More on Adventures

This time last month I was talking about 2 page adventures. My thinking was that a book on how to random adventures may be more useful to GMs needing an instant, low prep adventure than try to sell written adventures.

I have described adventure writing as a fool errand and a thankless task in the past.

Over the past month I have taken the tables in one of the adventure writing books and automated them.

The basic version spits out text intended to be read by someone about to use them to write an adventure. I have edited them to spit out text intended to be read by the GM at the table. This is a mammoth task. There are 19 tables, of a typical 10 entries each and in the original wording said things like this.

Number 1 on the Adventure Hooks table says:

Dying Delivery
On some occasion when the hero is out wandering the streets or is otherwise all alone, a dying man bumps into him, hands him something, says a few words, and dies. The deliverer can be dying of a curse, poison, a wound from a weapon, malnutrition caused by his long captivity, or from some bizarre and inexplicable cause. The dagger still protruding from
his back is the most common cause of death among dying deliverers. The object given to the hero can be a famous weapon or artifact which has long been missing and presumed destroyed, an object which could not possibly have found its way into this wretch’s hands (such as the king’s crown or the most holy talisman of the local church). or a sheaf of papers. If it’s a sheaf of papers, it can signify any number of things; it can be a certificate of birth, proving that some nobody is actually the heir to the kingdom (naturally, agents of the current “heir” will kill anyone who possesses it ); it can be proof that an upstanding citizen is really the head of !he city’s criminal syndicate (of course, said upstanding citizen is very anxious to get his hands on the papers, and on the heart of anyone who’s read them); it can be a duplicate sc roll describing a ritual of monstrous demon summoning whose elements are suspiciously reminiscent of events going on right now in the city. And the man’s dying words are the real hook. In general. they should tell the hero where to look next. If he names his killer, the hero will know to go take a look at the accused. If he describes where he was attacked, the hero will probably go there. If he tells the hero where to take this maguffin, then the hero will probably go there (even if he isn’t necessarily inclined to hand over the goods). If he says something inexplicable, like “Emerald eyes of the ram;’ before dying, then the hero will be baffled until later, when he hears of the golden statue of a ram with emerald eyes being commissioned by some famous personage.

You can see how that is all useful advice but what I am doing to breaking that down into yet more random options and then presenting one of them as the actual plot hook. A combination of separating out all the possibles and a change in emphasis in the way the plot hook is presented.

The intention was, past tense, to build this huge sophisticated tool that when you click a button presents a nearly complete adventure. You just needed to incorporate Setting, NPC and monster stats and the adventure would be good to go.

Taking the idea one step further it would be to have a goal of producing an adventure a day. If one had a tool, similar to JDales NPC generator that, for example took an option for level and biome and would select suitable monsters for you complete with stats or at least book references.

Copy and paste all these elements into a single document and all you would need is a couple of hours of proofreading and tweaking before the adventure was ready to publish. I was aiming for a sort of 1 a day production schedule.

When adventures are that ‘disposable’ it doesn’t really matter if they don’t make much money individually. They will sit on DriveThruRPG in perpetuity providing a trickle of income.

But my mind doesn’t often let ideas just lie there. It would have taken months of work to build the finished tool. Then you would still have the odd grammatical problem. I have build tools like this before and you always get an occasional mismatch when you are trying to build natural sounding sentences programmatically.

I want to add in another piece of information.

I released and adventure called something along the lines of The Jungle Collection. I am a bit vague about the name as I released two versions with slightly different names, one for RM and one for Zweihander. In total the adventure has earned me $96, $62 for the Zwei version and $34 for the RM version.

What I didn’t want to do is spend months creating a piece of software and then discover that the adventures it creates are crap. So I thought why not run it once. Look at the quality of the output and make one edit to it to improve the output. Then take what I have and write it up as an adventure, put it on sale and then rinse and repeat.

So I did that. I ran the programme, took the output and it took me 5 days to turn it into a viable adventure. I then put it on sale. The way I had set the book up was with all the adventure stuff at the beginning and then an NPC Rosta and monster stats in the last three pages.

So I thought why not just create some new NPCs and get some different monster stats and target a different system? This is what I had done with the Jungle Collection.

So I made the setting a spaceship and released it for Traveller, Stars Without Number, OpenD6 Space and White Star. Then changing the ship from a spaceship to a merchant ship I released it for Zweihander and this week I will make a Rolemaster version, an OSR D&D version and probably a handful of other fantasy systems.

The goal being to have released possibly 10 versions within the 2 weeks since running the script. So far I have made a little over $26. The Jungle adventures made $96 since mid-March so about 6 months or so.

So why so many versions?

My logic goes like this. Rolemaster is pretty niche, but has a loyal following. You cannot make a rolemaster adventure pay for itself as there are just not enough players and GMs who buy adventures.

Zwei on the other hand has sold in the hundreds of thousands of copies in the past 2 years. How many of those get played is a different question but the game is current and has a following. Traveller has a long history and strong following, it is nearly as old as D&D, and talking of which D&D has a pretty big following. Ultimately for a ‘drop in’ adventure that has no hard setting the bigger the audience the more you are going to sell.

There are diminishing returns when it comes to audience size. I could make the adventure suitably unique and sell it on DMs Guild but there are tens of new releases every day and the chances of yours getting noticed is slim to non-existent. The 0D&D/OSR community is smaller than the 5e community but still massive by Rolemaster standard. The rate of releases is somewhat less and the chances of getting some attention are somewhat higher.

All of these variations will then give a massive total audience size and make the project financially worth while, or so I hope.

I idea of nirvana for this is to have a piece of software that will turn out a print quality adventure in an hour. Whether that will ever happen I cannot say.

What you will see is a new Rolemaster adventure released this week called Plague, Famine & War I. That will be the first product of this plan.

I will let you know how I get on.

Progress Report!

I have had so much feedback for Navigator RPG that it is taking a while to get a new version of the playtest done. When the PDF gets updated this week it will be the third version. The document has already grown by 3 or 4 pages which is cool. It gets prettier by the day as well.

The playtest is two weeks old and as of this morning there had been 224 downloads and the PWYW donations have totalled $39.17 of which I get $27.42. That is from 13 paid purchases.

So far I am extremely happy with the results. By the end of the week I will be uploading an even better version of the game. I cannot remember if you have seen this version of the cover?

This weeks release also has the starting adventure to help get people going. The previous versions had playtesters using the original White Star beginning adventure.

#NavRPG – one week in

I promise to write about something else next time, in fact I have something in the pipeline that could be exciting.

So Navigator is one week old. This morning I uploaded an updated PDF with the amendments suggested so far.

To give you a few numbers, the playtest doc has been downloaded 191 times and I have had 10 people make a contribution. So far they have contributed $31.66 which gives me $22.16.

For context, RMu playtest was downloaded under 150 times. To order print proofs as premium softcover and premium hardcover will cost $17 plus delivery.

Download numbers do turn people into playtesters. We know this from RMu, there we have a long established and loyal following and yet we only ever see less than half a dozen voices, if you strip out JDale. JDale does an amazing job of fielding all the questions. Although I think I detected a hint of frustration this morning in the size rules discussion. I can easily see why, we had the same discussion a few years ago and now they are trying to finalise the books for editing it comes up again.

From a feedback point of view I have received feedback from four people, including Terefang who has been most helpful and constructive.

Four is not a big enough cohort so I still have work to do. There is an interesting balancing act here. The game is basically a layering on of RM style attack and critical tables, HARP style magic and a few extras like action points for the combat round but on to an existing game. The underlying game has been playtested to destruction by being very close to the original D&D and even in its Sci Fi incarnation it has had extensive testing and has had thousands of groups playing it since its release.

The question is, have a fundamentally broken anything? That remains to be seen.

One piece of feedback I got from a Reddit user was this.

I followed your link and saw “Star Master” and “tables.” I did RoleMaster back in the day. These days I much prefer low crunch. That isn’t much in the way of feedback, but this might be.
I didn’t receive much feedback on a recent request. I read this article, which made me think I should answer its questions when I ask for feedback. If you do, maybe you will have more nibbles on your feedback hook.
Good luck!
SS

ShakeSharp – Reddit

I have read up and answered the questions and it was indeed helpful. The interesting thing was the opening sentence. For me this isn’t an issue. I am not expecting to sell thousands of copies. I haven’t invested tens of thousands of dollars in buying the old ICE stock and intellectual property and I haven’t spent eight years or more writing my version. As this is a fun project there are no labour costs, and I don’t think anyone at ICE has been paid either, except artists. My $22.16 just about covers an expense I am expecting to spend in a few months time. The whole project is self funding.

For ICE, the problem of a “Done Rolemaster in the past, don’t want to even bother reading the book.” attitude could be a bigger problem to overcome.

This first week was almost exclusively Twitter marketing. This next week I am going to branch out a bit, but this is where my lack of resources will show. Having said that, my Wild West game got an average of 8 downloads a week, given a big spike at the front and a long tailing off. So 190 in week one is a really good start.

Breaking News…

Part way through writing this post, I have just had an email with a document full of feedback (Thanks Alex). I haven’t read it yet but this is exactly what I have been hoping for.

I have also always wanted to be able to use “Breaking News” as a title.

I will give the feedback a good reading through today. This also proves that the playtest is real and happening!

#NavRPG 24hrs in

I am not going to post every day about this, but the first few days are the most interesting.

On day one the booklet was on the front page of DTRPG on the newest releases and on the latest free/PWYW lists. This brought in ‘free’ traffic as I didn’t have to anything.

By the time I woke up this morning the book was the 28th newest release, meaning you had to scroll sideways twice to find it. By 4pm it was 33rd, so four ‘pages’ deep and 17th on the latest free/PWYW titles. Incidentally that suggests that half of all the new releases are free or PWYW.

I have limited resources to bring to bear from a marketing point of view. I have decided that I will apply them sequentially rather than all at once. If I was bigger I would throw everything out at once and hope that I would achieve that idealistic ‘viral’ event where your audience do your marketing for you. I am not there, my audience is too small.

So on day one I announced the product on Discord. I had joined all the relevant discord servers I could find about a month ago. I didn’t want join, shout out about my game and then go silent again. That looks too spammy. What I did was join the servers, joined in any conversations I could make a contribution to and if I could I mentioned I was working on a game. Then yesterday it was entirely natural to mention the release of the game.

I also did a few tweets using my developer twitter account. That only has 188 followers. Not a lot of clout there. I really wished I had started building my twitter following months of even years ago.

By 7am GMT the game had had 87 downloads of which 3 were paid.

This morning I have been working twitter. I had some successes and a couple of disappointments.

I had tried to engage with the official DriveThruRPG twitter account. They have 21,500 followers. As the playtest was free I was hoping they would give me a shoutout.

No response at all.

I have done blogging for High Level Games. They have about 3,000 followers. I tried to engage with them and again nothing.

On the other hand I reached out to The Kind GM, 8,700 followers, and he could not have been more helpful.

I also spoke to Gavin Thorpe, a sci fi writer, game designer (Games Workshop) and world builder with 11,000 followers and again, he was more than willing to help a fellow creator.

So where are we now?

As I said, for me it is 4pm.

I have had 104 downloads and 6 paid sales. I have created a Discord channel for the game and that has gained 1 new user (that sounds pathetic but from little acorns!). The income so far will more more than pay for the soft cover standard colour interior book. It will also start to pay towards the Hardcover premium colour one.

I am busy for the rest of the day so I am not expecting anything great to happen. In the morning I will continue to reach out to twitter followers I have established contacts with.

Just for reference remember RMu = 145 downloads in several years. NavRPG 104 in about 30hrs.

(These are for Terefang, do you like the gutter are margins?)

Navigator RPG Playtest Live

Today is a big day in the life of Navigator RPG, although it will barely cause a ripple in anyone elses lives.

There is a live playtest version of Navigator RPG up on DriveThruRPG.com.

It went live shortly after midnight, this morning.

There are two points to this post. The first is of course to tell you all that the game has reached this point. I have been teasing about the game for a while but have intentionally not posted any details.

The second point is that I am going to keep something of a development diary for the game on here. I am not being intentionally bitchy but I am going to couch it in terms of comparing Navigator RPG to RMu.

The posts could help anyone else thinking of publishing their own game.

I know I have told this joke before but I think of it every time I am tempted to criticise anyone else’s work.

There is a guy driving, lost, along some back roads. Up ahead he sees a farmer on a tractor parked in a gateway eating a sandwich. The driver stops and asks “What is the best way to get to Birmingham?”, after a moment’s consideration the farmer replies “The best way, you say? Well, I wouldn’t start from here.”

That is the point, we don’t know where anyone else started from, we don’t know what their needs are, how much they have invested into a project or their goals.

I see this as a four stage project, behind closed doors, this is the part I have finished and the time spent on RMu before Beta 1.

The second stage is the public playtest. This is where RMu and Navigator are right now, both in stage 2.

Stage 3 is putting the full game on sale. At that point I expect RMu to massively out perform my little Navigator RPG. Fantasy is a bigger genre, in fact the biggest, RMu and Rolemaster has an existing fan base, ICE is a recognised brand and ICE has a massive marketing budget.

ICE’s marketing budget is not in cash, although it may have a cash war chest as well, but in PPP. The total value of RM books and software sold each year is roughly $10,000. I know this because every company in the UK has to post their accounts online. The company doesn’t have massive expenses as no one is drawing a living wage and that sort of thing. Publishers receive 70% of the ticket price from a book sale on DTRPG. So from the declared earnings, you can multiply up to find the total revenue and then multiply up to take into account the £:$ exchange rate.

Publishers receive Publisher Promotion Points from OneBookShelf at a rate of 20+(revenue/10) each month. So $10,000 gives 1,000 PPP plus 12 months gives 1,240/year. I have not seen any evidence of these being spent so it looks like ICE have a stockpile of nearly 20,000 PPP.

To give you an idea of what they can be spent on, to be Deal of the Day costs about 400-500PPP, home page featured product costs about 70-80PPP and that will put an advert for your product on the home page of DTRPG which will be shown 2,500 times. To put a featured product advert at the top of a game section costs 30-40PPP for the same 2,500 impressions. The traffic to specific sections is lower so your impressions last longer and can be more specifically targeted.

The most cost effective spend is the Deal of the Day. ICE have the resources to be DotD once a week for 40 weeks and then of course that will generate sales which will earn more PPP and keep the wheels on the promotional wagon. If a full set of RMu books costs $100 they would only need to sell 50 a month to earn sufficient PPP to afford another DotD.

One can achieve a virtuous circle where your DotD spend puts you at the top of the Best Sellers list and then there are the metal best sellers lists. The more times you cover is shown on the best selling lists the more sales you are going to generate.

The nub is that RMu can buy its success and its way to the top. Its success is guaranteed.

I don’t have that luxury.

Starting Today

Starting today we are both in Stage 2, playtest. I am at the beginning and RMu is at the end.

RMu has to go through editing, layout and art commissioning. Nav doesn’t. Because I am doing everything in the open the editing, can be done by the community. Layout, well that isn’t going to fundamentally change from the public playtest. Every time a change is suggested and implemented the playtest document is going to be updated. So the layout and text will change many times over the playtest but everyone will always have access to the current state of the game. This is a difference between RMu and NavRPG.

At the end of the playtest everyone who downloaded the playtest will get the full game as a PDF. Even if they didn’t contribute. Even when the game goes on sale the PDF version will be free. It is the printed books I will charge for. I think GMs actually like to have physical books at the table.

I also don’t write games to then act as gatekeeper. The more people who play the game the better, even if they are using the free PDF.

The playtest game is listed on DTRPG as a PWYW title. This is what Kevin was complaining about this week. His adventure had 100 downloads and almost no one paid anything for it. He also got some middling star ratings.

That is the nature of the beast for PWYW. I am under no illusion that people are going to rush out and throw money at the game. The reason I have made it PWYW and not free is so that even £0.05 purchases will accumulate. When it comes to creating the print on demand books, these are going to cost me somewhere up to $200. I am perfectly happy to swallow that as I it is my business plan to make money on the physical books. On the other hand every single cent donated to the playtest will soften that upfront hit.

In Theory

All of this is all ‘in theory’ only.

So far in the few hours since the game went live it has had 7 downloads. RMu had 145 downloads of the playtest documents. America has not woken up yet, at least not enough of it to think of downloading free games.

This is the first marketing objective. Get the playtest version downloaded and into the hands of gamers.

Stage 4

I have talked about stage 1, writing; stage 2 playtest and stage three release and marketing.

Stage 4 is the long term success of the game. I don’t think that RMu has much of a future, although I hope I am wrong. Most games get bought, played and then languish on shelves never to be played again.

One way of measuring the popularity of a game is in its community support. Only some of a games fans will ever write and publish something either under a fan license, a Community Content Programme, a Compatibility License or just create compatible products that don’t need any form of license.

ICE has shown itself to be resistant to open standards and community content. NavRPG on the other hand is at the other far extreme. It is a simple core designed to be extended by the players and GMs. It is released under the OGL, Open Gaming License, which gives anyone the right to modify, remix and republish the work. No barriers.

My negative forecast is based upon the idea that RMu has not addressed the most pressing negative opinions of the gaming community. The whole chartmaster, rulesmaster thing. They are already talking about dumping most of the stuff actively being discussed on the forum into the first companion.

This is, in my opinion, repeating the sins of the past.

Rolemaster was, I beleive, the 4th most popular game in the industry in the early 80s. Now it is a vestigial hangover played by maybe less than 1,000 people worldwide? The forums certainly have a very small population. Looking at all the places where communities gather the RM based ones are tiny and largely inactive.

I think there will be a flurry of activity, a mass of sales, and commercial success followed by a trailing off of interest and in two, three years we will be back to the same hard core of forum users that we have now but with a few few names in the mix.

The difference will be that we will now be discussing RM2, RMC, RMSS, RMFRP and RM. RM2 did not go away when RMC came along and RMFRP and RMSS is no different. I can see a lot of RM fans not moving to the new game simply because they love their old game. They have all the books they want, all the house rules to make it play the way they want and they know what they are doing.

The the die hards the new version will be missing 90% of what they want and need because all those companions just won’t work quite right.

That is a bit gloomy I know. I will definitely buy into RMu but my group of friends are definitely RM2 despite the fact that we are playing the core of RMC. They have imported all the RM2 stuff they miss into the game.

Navigator’s Future

I think the total sales figures will take a long time to get in the same realm as RMu. No marketing budget doesn’t help. On the other hand I think the open attitude will help build an active community. That is where I am putting my efforts. Right from today onwards, actually I started about 8 weeks ago, everything is about building a community around NavRPG. Making people feel included, and welcome.

Well that is today’s update.

Update Time

Yesterday City of Spiders, one of the first 50in50 adventures became a Silver best selling title on Drivethrurpg.com. That is no mean feat. We still get sales of those adventure hooks most weeks. It won’t be long until we get a raft of them going silver.

I am going all out to complete outstanding projects before the end of the year. Ladt week I was working on my Wild West game. That is now ready to go to kickstarter. That is new territory for me. I gave had to pause that for a few days as jump through the legal hoops.

As I cannot go any further with DS:WW right now my attention has turned to Navigator RPG.

Navigator RPG

Since Friday I have completed the Star Knight meditations and Mystic Gifts. These replace the Telempath’s psions in Spacemaster. I have also converted all the equipment over from White Star to Nav and started building the Nav version of Arms Law. Ladt night I finished the last of the melee weapons tables. Tomorrow I start the ranged weapons which include bows, guns and energy weapons.

When I am working on projects like this they often seem really simple before I start. They then go through a phase where for everything one part I complete I notice two more sections that I need to do.

I am in that phase now but I don’t think it will be long until I am crossing things off faster than I am adding them.

As of today you can create a character using any race, culture, profession learn and use psionics and beat each other up using hand to hand combat and ranged attacks, even grenades and make maneuvers.

No one will die because there are no critical tables.

There are no spaceship rules, no monster/aliens/robots. The only healing is through gifts and meditations. There is no natural healing yet.

There is no universe either.

I am sure there is a lot more that I haven’t thought of but the current list is not overwhelming.

I am mentioning all this as I think I am only a week or so away from sharing what I have so far.

I do need some help though. See right at the bottom of this post if you are feeling creative.

City of Forgotten Heroes

I started to detail the city last month in the fanzine. The first month I did the marshes around the city, the city walls and the gate house on the causeway. This month was the library, complete with ghost book, the orchard and a new location called the architect’s tower.

In the October issue will be the palace, the cistern and Octomancer.

I think I will have completed the entire RMu adventure path before the end of the year. I estimate the entire thing will take characters from creation to 12th/14th level.

I mention this because I am aware that sometimes I can seem really enthusiastic about something and then it disappears from view. I don’t just drop things, it is just that actually doing the hard bit of writing it all up isn’t very exciting and having a monthly publishing schedule means that nothing moves quickly.

Amusingly, I don’t know what the end of the adventure path is. I am not entirely sure how to get from the past bit I have written and the point where the characters save their world and defeat the BBEG.

I am sure it will come to me. I have 7 weeks to think of it and get the characters from where they are to where they need to be in time from the final climax in December.

I wonder if I will complete the adventure path before RMu is released? It is supposed to be in Nicholas’s editing queue now. How long will that take and the same goes for art commissioning and layout.

On September 22nd there are 100 days of 2019 left and we were promised RMu in 2019.

Help

What I could do with is a bit of help coming up with witty and graphic critical descriptions.

At the moment I have need of the following critical tables. Puncture, Slash, Krush, Fire, Unbalance and Impact. I would really appreciate some suggestions for the criticals. There are 120 entries on a critical table and I have six to do giving 720 lines to come up with.

All help will be greatly appreciated. Just comment below.

Stepping Forward

I am going to get to the big step forward later but I am going to tell you a story first.

My step son is an artist. He qualified with a degree in Fine Art last year and to the best of my knowledge he is the only one of his contemporaries that is actually keeping body and soul together working in art. He works most of the week as a freelance artist’s technician and the rest working on his own art in a rented studio space. As you expect as a artist, living in London, he has no money.

At the hospital I was in in Aberdeen a local philanthropist had built a 1000 space multi-storey car park for the hospital. The hospital has 1000 beds so he had one parking space for visiting every patient. The parking is also free. His inspiration for the car park was when he wanted to visit a friend in hospital and could find nowhere to park.

When we were talking about this my step son commented that this was the flaw in philanthropy, it is all on the whim on the philanthropist and what else could that money have been spent on.

I counter argued that this was the strength of philanthropy. If more than one person had been involved in the decision process they probably would have argued that improving the public transport links would have alleviated the pressure on local parking and been more environmentally friendly.

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is actually the main hospital for a massive swathe of rural Scotland and while the arguement for public transport is true, no public transport system can reach every tiny hamlet or cluster of houses and with the frequency to make visits to see patients viable.

I can see the point that if you don’t own a car, that better or free public transport would be attractive. I think that as soon as you get to the committee stage probably nothing would have ever happened at all for years.

The point of this story is that I have noticed that I am applying the same principle to Navigator RPG. By keeping it all to myself I can forge ahead without the possible delays in discussion. This is really selfish but when I do ask for help it is when I really don’t know what is the best solution.

The title of this post was Stepping Forward. So the big step forward last night was that I have working rules for stats, species (race), talents, cultures, skill costs and I have one fully working profession. It is now possible to go end to end and create a viable player character.

This weekend I will work on filling in more of the blanks, creating more cultures and completing more of the professions. Neither task is particularly exciting so I will mix that in with writing more of the core rules.

What I am building here is the RPG equivalent of one of these…

Everyone’s vision of a lego house, city or star port will be different but with one of these the only limit is imagination, and we are good at that.

Navigator RPG and Psionics

I am nowhere near writing the chapter on psionics yet but they are implications to the skill system. Skills are definitely part of Character Generation and that is where I am.

White Star has about 40 ‘meditations’ which are direct one to one equivalents of OSR/OGL D&D spells. You have your Charm Person, Locate Object and so on.

Spacemaster has our familiar lists. I personally found the lists in Spacemaster to be rather bland, uninspiring and limited.

HARP SF has what it calls Fields which group similar psionic abilities together. Each has six to ten fully scalable abilities exactly like HARP Fantasy’s scalable spells.

So a HARP SF field is equivalent to a Spacemaster list but the psionic abilities are learned more like talents with an increasing DP cost as you go up the tiers.

Most Rolemaster folk who also know something about HARP have some admiration of the scalable spell system. You lose the Light I, Light II,… Light True progression that we see in most lists but you gain the ability to scale a basic Light spell in whatever way you need depending on your ability and the amount of power points you want to put into the spell.

The most Spacemaster thing to do is to copy the lists, change the names and some parameters to they are no longer the ICE spell lists, which I know ICE are very protective of. That gives maximum Spacemaster compatibility.

I could turn White Star’s meditations into Spacemaster style lists but that is more difficult as there are too few meditations to populate the lists.

As White Star has so much OGL D&D behind it I could go down the road of doing a direct one to one conversion of White Star meditations to HARP style scalable spells.

This would mean that psionics/spells would be learned by developing them as skills and we would need a power point development skill.

So that is the impact of psionics on skills.

Spacemaster broke the ‘anyone can do anything if you are prepared to spend the DP on it’ philosophy when it came to psions. I think they were right. You were either born psionic or you weren’t. It was not something that you decided to develop when you got to high level as the diminishing returns made buying your core skills pointless.

HARP has psionic potential as a talent that can be bought at creation but can also be bought with GM approval later on. Maybe you get some experimental brain surgery that enables your latent potential. I like that and I can go back and add the Psionic Potential talent to the available talents.

I am not entirely convinced this is actually a big deal. Spacemaster telepaths could do the stuff you expected telepaths to do. White Star mystics and Star Knights have exactly the same psychic abilities as to HARP characters.

It is more a question of presentation, they are all trying to model the same thing.

Does anyone have any strong opinions on this one way or another? I am leaning towards one to one conversion of the White Star discrete mediations using HARP style scalable spells but that is the least Spacemaster-ish solution.

Modern Adventure Role Playing (MARP)

I am back home and wading through my emails. In amongst all the work stuff was an email about MARP. Craig, the author is having trouble posting to the blog, his comments seem to disappear into the bit bucket, so he could not post this himself.

I have copied it below in so you take a look.

This may be of interest to you:

In the ICE forum vaults, there’s a PDF by Aki Heikkinen called MARP – Modern Adventure Role Playing.

I don’t know why it’s called that because it’s far more Sci-Fi than Modern – it’s actually a conversion of Spacemaster: Privateers to HARP.

http://www.ironcrown.com/ICEforums/index.php?action=tpmod;dl=item380

By Aki Heikkinen.

This is 59-page, 3MB PDF is the updated 2.5 version of Modern Adventure Role Playing (MARP) using Spacemaster Privateers setting. This PDF contains ten chapters and character sheet:

Professions: Eleven professions including 5 completely new professions: Academic, merchant, pilot, psychic and technician.

Race and Origins: Privateer universe’s races and cultures. Requires Privateers: Race and Culture book

Skills: Skill list and description of new skills. Three new categories: Science, Technical and Vehicle.

Talents and Starting Options: List of possible talents and starting options including dozens of new talents and starting options.

Cybernetics: Cybernetic rules and list of cybernetics. Requires Robotic Manual book.

Robotics: Android creation rules. Requires Robotic Manual book.

Psychic Power: Psychic rules. Requires Spacemaster Privateers core rulebook.

Combat Rules: Rules for dealing ranged attacks, new piercing and armor value rules and over dozen new combat actions. New critical tables are not included in this supplement but it is designed to be used with Spacemaster critical tables and means that all necessary books including critical tables are reguired.

Construction Rules: Quick overview of construction rules. Requires Vehicle Manual book.

Training Packages: List and description of possible training packages for privateers setting.

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craig

There are two things that stand out about this, apart from Craig’s technical problems. The first is that ICE seem perfectly happy to let a 3rd party reproduce content from the Spacemaster and Privateers setting and they must have approved the download. The second is that you would have thought that ICE would try to protect HARP SF rather than have people basically get it for free by utilising old books from a now unsupported game.

It is possible the download got through because it obviously states that all the official ICE books are required.

Navigator Update

I have cleared the decks a little and last night I started to look at Navigator RPG again.

The first thing that would strike you is the limited scope of the game. So far we have three races and five professions, that is it.

My justification for this is twofold. Firstly, I am trying to follow the source material, White Star as closely as possible and that is the full set of player character classes in the book, plus one. I have added in an extra profession, the Mystic. Mystics are what Spacemaster fans would recognise as true and semi-telepaths. I thought they were an important part of Spacemaster and needed to be included.

We have stats. These are d100 rolls, re-roll anything under 21 and if you have no stats over 90 then your two lowest can be elevated to 90.

Potentials are all 101 and stat gain rolls will cost DPs.

DPs are fixed at 50 per level.

Stat bonuses are (Stat-50)/3 so no table needed for stat bonuses.

Character races or Species are built using talents. I have included six talents and one flaw. These serve as a model for 3rd party writers to create a whole spectrum of optional talents and Species.

Mixed Species are easily possible by mixing and matching the talents that define the parents.

We now have seven cultures. Each culture gives 50DPs worth of skills.

We have simple guidelines for creating new cultures.

As I said above we have five professions but we also have the rules for creating new professions. Each profession comes with 50DPs of ‘basic training’ in the professions core skills. We also get Professional skill bonuses. Every profession has individual skill costs.

Things I have borrowed is the idea of Expertise skills that reduce penalties but do not give bonuses. This has allowed me to remove the four individual moving in armour skills.

I have borrowed the fixed 50DPs and I have borrowed the method of creating ‘half races’. In effect the three races I have created could be turned into six different species.

The calculated stat bonuses comes from Hurin.

All skills are going to have three governing stats and the stat bonuses are going to be additive rather than averaged. I just find that easier.

After being given 50DPs of skills from your culture, 50DPs of skills from your basic training you will then have an additional 50DPs to spend as you wish to customise your character. This means that a starting character will be level 1 and have 150DPs of skills in place.

Limited Scope

I said there were two reasons for the limited scope. This whole project is dependent on building a community who will add to the game. The tools for creating new Species, Talents, Flaws, Cultures, Professions and Skills are right there in the core rules and just enough examples are provided to give people what they need to build what they want. A spin off benefit of limited scope is time to completion.

In project management you can decide what you want a project to achieve or when you want to complete a project but you cannot define both. You either ship what you have on completion day your you ship the completed project when it is finished. By limiting the scope of the project the time to completion is going to be much shorter. As it is I am hoping to have the game up to the point where you can create a character by the end of this week.

The most time consuming things I have to deal with this week will be calculating all the skills costs for my five professions and all the skills and then writing all the skill descriptions.

Next…

After that the next set of rules in White Star than need converting are Movement, Skill Resolution and Resistance Rolls. I am hoping that they will be able to be completed in a week although I have a busy couple of weeks coming up.

Plan A

When I have tried an ‘ideas gathering’ set of posts in the past what has happened is that because there is no real structure in place there are almost too many options. Once discussions become circular we stop making progress.

Another problem is the transient nature of blogging. Ideas soon drift down the list of articles and away into oblivion.

So to Plan A

I am going to hammer my way through a conversion of White Star to create something that is extremely basic but both reminiscent of Spacemaster and actually playable. This will be the Navigator RPG.

Navigator RPG will be a Pay What You Want game on DriveThruRPG so you can pick it up for free or make a voluntary contribution. It is also a Creative Commons Share Alike product so no company can ever own the intellectual property and restrict its use.

The rules will be extremely modular with the intention of swapping out core rules for optional rules. In fact this swapping out of rules will be essential.

Yesterday, in my free time I wrote the Introduction, The start of the character generation chapter, rolling stats section, stat bonuses and I have just started the Species chapter. I have a pretty heavy schedule for the next 10 days or so but by early May I hope to have Species, Professions and Skills completed.

This may all sound rather egocentric. It is just me, my ideas, my opinions and my game. Why would anyone what to play my idea of a overly simplified Spacemaster?

Because it is easier to criticise something that is already there. I don’t really have to create anything new in doing a conversion from an existing game to a game with Rolemaster principles. We all know the ‘Rolemaster way’ so where there is a mechanic that could be more rolemaster then it is easy to apply that.

In addition, the design philosophy is that every single section of the rules will be replaced. I am providing just three or four races or species. Anyone can create new species, replace the provided species or anything in between. We know races are going to be primarily a collection of stat modifiers and resistance roll modifiers. You could start creating a bunch of new races now because you know what the options are going to be.

Art

There a few other things I have been working on. When I release Navigator RPG, on the same day, I am going to release three other downloads. The first will be a compatibility license.

This isn’t particularly exciting but what it does do is send a signal to the indie RPG developers that Navigator RPG is open for business.

The second is an Art Kit. A selection of art, backgrounds, spaceships, weapons, figures and so on. This is to make it as easy as possible for an independent developer to produce great looking supplements. The Art Kit exists already but it only contains three pieces of art. By the time of its release it should be a few hundred pieces strong.

The final download will be a document template for at least Word and inDesign. This is so that anyone can create a supplement and it will look and feel exactly like an official release.

That may not sound every exciting but the three, the license, art kit and document template are the three requirements to create a Community Content Programme [CCP]. You will have heard a great deal about CCPs on the ICE forums. This game will have all the required criteria to have a CCP.

Here is a curious thing…

This game will be OSR, Old School Revival. When it is listed it will be found on DrivethrRPG under HARP/Spacemaster and OSR/Old School Revival. So? There is only one other OSR community content programme and that is Zweihander. What this means is that most places where the Zwei CCP shows, Navigator RPG will show too. You have to like a bit of standing on the shoulder of giants.