with their movement. Their movement is linked to the lines of power and their eggs to the Wyrd places. The Earth traps and smothers fire.

Metal – where fire (the escapee) turns earth (the solid and ancient power) to water. A usurper force, the magic of metals is in the forging of superior weapons and armour.

Spirit – the great linking force. The thing that binds us all. From humans to animals to demons. Sickness is a result of the Spirit being unbalanced. Injuries can be healed through the spirit. Animals summoned and communicated with. Demons called or cast out.

As for the mechanics.

Effect based system describes the number of successes needed. As a comparison: Think each 5 points in Ars Magica being 1 success. So sometimes you’ll need 6+ successes.

Points Range Space Duration Intensity
0 Touch Hand Instant 0 (paper)
1 Close (10m) Human 1 second 1 (cloth)
2 Medium (50m) Room 1 minute 2 (wood)
3 Extreme (200m) Building 1 hour 3 (metal)
4 Line of Sight Town 1 day 4 (stone)
5 Country City 1 week 5 (diamond)
6 Continent Country 1 month 6 (Hardest Known)
7 World Continent 1 season 7 (Mithril)
8 Dimensional World 1 year 8 (Magical Alloys)
9 Multidimensional Reality Permanent 9 (Unobtainium)

That’s a lot. But that’s the sort of magic that infects a city with pestilence. 1 Success for the 1d6 Pestilence, 5 successes for the area the size of a City. 6 successes, Yikes! Even higher if you want a higher intensity pestilence.

So. How would we do that.

We want to send death to a city through the air. We will be corrupting the air with unnatural vapours. Super.
You can just roll your Path dice. So that’s d6-d12 providing up to 2 successes. We have d8 in Air.

You’ll likely need a bucket of Wyrd dice too. So spend a week in a cave at the intersection of ley lines. One d6 per day. Add in your own life force (say STR d8) and it means you can sacrifice hit points for extra successes. Yay.

Ley Lines, consuming certain lotus infused things etc, sacrifices at ley lines etc etc etc.

Hitting minimum successes sends an intensity d6 disease through the city. Lots of deaths. Extra successes can bump that to d12.

If you have a dice roller here, roll d8 (path of air) and 7d6 (each day in the ritual in a power cave) and see how many extra successes we need to hit 6

Whoops. Only 2 successes. Gotta find more helpers, some consuming of magical plants, maybe some auto successes from certain events and sacrifice some hit points.

Optional rule: 2 **1** results means a 2 bump magical mishap. 1st gives a d6. Second bumps to d8.

Magic becomes unpredictable, expensive in time and resources but also deadly. And dangerous to the caster. Who could have used Spirit rather than HitPoints. But having a weakened spirit might leave them open to possession during a magical mishap

Sympathetic Magic
If the magician has a sympathetic connection to the target (a scrap of bone, a hank of hair), then Range is considered 0, no matter what the actual range is. And this includes crossing dimensional barriers. Magic, as it is made up of the stuff that formed the multiverses, is not concerned with distance.

Foci and Trappings
Magicians can add foci objects and trappings (rituals, practices) to increase the Effects of their magic. Every focus or trapping adds 1 to the effect at a sacrifice of time. Also, if a focus is defined, then it must be present for the magician to cast their magic. A focus is usually a portable item they carry everywhere (wand, pendant, staff).

Trappings are like foci. They are time consuming things the magician must do. As a rule, each level of the trapping is taken from the Duration column and the corresponding points added to the other levels of the effect. For instance, a ritual taking 1 minute would add an Effect of 2.

Universal Nexuses
The magician can use a Universal Nexus to boost their power without recourse to using their own life force. A Nexus is a conjunction of time and space where the links between worlds are stronger and the barriers between dimensions are thinner. A Nexus will commonly be a reputedly haunted or sacred space and the veneration of these spaces contributes to their power. At a physical Nexus, the magician has an extra 2 points of Effect. At a temporal Nexus, the magician has an extra 2 points. These are cumulative. Calling on dimensional energies at Stonehenge on an Equinox will be pretty effective.

Famous nexuses include Stonehenge (or indeed, any of a thousand other stone circles in the British Isles and Western Europe), It includes places of worship, temples and burial places across the world where the emotional and spiritual outpourings of humanity have charged the fabric of reality.

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Frontier – new art, old art

Would really like the time and energy to get life paths done this month. Depends on life and everything.

I did get some new art commissioned.

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Frontier – thinking while watching The Expanse

I’ve just started a binge of The Expanse TV series and if I enjoy it, I’ll hit the book series.

There are things I really like about The Expanse.

  • They maintain momentum and include it in part of the story
  • There’s no artificial gravity
  • Missiles are long range weapons. Slugthrowers are close combat weapons (and in some cases defensive)
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2300AD

A recent surge in interest in 2300AD at The Pub has me peering at the BladeRunner RPG as a possible shim to run it. Ditching the promotion and humanity rules of course.

As I tend to run my games a little ‘narratively’, I don’t feel the need to rewrite rules for no reason. I mean, I’m not going to worry about the spaceship rules. I think that owning a space ship is not the desired campaign I’d go for. A colonist campaign would be interesting so I’m telling myself to read Building Better Worlds (the ALIEN RPG supplement) before getting started.

Other than that…it’s really about converting the Kafers. The Kafers would be an interesting addition to the ALIEN universe as well.

So, here’s to another game I’ll plan and not get a chance to run.

KAFERS (YZE-Step)

Kafers have an imposing humanoid presence, standing over two meters tall (and therefore taller than most humans other than Spacers) and are heavily muscled (emphasizing their difference again). Their torso is large, encased in a hard, spiny carapace and their skin elsewhere is tough with short coarse bristles. Their heads are relatively smooth but when their mouths open, revealing multiple structures for biting, manipulation, tearing and shredding, most humans would recoil in horror. Even worse when witnessing them feeding. Kafers are descended from a carnivorous scavenger species and their heads and mouths are designed to feed ‘head first’ into prey carcasses. Their mouthparts are also useful for ‘cleaning’ their entire head of food remnants. Their eyes are deep set with articulated ridges which again have a function in protecting the eyes when a head is plunged into a carcass.

Their hands consist of three opposable thumbs which makes using Kafer tech challenging for humans. Humans think of them as insects (hence the name in German, Kafer = bug) but they’re not remotely related to Earth insects. Probably important that in the Kafer language, they refer to themselves as “Vah”, meaning “the race”.

Kafers by and large are dull creatures, opportunistic and cruel (resembling a hyaena in play). This challenging behaviour is used in their society to make them more alert. When challenged, they release a hormone simlar to adrenaline which causes a change in their intelligence – transforming them into tactical geniuses. They’ll make use of any tactic while stimmed – and their intelligence will remain high for about thirty minutes after the conflict. Some Kafers are smarter than others and quickly are promoted to officer roles. Kafer commanders will often employ a club to beat their squads on the head and back in order to keep them alert and engaged.

Kafer expansion is about territory and access to resources. They can be highly motivated to expand onto garden worlds with indigenous life (things they can eat). They’ll pursue food and play with it, looking for a challenge that will, inadvertently, stim their intelligence. They will be dogged in their pursuit of prey (high Stamina).

Human expansion is coming to the rear of the Kafer territory and Kafers are expanding aggressively in other directions. Kafers have interpreted this as a tactical move by humans (nipping at their hindquarters) and have been enthusiastic to respond in kind. The threat posed by humans has caused a significant uptick in general intelligence among Kafers and a savage response. Retaliations in kind by humans in the French arm have been met and raised tensions accordingly. Observers would suggest that the Kafers have significant appetite for war.

STR d12
Force d8
Hand to Hand d8
Stamina d12
AGI d8
Firearms d8
Mobility d6
Stealth –
INT (d10 for officers or when stimmed)
Recon d6
Survival d6
Tech –
EMP d6
Command d12 (officers)
Medical Aid d6
Persuade –

CUF – or d12 when stimmed.
(natural reaction of unstimmed Kafers is to retreat. But 1d6 turns later, they become much smarter)

Armour: Kafers have Natural Armour of 2 for torso hits.

Kafer Talents:
KILLER
TOUGH

Kafer weapons:

Vved Ush ‘pistol’ – a heavy revolver with automatic fire
– ROF 3, Damage 2, Crit 3, Range 2
Vved Ach ‘rifle’ – with integral grenade launcher
– ROF 3, Damage 3, Crit 3, Range 5
– ROF 1, Damage C, Range 3
Vved kala’ach – a rugged laser rifle with grenade laucher
– ROF 1, Damage 2, Crit 2, Range 10
– ROF 1, Damage C, Range 3

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EXCESSION: Session 1

Excession is a new low-to-mid powered superhero game using the Year Zero Engine.

Session 1

Excession is a privately owned non profit organisation that seems to have unlimited money and a private army.

Louis and Jana are two hard chargers for the Excession organisation. Louis is a German-American with a real love of animals and an equal love of his well groomed porn-star moustache. Jana is a matronly experienced soldier with no need to prove herself. They like to get in quick, hit hard and leave the nerds to come in and tidy up. They’re both relaxing in the Ready Room when they feel the whole building, all 19 storeys, shudder. A shadow falls over the building and over the comms there’s the sound of gunfire and panic. Both grab their webbing and weapons and bolt up the stairs as the Evac siren sounds and the office workers begin to spill out of the offices and to the stairwell.

Taking the steps 4 at a time, they arrive at the roof and take cover behind an aircon unit to see a tall (3 metres tall!) silvery armoured figure directing energy weapon fire upon a fire team on the roof. They’re pinned down behind a pipe. The energy weapons fire is coming from a suspended black disc, perhaps 3 metres wide. But above it, in a seeming haze, is the ‘impression’ of a much larger vessel, perhaps cloaked.

Louis bolts for the stairs and leaps over the bannister, plummeting two floors to the upper armoury and grabs a LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weaton) and an AMR (Anti-Material Rifle) and then starts climbing up the stairs again, meanwhile Jana unclips a frag grenade from her webbing and lobs it at the silvery figure. The grenade detonates with seemingly no effect. Arriving back up, Louis hands her the LAW and he cocks the AMR. Both take aim and Louis makes an abdomen hit while the LAW round hits the being in the chest. This seems to stagger the being so they signal for the fire team to depart. One of them isn’t so lucky, Hank gets grabbed by the being and thrown off the roof….

Jana reports this over the comms and luckily there are two Enhanced on their way up. One is codenamed Jade Dragon, a superlative martial artist withthe ability to transmute objects and people to jade. The other is Strobe who has limited control over his personal space time – in effect he can stop time for a few seconds. Strobe hears about the falling Hank and detours to a window, grabbing a firehose as he runs. He shoots out the window and dives out, stopping time as he begins to fall, allowing him to catch up to the plummeting soldier. He grabs him roughly and the hose goes taut, slamming them into the side of the building three floors lower.

Meanwhile Jana and Louis pump more AMR rounds into this thing and lob grenades – which seems to stagger it. It raises a hand and there’s a pause ….and then the black disc rains heat death rays upon the rooftop. Hair singed, they barrel into the stairwell and begin to descent the stairs as quick as they can as the plaster cracks and the glass melts. They’re met by Jade Dragon on his way up who can see that the whole top three floors of the building are going up in smoke. He leaps over the balcony and falls five floors before deftly grabbing a railing and throwing himself to safety.

The vessel, slowly moves off….

Fire marshals and first aiders are checking everyone at their assembly points outside the building and the four, Strobe, Jade Dragon, Jana and Louis are approached by an elderly man, one of the trustees. They know him as Arthur Joyce. He mutters that “They’re back….” and instructs the team to go find Zachery Ackermann. When they ask him how, he says the address is with his secretary…

Switch To:

November 1945. The back of an Army truck. Sergeant Roy James and Corporal Curtis Cox have been seconded to Excession. The third man in the truck is wearing a white suit and they know he’s a Brit by the name of Arthur Joyce who made his name in the SOE during the war. They’re driven to an airfield and put onto a transport plane which flies them to the heart of Kansas. Then two more hours of driving and they find themselves in the middle of a cornfield looking at a furrow caused by a fallen meteor. But this meteor seems to be made out of silvery metal. Joyce orders Corporal Cox to jemmy open the thing and he does while Sergeant James covers with his rifle.

The capsule opens and there’s a rush of strange smelling gases. As the mist clears they see a hairless small baby, white in colour with no nose, looking at them. They tell Joyce it’s just a kid and he suggests they’ll have to deal with it. “After all, it’s an invader”. Corporal Curtis picks it up and as his flesh touches it, the baby shifts colour to his skin colour and develops a human nose and a patch of dark hair on its head. Within seconds it’s indistinguishable from a human child. Joyce again uses his horrible euphemisms about killing and the two soldiers take a stand. They ain’t killing a kid and, heck, even Nazi babies aren’t born evil – they reckon they can raise this kid. Joyce concedes and tells them to get married – if they can find a woman who’d stoop so low. Curtis asks what they’ll call the kid. Joyce interrupts, “Call him Zachery”.

End of session 1.

Posted in Excession, Game Design, GM, Supers | 1 Comment

Micro 2K

Today I released Micro2K – a distillation of the Step Dice Year Zero Engine as used in Twilight 2000 and Blade Runner.

You can nab it here for nothing!

It’s complete enough to be used with things like Twilight Tangents but you’re going to want the full rules in T2K for sure.

Posted in Game Design, LateGaming, Nor Gloom Of Night, T2000 Writing, Twilight 2000 | Leave a comment

Games in a Utopia

I guess it depends where you sit.

We live in a post-scarcity civilisation (we have the technology), we just don’t live in a post-scarcity society. Scarcity is manufacturered.

So are we close to a utopia if we fixed distribution and inequality? Well. Kinda. There would still be people with greed. People who think that the accumulation of “more” is the only purpose of life. I found The Culture’s attitude to that to be entertaining. You can really have what you want. But it’s empty because people generally don’t mingle with people driven by needless accumulation. That is a mental illness.

Is there nothing to do?

Well, assuming that there are areas where the utopia hasn’t spread, there are always the frontiers as others have said.

A few years back, I did a mini documentary on “edges” as a source of fecund diversity as you have three ecosystems. – in this context, you would have the ecosystem of the utopia, the ecosystem of the “barbarians” and then the ecosystem of the people who live on the border.

I also like the Cortex setting Hammerheads (it’s Thunderbirds) though I really can’t grok their system. Rescuing people is a good thing. From natural and man-made (or alien-made) disasters.

And the idea that while it is a utopia, the people are not mindless Eloi. They can have jealousies. Even though the replicators can make anything, they can’t manufacture something created by the hands of humans. It will always just be a copy even if molecule-perfect. Even if you can have your simulacrum sexbot, it’s not the same as the person you love. Authenticity remains.

I like the idea of gaming in a utopia. It’s better than the grubbing around for gold that is the mainstay of fantasy and most modern and sci-fi games. I’ve never been money motivated in games or real life.

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TTRPGDESIGN Update: Enhanced

I haven’t spoken much about “Enhanced” but the premise is:

“What if, in the Twilight War, the war to end all wars, there was another agent. Something that arrived on earth nearly 100 years before and spread it’s mutagenic force throughout the world, especially after it was discovered that the mutations could be controlled.

So, you end up with….gods and demons

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TTRPGDesign: Beyond Human update

Progress with Beyond Human has definitely slowed dude to working on other projects; not least ENHANCED for Twilight 2000 and The 23rd Letter 3rd Edition (as well as Xiongguo, Invasion and Rise of R’lyeh. Yes, some of those projects you’ve never heard of, but that’s just another thing slowing things down. Many many projects and I’m just this one person working on them.

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Xiongguo (working title) – playtesting begins

#ttrpgDesign #ttrpg #T2K4e #xiongguo?

So, we begin the playtest for Xiongguo (working title) next week. ?I’ve added some additional rules which are pilfered from other systems. ?Xiongguo is a simple, fast, low magic, classless sandbox based in the YZE SRD for playing in an Asian period action adventure game. There is absolutely no attempt to emulate a particular period, only to evoke a certain feeling.

The aim is to produce something that could be used to play in a game of The Water Margin, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Kingdom, The Pirates, Mr Vampire, Once Upon A Time In China, and others. It’s a little low magic to emulate Monkey or Zu Warriors. ?Purists will note I’m not only crossing nations but immensely different time periods because, as I said, this isn’t trying to be a historical recreation

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Beyond Human: Progress Report

Every day brings us a little closer to release day.

Today was about defining the attributes better and working on the rules for Pushing and Channelling powers.

Posted in 23rd Letter, Beyond Human, Game Design, Supers | Leave a comment

New Project: Beyond Human

New? I’ve been working on this for a while.

2008. I wrote that in 2008.

The project has advanced. It’s now 70 pages which puts it as the largest book I’ve made to date.

The premise is that it’s a grounded superhero game. I mean, as grounded as superhero games can really be. It’s got a lot of backstory in it because it’s the same game world that I’ve been playing in for decades. Not going to put all of that into the game – only the interesting bits.

But it’s a grounded superhero game. With a Mythos background.

So I asked an artist to sketch something.

That’s Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos.

Posted in Beyond Human, Game Design, Supers | 2 Comments

New Release: CONTRACTORS for Twilight 2000

It’s been a while and a lot of research but also a lot of fun.

CONTRACTORS for Twilight 2000

CONTRACTORS is a supplement for Twilight 2000 4th Edition detailing the operations of private military contractors in the years leading up to the Twilight War. It provides a slightly different backdrop to the game but could be an excellent introduction to the Twilight War for intrepid players who want a little more story before the war.

Build your ex-Special Forces team and then construct your Private Military Company. Choose from more than a dozen mission briefs and get your Merc team out into the world.

New Equipment. New Specialisations. New Rules. Just add Soldiers of Fortune.

Posted in Game Design, LateGaming, Twilight 2000 | Leave a comment