Monday, 20 August 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Quick Start version 16

It's now been over six months since I released the last version of the SotGH Swift d12 Quick Start rules, but I've been working on this update for a while -- it adds eight additional pages and includes many changes to the rest of the document, incorporating feedback from several playtest sessions (including a very cool urban fantasy adventure ran by Manuel Sambs, using Swift d12 as a generic system).

Download it from here.

Summary of changes:
  • Removed the ability check descriptors (such as "perception-based guile checks"). These were a mouthful to describe, and the game feels more intuitive without them.
  • Briefly clarified how opposed ability checks work.
  • Streamlined advancement (dropped experience points).
  • Renamed the "abilities" to "attributes" (because of the introduction of talents).
  • Added three talents (Athletics, Perception and Stealth). Arguably they could have been left as part of the attributes, however they come up very frequently during adventures, and it makes it easier to reference them if they're listed separately (if I just wrote "Guile check" instead of "Perception check", I'd then have to clarify that it was related to perception, so that players knew which Feats or Flaws applied).
  • Added "Backgrounds". These are inspired by games like BoL and SotDL, Backgrounds represent broad skill categories (one might compare them to the way Common Knowledge works in Savage Worlds). I feel this is a good compromise, as it gives the characters more diversity without needing to track individual skills.
  • There's no longer a once-per-session cap on Flaws, instead you can now invoke them as often as you like, however you can only recover spent Karma Points (so you can't stockpile over your starting quota).
  • Rather than "Loner" being a special case, there's now a category of "Handicap" Flaws. There are also suggestions for changing Flaws during the campaign.
  • The "defend" action now provides twice the normal benefit when using a shield or buckler.
  • The "run" action now provides you a +2 damage bonus if you move at least 3 squares before attacking. In effect, it doubles up as a charge maneuver.
  • There's a small section about "Prepared Actions". This was necessary to avoid scenarios where someone steps out from behind cover, takes a shot, then ducks back again -- if there was no way to interrupt them, it would be impossible to ever shoot them back.
  • Clarified what happens when multiple complications are triggered at the same time, and added two examples of complications (friendly fire, and unstable devices).
  • If you "delay" during initiative, you can take one simple action as if it were a free action. Previously this cost a Karma Point, which meant there was no incentive for Mooks to ever delay. Now, it gives you a -2 penalty to your standard actions, and you have the option of spending a Karma Point to eliminate the penalty for rush/delay.
  • Added a section on mounts and vehicles.
  • Taking a free attack against a foe who withdraws from close combat now causes the attacker to become Staggered. This makes it more of a tactical decision, and avoids the scenario where 8 foes retreat from combat, and you get a free attack against all 8 of them.
  • Chases now use Athletics when on foot or mounted, and Agility when driving a vehicle.
  • Renamed "Fast Skirmish" to "Quick Skirmish", so the rule has the same name as the Savage Worlds version of SotGH.
  • Character creation now has a page on Backgrounds, and the Flaws have been slightly revised. The Feats have been redone (there's now a much larger list), they are now defined by category, with simple requirements and rules for stacking. There's also two pages on Spells.
  • The introductory adventure and pregenerated characters have been updated to reflect the new changes.
I'm now fairly happy with the latest rules, they smooth off the rough edges from the previous version (such as descriptors, lack of skills, the magic system, etc). Although there will no doubt be additional refinements in the future, I now feel comfortable starting work on the generic Swift d12 rules.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Galactic and Monster Countdown Decks

Back in June, I released the Saga of the Goblin Horde Countdown Deck. Feedback has been fairly positive, so I thought it'd be fun to create a couple more decks -- a planet-based Galactic Deck for science fiction games, and a Monster Deck that can be used for fantasy, horror or even science fiction (i.e., alien races). Unlike the goblin deck, these have illustrations on every card, not just the face cards.


A couple of people suggested giving all the decks the same back, so that they could be mixed and matched. I tried it, but it really didn't work out thematically (sorry guys), so in the end I decided to give each deck its own back:



As with the goblin deck, I've released free Virtual Tabletop versions (which you can grab here and here), as well as physical decks which you can purchase here and here.

I've also teamed up with Just Insert Imagination to create a couple of discount bundles, for people who want to buy all three decks along with the Mutation Deck. This is particular nice for those who live outside the US, as DriveThruRPG only print cards in the US, and the international shipping costs are brutal; if you're buying four decks at once, it's not quite so bad.

You can grab the physical bundle here, or the print-and-play bundle here.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Silver ENnie Award!


I entered the ENnies for the first time this year, submitting both Blood & Bile and Saga of the Goblin Horde. While I didn't expect to win anything, I figured the extra exposure (from being included in the submission list) might draw a little more attention to my work.

With 514 submissions from 251 different publishers, and only 5 nominations in each category, the competition was pretty fierce. So I was both surprised and honored when Saga of the Goblin Horde was nominated for "Best Free Game" by the judges!

Sadly I wasn't able to attend Gen Con in person, but I watched the live stream, and was very excited when Saga of the Goblin Horde won a Silver ENnie! The Gold ENnie Award went to Todd Crapper, for his excellent High Plains Samurai: Legends -- you can see the full list of winners here, and watch the recording of the award ceremony here (Best Free Game starts at 23:37).

As far as I can tell, this is the first time a Savage Worlds fan licensed product has won an ENnie, and I hope it will encourage more people to take fan products seriously. It was also the only Savage Worlds product to win a 2018 ENnie Award (although this is certainly no reflection on those other products, as they had to compete with some much bigger industry names).


I know there are veteran game designers who pick up loads of awards, but this was the first product I'd self-published on DriveThruRPG, and the ENnies really help draw attention to my work. Even though Saga of the Goblin Horde is free, I do sell related products (like the Configurable Map and the Countdown Deck), and have plans for many more in the future, including the Swift d12 version of Saga of the Goblin Horde.

Of course I couldn't have done it without the support of my fans, so I'd like to give a huge thank you to everyone who voted for me! I'll also be releasing the new adventures I ran at Savage Con as soon as I've finished writing them up.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Savage Con: What a Ride!

At the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Savage Con, the UK's only Savage Worlds convention. It was a pure gaming event, with three time slots on Saturday and two on Sunday, and three different games for each time slot. All of the games looked good, so I had to pick carefully.


I drove up to Redhill with an old friend of mine (Steve), and as he didn't have much experience with Savage Worlds (or know most of the settings), he decided to sign up to the same games as me. Unfortunately I came down with a rotten cold just before the con, and lost my voice, but I gave it my best shot! Here's a quick breakdown of the games I attended.

Saturday

Game 1: Deadlands - The Taxidermists Tale

Owen Lean is a Savage Worlds freelancer who has worked on a number of different projects. While I never really got into Deadlands, I've heard a lot of good things about this particular One Sheet (which he wrote for Pinnacle), so I jumped at the opportunity to join his game.

We had an absolute blast! Owen provided a selection of pregenerated characters with strong ties to each other and the adventure (he really should release these for other people, they're a perfect fit for The Taxidermists Tale!), and the players worked well together as a team.

While Owen has a natural knack for GMing and improvisation, and obviously knew the adventure inside out, I think we still managed to give him one or two surprises! But he just rolled with it, and kept the Bennies flowing, even when I shot the Big Bad for 6 wounds!


Think "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" meets "Only Fools and Horses". This adventure was written by Alexis Hunt, but it was run by Nikk Lambley (both are hosts on the TTT Podcast), and he did an amazing job.

Steve said this was his favorite game at the con, because he understood the setting, and knew what sort of things he could do. I think this was probably my favorite as well, by a narrow margin—although all of the GMs were top-notch, and I'd be very hard pressed to choose a favorite, the party dynamic we had in this particular game was a perfect fit for the scenario.

There were five players, with nobody dominating the group or taking a backseat role, and we were able to reach a reasonably quick consensus on how to execute our heist (and because it was a sandbox game, it really was entirely our own plan). Nikk is really good at doing different NPC voices, and he reacted to our plans without trying to lead us in any particular direction. I think his GMing style would be a perfect fit for a more freeform game like Blades in the Dark.


Another humorous game, this one co-written by Alexis Hunt and Eric Lamoureux, and run by James Clarke (who is also a host on the TTT Podcast). The PCs are aliens attempting to kidnap a pageant winner from a small redneck town, as they need her DNA to save their planet.

James did a fantastic job of GMing—his NPC voices and impressions were hilarious, and the adventure had all sorts of twists and turns, with some very memorable scenes (such as riding on a lawn mower with a zombie, and licking a corpse during a funeral). James also created some really cool thematic props, and added a truly disgusting conclusion to the adventure.

I really enjoyed the game, but with just two players (Steve and I) it didn't have quite the same group dynamic as the earlier games. With one or two more players, it would have been perfect.

Sunday


On Sunday morning I ran Saga of the Goblin Horde for Alexis, Nikk, James, Pete and Steve. In retrospect I should have insisted that the louder players sit at the back of the table, so I apologise to Pete for not always responding, but I hope everyone had fun.

Most of my One Sheets take me around 2-3 hours to run, depending on the size of the group, and this time I had a 4 hour time slot. So I decided to prepare three adventures, and just squash them down as needed on the day, depending on how much time I had left. The adventures were connected to each other, and I will release them as a three-part mini PPC when I get the chance to write them up properly.

The first adventure drew inspiration from heist movies such as The Italian Job and The Bank Job, except it involved stealing a Hand of Glory rather than money, so I called it "The Hand Job". The second adventure was called "Hole of Glory", and involved using the Hand of Glory to gain entrance to an underground lair. The third adventure, "Mourning Wood", was a treasure hunt in a haunted forest.

Game 2: Lankhmar - Bob the Slob and Clobber Job

Although I backed the Lankhmar Kickstarter, I never read the original novels, so to me it's just another fantasy setting. I mainly signed up because I wanted to be in one of Alexis's games—and he certainly didn't disappoint!

The adventure involved tracking down and capturing a man named Bob the Slob, who had apparently ripped off the thieves guild. In theory a simple job, but of course it ended up being far from simple to execute, and as you can probably imagine (with Alexis as the GM) we got up to all sorts of shenanigans—from the rake who seduced seven women at the same time, to the toilet grappling scene, to the brutal rooftop chase, all supported by Alexis's funny NPC voices.

At the conclusion of the adventure we turned the tables on our employer, and managed to trick the thieves guild out of a huge sum of money. But of course Alexis couldn't leave it at that, so he told us that several months later we were assassinated in our sleep, after the guild discovered what we'd done :P

Summary

Steve and I had an awesome time, and really appreciated all the effort that went into the organization and planning of the event. I've been running and playing Savage Worlds since 2010, but this was the first time I've had the chance to play (as opposed to GM) a face-to-face game in English.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: ENnies voting has started!


I've published a lot of content for Saga of the Goblin Horde, but I couldn't have done it without the support and encouragement of the community. I hope I can count on your support once more in the 2018 ENNie Awards, as Saga of the Goblin Horde has been nominated for "Best Free Game", and there is some stiff competition!

Please don't forget the other Savage Worlds products that are up for nomination, either: The Seven Worlds Campaign Book (Best Adventure), Up to Four Players (Best Website), and Holy Crap: The Great Sects Change Operation (Best Supplement and Best Writing).

You can vote here: ENnies 2018 Election

To celebrate the nomination, I've also decided to release some bonus material for the setting, starting with the Goblin Princess archetype, which you can download here.

Enjoy, and thank you for your support!

Friday, 6 July 2018

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Nominated for an ENnie Award!


At the beginning of May, I saw a message about the final submission date for the 2018 ENnies, and in a spur-of-the-moment decision, I submitted Blood & Bile and Saga of the Goblin Horde. I nearly didn't bother, as I'm still very new to self-publishing, and there's a lot of fierce competition from other high-quality products -- but I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went for it.

This year there were 514 submissions from 251 publishers and creators, more submissions than any previous ENnie. So it came as a big surprise (and a great honour) to discover that Saga of the Goblin Horde has been nominated for "Best Free Game", alongside four other excellent products: Esper Genesis, High Plains Samurai: Legends, Modos 2 and Forthright!

The voting opens on 11th July and ends on 21st July, and the winners will be announced at GenCon on 3rd August.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Commission artwork: Describing what you want

Jiaxingseng recently wrote a blog post about his art development process, and included the description he gave to the artist. It's an interesting read, and somewhat different to the way I handled my goblin princess commission from Rick Hershey, so I thought I'd post my own description for comparison purposes:
The basic concept is a fairly classic swirling-dress Cinderella: http://www.thefeministwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Cinderella.jpg
However she's a goblin instead of a human, and her slippers have pointed steel toecaps (this is important because one of the adventures is a spin on the classic Cinderella story; instead of leaving her slipper at the ball, she leaves it embedded in someone's head during a brawl).
She should have a golden ball in one hand, like that in the classic "Frog Prince" story: http://theblogofteresa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/the-frog-prince-story-1.jpg
In her other hand, she should have some sort of oversized vicious-looking blade. My initial thought was something that looks similar to the "chopper" from your Assorted Items Vol 1 art pack, which would be resting across her shoulder a bit like this: http://wallpapers.boolsite.net/srv11/Images/Wallpapers/JeuxVideos/SoulCalibur/SC_ Siegfried_02.jpg
Her skin color should be roughly a similar sort of green to the goblins on my archetypes cover.
Eye color should be yellowish (yellow-green or yellow-orange is also fine, but not red, as I'm intentionally trying to distance my setting from the Pathfinder goblins, who are usually illustrated with red eyes).
My preferred dimensions would be roughly 5.5 to 6 inches high, and 4.5 to 5 inches wide. That's ideal for a full sized internal illustration, while a slightly reduced version will still be wide enough to look good on the cover.
Other accessories and embellishments would be at your discretion, the important thing is that she should look like a extremely dangerous goblin version of a fairy tale princess*, and have the steel toecaps and golden ball for the adventure tie-ins. I could envision her having a light blue dress splattered with blood, perhaps with a spiked collar and bracers, but I'll leave that up to you to decide, depending on what you think looks best.
* She isn't really a princess in the traditional sense though, she's a chieftain's daughter, so please don't add a crown.
Rick then provided me with a rough sketch to make sure he'd covered the basics:


I replied with some further detail:
The sketch looks great, the only thing I would ask is that the sword be made longer (perhaps increase the blade length by 50%). The pitch for the first adventure is as follows:
The Princess and the Peabrain: What happens when a foolish ogre kidnaps a goblin princess from her tower, only to discover that she'd been locked in to protect others, rather than for her own safety?
I envision it as a sword she took from the ogre, so it would be far bigger than a typical goblin weapon - probably a similar length to a human sword, but much wider (just like in your sketch). The princess is monstrously (supernaturally) strong for a goblin, but still a fairly normal goblin height and build, so the sword would look particularly big in her hands.
The goblin scout in your goblin mega-pack has a distinctly female face and posture, despite being very obviously a goblin. If possible I'd like to capture a similar sort of quality, so she appears almost dainty, further emphasizing the massive sword.
And then just two days later, Rick sent me the finished illustration:


Chronicles of the Goblin Princess is still planned, but it was unavoidably delayed (I had to postpone it until I've published my Swift d12 system). I've already used the artwork in my Countdown Deck though!