Thursday, 30 July 2020

One-Page RPG Design: The Fools Who Follow

The One-Page RPG Jam 2020 was announced last week and started on the 27th of July. I decided to take part, as I like trying out different things and expanding my skill set, and I really needed a short break from my other projects anyway. I submitted my game last night, and you can grab it free from here:



The Chosen One is a classic trope, but it doesn't work very well for most tabletop roleplaying games, as you don't usually want one player hogging the limelight. I've seen some fun ideas for subverting it, though, such as the Chosen One unexpectedly dying and the PCs having to pick up the slack (the very NSFW Oglaf webcomic also did something similar, with the Chosen One being killed by a shopkeeper for "stealing" the weapon he was prophesied to wield).

I originally considered doing something similar, with the Chosen One being killed (perhaps even at the hand of the PCs) prior to the adventure, but I eventually decided it would be more interesting if I turned the Chosen One into a liability, an ongoing problem the players would have to deal with as part of the story. That also meant I could revisit the shenanigans rules I first used in Saga of the Goblin Horde, and see how well they could be adapted to other settings!


A single page doesn't give you much space to work with, but I had a look at a few other one-page RPGs for inspiration, and eventually settled on four sections: Scenario overview, characters, game rules, and running adventures. Back when I worked on The Goblin Warrens, I combined a 200-word RPG with a 200-word adventure, and that was the benchmark I decided to use here. Likewise, creating a scenario overview was pretty similar to the various adventure seeds I wrote for Saga of the Goblin Horde and Blood & Bile.


I decided to base the system on Tricube Tales because I already knew it worked, plus it provided me with a cross-promotional opportunity. I had to streamline the rules significantly, and even dropped traits -- but I chose to keep karma, as I consider it an essential part of the system (it gives players a degree of control over the outcome of their rolls, rather than leaving everything to chance).


I've been meaning to try my hand at a landscape PDF for a while, and this seemed the perfect opportunity. Four columns would have been too squashed up, however, so I placed the scenario overview at the top of the page and split the rest into three columns. I also had a look at the layout of other one-page RPGs -- in particular, I drew inspiration from the way Lasers & Feelings designed its tables (although I kept the dice icons I'd used for tables in my earlier products).


For the initial trade dress, I picked a page background I liked from Lord Zsezse Works and found a suitable jester illustration from Fat Goblin Games. I adjusted the colors of the jester slightly to better match the purple corners of the page background, then realized the illustration's three main colors (purple, green and orange) followed a triadic color scheme on the color wheel, so I decided to use it for the text and tables as well.


It took me a couple of days to transform The Fool Who Follows from a rough idea into a polished product, and I'm pleased with the way it turned out. One-page RPGs are fun to design, I can see them being a great way to try out different ideas (much like I've suggested using One Sheets to try out ideas for Savage Worlds settings). It also allowed me to experiment with different styles of layout and trade dress.

I've been meaning to establish a presence on for a while, so it's nice to finally have something on there, even if it's just a tiny one-page game. Will I create some more? I've not decided yet. Would you like me to? Let me know!

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Starships & Salvage: Running Gold & Glory in Space

One of my favorite Savage Worlds settings is Gold & Glory: Seven Deadly Dungeons, where the heroes explore various randomly-generated dungeons looking for treasure -- and one of my favorite board games is Space Hulk, where space marines fight their way through abandoned space vessels. So ever since Gold & Glory was released, I've been pondering using its rules for a sci-fi game, where a rag-tag crew of explorers hunts for salvage among the stars (or perhaps the PCs are a company of mercenaries, or a unit of drop troops, sent on various military missions).

Wild Draw Character Creation

Gold & Glory has some nifty card-based character creation rules. However, for a sci-fi setting (assuming the PCs are not all human) I'd recommend using the species from the Science Fiction Companion instead of the standard fantasy races, and I'd propose handling them with an additional card draw:

2: Aquarian
3: Aurax
4: Avion
5: Construct
6: Deader
7: Floran
8: Human
9: Insectoid
10: Kalian
Jack: Rakashan
Queen: Saurian
King: Serran
Ace: Yeti
Joker: Choose freely

Similarly, the classes would need to be changed to something more suitable for a sci-fi theme, perhaps including options such as "soldier," "mechanic," "pilot," "psychic," "scientist," "scout," etc.


I'd suggest renaming the currency to something like "galactic credits", and giving characters access to gear from the core rules and Science Fiction Companion. You might also want to pick up a copy of Savage Space (it's free), particularly for the vehicle rules, as the PCs will need a spaceship for their adventures!


The dungeons can be designed in much the same way as Gold & Glory, and there are countless movies and TV shows you can use for inspiration. Here are some adventure seeds (along with their sources of inspiration) to get you started:

Distress Signal: The heroes investigate a distress signal coming from an alien vessel that's crash-landed on a nearby moon. While this plot hook is an obvious nod to Alien, the story could unfold in any number of ways.

Missing Colony: A colony base has gone silent, and the PCs are hired to investigate. Although this seed is inspired by Aliens, the adventure could go in any number of directions -- perhaps the colony's droids turned on them, or maybe the colony was driven insane (like the reavers in Firefly/Serenity).

Breakout: The PCs are hired to break into an automated prison ship and rescue one of the prisoners. Inspired by an episode of the Mandalorian, this adventure could introduce various unexpected twists and challenges related to the ship, the identity of the prisoner, and so on.

Ghost Ship: Inspired by Event Horizon, a starship with a prototype FTL drive vanished on its maiden trip many years ago, and was never seen again -- until a few days ago, when it reappeared, drifting aimlessly through space. The PCs are fortunate enough to be nearby, giving them an opportunity to explore (and loot) the ship before any other vessels come into range.

Alien Outpost: Inspired by the Doctor Who episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit", the PCs discover a planet orbiting a black hole, with an abandoned base of ancient alien design located on the surface. Who knows what sort of advanced technology might be found within?


Gold & Glory is as much toolkit as it is setting, and the core concept should work just as well for other genres. A horror setting where the PCs investigate dark crypts and haunted houses? A cyberpunk setting where the PCs break into automated factories and military facilities in search of hi-tech loot? A mafia setting where the PCs need to break someone out of a prison, or steal evidence from a police station?

Not every adventure needs to be a dungeon crawl, but sometimes a dungeon crawl is exactly what you need, and the semi-randomization tools provided in Gold & Glory are a great way of handling it.