Archive for October, 2012

30 Oct


Free RPG: Malice

26 Oct

To celebrate Halloween, and to throw some more soft-opening grist into the Dead Salesman website (technically up, link coming soon), I designed and documented a quickie horror RPG. This is a game you can learn in one minute and run in almost any kind of setting. It’s made to solve a problem I face a lot in horror games, which is that there are few systems that evocatively simulate running from something. I don’t mean that Malice is about literally fleeing, although it is; I mean it’s a game where you’re almost always less powerful than your opponents, and fate is never on your side.

I’ve got more to say about it, and I will, but right now it’s already far too late. I’ll just throw this up here so you can get an advance look at it. Again: this one’s free. It’ll eventually have a cover and some decent formatting, but I figured I’d make sure you all had this before the 31st. Enjoy.

Malice: The RPG


Stream, Questions, Link, Fanart

19 Oct

I’ve had a lot of work to do getting ready for launch, and it’s almost–but not quite–finished. As a rule, I tend to keep radio silence until there’s something new to report. This is why someone checking in here lately might have concluded I was eaten by dingoes, or I was brokering a deal to sell the site to pharmaceutical manufacturers, or I bought a copy XCOM, or something else that’d prevent me from typing words in a browser. Well, none of those are true, and now I’ve got some stuff to prove it.

Firstly, a couple announcements: from now on, I’ll try to stream around 3:00 PM PST on Mondays. This policy will skip next Monday for sure; I’ll announce the first stream, and its content, on the site a few days before it does happen.

Secondly, Dead Salesman will be up and running by the 25th, and as part of the grand opening, I was going to kick off a series of Q&A posts about RPGs. I’ll be taking questions on two categories. Firstly, I’ll answer questions about how to get into the game (how to find groups, pick a game, GM, etc). This is primarily directed towards new-and-curious players. Secondly, I’ll have a column giving advice to players and particularly GMs about how to handle certain types of/specific situations. If you’ve got a question of either variety, do me a favor and throw it at me from the comments, and I’ll see it gets answered.

Thirdly, a personal friend of mine started a pixel-art webcomic based on a Dungeons and Dragons game he started and I co-DMed. If you check it out, be sure to let him know in the comments that the ghost of Nicolas Cage appeared to you in a dream and gave you the web address. That oughta rattle him.

Fourthly, I got a swanky piece of Cahmel fanart from fan Jacob Evans. Light your peepers on this:

Click for full size.

Also, I recorded some shiz with Jibar, but he hasn’t edited it yet (and may, in fact, be waiting for the site to go up first). Until he can convince me to buy XCOM and shoot at him with assault rifles, it’s just more Saints Row luching.


Approximate Release Dates/New Stream Schedule

14 Oct

So now I’ve blown my hand for this whole Dead Salesman Games thing, I should probably talk actual dates-and-times. I’m close enough that I can lay down sketchy targets of when this stuff should actually be hitting the digital streets/discuss what they will be.

For example:

October 20th: Release of the first Dead Salesman Games ruleset, a free mini-RPG.

October 20th-31st: The first Dead Salesman Games product will be released: Hobospy. This is a joint work Jibar and I have been working on for a few months. It’s a pick-up-and-play title that requires no studying, no memorization, no tedious reads and re-reads of the rulebook; the mechanics of the game are such that you’re playing it as you read the instructions. I had a relatively inexperienced GM run the game blind, in a limited amount of time, with no problems whatsoever. The game is a blend of dark comedy and psychological horror, and my favorite part is, it’s totally diceless. Should cost around US $5.00.

October 25th-31st: The Kickstarter for the next Dead Salesman Games product, Mary Sue, should be going up.

And now to address another issue, which is my periodic Livestreams. One of the reasons they’ve ceased lately is that the time slot I used to film them in is now taken up by classes. Long story short, the only days and times I can run them now are as follows:

Monday, 9:50 AM-5:00 PM PST

Thursday,7:00 PM-9:00 PM PST

Friday, 9:50 AM-4:00 PM PST

Post in the comments to let me know which, if any, works best for you. I’ll try to average it out from there.


Questions Answered

11 Oct

From the last post, here are some brutally paraphrased questions:

1.) Do you intend to release big systems or smaller modules?

Somewhere in between those. I’m creating roleplaying systems that can be used to create new content, but not systems as sprawling (and generic) as d20 Modern or GURPS. Generally the systems will be created around creating a certain type of play. I’m inspired by the modern boardgames market; you can find boardgames simulating everything from the fast-paced world of a French guillotine operator to the life of a Chinese poet-prince. I’d like to create games that can be easily understood, won’t play like the last fifty RPGs the person has tried, and are accessible by new and old players alike.

2.) How extensive are your mechanics? I never thought of you as a nuts-and-bolts guy.

I give the mechanical side considerable attention, and my systems are generally scratch-built. Several are diceless, and the rest tend to use d6s above all others.

Snooping around here might give someone the impression I’m interested only in the setting, but that’s an incomplete picture. The fact is that I’m very interested in how mechanics can be tweaked to create a mood and playstyle, and that’s one of the things I’ve been exploring with these projects.

3.) Will we be seeing some of your previo4us RPG/World Building projects represented?

Down the line, yes, I’ll probably be expanding on previous projects. I can tell you at least one will be around at launch.

4.) Physical copies?

Not right now, no. Right now I’m worrying about creating products and marketing them out; I’d rather not deal with physical printing and distribution, especially since that usually puts you in different legal territory as far as licenses go.

5.) What settings are you doing?

You’ll see soon enough.


Coming Soon to an Internet Near You

09 Oct

Perhaps you’ve been wondering what I’ve been working on. This is it.

By the end of this month, I’m launching a brand of commercial roleplaying and parlor games. The past year (and especially the last few months) have been spent laboriously designing, compiling, testing, and archiving a few different rules systems, many of which are either complete and ready to roll or a stone’s throw from it. All of these products will be purchasable (or freely downloadable) as .pdfs, and each will be based on a concept I found funny or weird or interesting enough to spend half a year working on.

Again: this is where my time’s gone. I’ve written over a hundred pages, done another dozen pages of art, familiarized myself with the relevant software/transactions, held iterative playtest and design sessions, developed a crude mockery of a business plan–it’s been like a part-time job, one that hasn’t, thus far, made me any money. What I mean to say is that this is definitely happening: it’s just a matter of how fast I can finish playtesting the games and rigging up the website while balancing my courseload.

Like I said: this is all happening later this month. I don’t have any links for you to spam, and I don’t have any buttons for money-giving to happen. This is not a launch post. This is akin to the same private announcement I’ve been giving my friends and family: not trying to get people hyped up, just giving people an idea of what’s been going on. I’ll turn on the hype machine when I’m ready to launch.

The first thing you’re going to be seeing over the next week/few weeks is going to be the release of a.) a free roleplaying game, b.) a non-free but very cheap (~$5) roleplaying game, and c.) some documentation on what roleplaying games are and how to get the most enjoyment out of them. In addition to creating game content, I’ll be writing up guides on GMing, worldbuilding, and systems customization which I will make freely available.

Eventually, I’ll get to the big game I’ve been working on, the one with the sprawling Google document and the months of design behind it. This is the one I’m banking on a little more. It’ll still be very cheap for an RPG (ten dollars or less), but I’ll want to put more production values into its makeup. I’m strongly considering Kickstarter, but I’ll get to that when the time comes.

Anyway, that’s the skinny. If you got questions, I’ll take ’em downstairs.


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 12.5)

07 Oct

Okay, Maul is one of those two dudes over there in armor, standing on the two street corners by the two lampposts near the two alleys. Time to pick one of my greatsword blades to hit him with.

That was bracing. So I walked up to him, and he was clearly gearing up to slide one of the same couple of bland threats he’d been peddling all evening when I sucker-smacked him in the jaw with my greatsword. To his credit, he stood his ground and drew his weapon. To his dire shame and public humiliation, he was really, really awful with it. I’m serious. He fought like he was swinging an oar underwater. He dodged like his face was a rental he’d already lost the deposit on. His footwork looked like a stoned fiddler crab coming home from a long day at the office, and after a couple choice hits, he went down like a pillow fort under catapult fire.

Of course, as soon as I’d beaten him down, he started to get back up again. I’m starting to detect a pattern: all the people I really want to kill, the gods give freakish and inhuman durability. This is seriously starting to piss me off. But you know what? If I can’t do the job right, the least I can do is make him regret the fact. I kicked the crap out of him again. He got up again, attacked me, and I put him down again. Finally I managed to lure him down to the pier, where I proceeded to whap him around for a few minutes and kick his metal-clad ass into the canal. Have fun drowning over and over again, numbnuts.

I passed a couple guards on my way out. They were all perfectly sociable, like they hadn’t just witnessed six first-degree murders all performed on the same man. I was equally sociable, like I didn’t secretly want to flip them all off and throw them in the canal too. We shared a moment of mutual respectful. Then they went on their stupid shitkicking corrupt ratscrewing way, and I left town like I owed it money.

“Come back soon!” called a guard.

“Just as soon as I can kite a dragon,” I replied. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some sleeping off to do.”

Tomorrow: Screenshots!


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 12.4)

05 Oct

I think I’ve really, honestly lost track of how many transients I’ve killed tonight. It’s a large number. More people than I’ve actually seen aboveground, come to think of it. I guess it’s a tough choice between living with filthy thieves in a sewer tunnel and getting regularly pushed around by thieves wandering around a giant deck.

Suffice it to say I’m about done with this place. My quest to contact and subsequently mock the thieves’ guild has been an unqualified failure, and the stack of treasure and looted booze I’ve claimed as a consolation prize is starting to make my shoulders ache. So maybe I should just turn around and head out. I’m not too drunk to navigate out of here, especially since I’ve been leaving a trail of smashed bottles and puddles of sick. I’d be in better shape if I hadn’t introduced the beggar killing drinking game a couple hours in.

Just found the entrance. Hey, it’s that priest guy from earlier. I never did figure out what his deal was, except that he’s apparently a priest of Mara, goddess of attracting all the really creepy dudes to be her priests. I’ve been in one of their temples. I’ve seen the statues of her. Let’s just say I’m guessing their daily offerings are done furtively and within the voluminous pockets of their robes. Anyway, guy’s selling a marriage amulet or something. I think I’ll buy one. It’ll come in handy in case I ever want to make things official between me and my axe.

Alright, time to get out of here. After a brief stop at the Maul, of course…


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 12.3)

04 Oct

Announcement time is about four days away.

So none of these underworld punks particularly want to play with me. There’s a bartender who won’t sell me anything, a bouncer trying to impress me with how spooky his nickname is, a bunch of drunken assholes sitting at tables, and a few cooling corpses by the entrance, and that’s about it as far as underworld nightlife. I don’t think any of these people are in charge around here, so my Plan A for tonight’s entertainment–telling this guild that they’re stupid–probably isn’t gonna work out. I’ll settle for spitting in a mug and giving it to Dirge on his way out.

I don’t think I’m going the right way. I briefly considered the possibility that I was drunk, but I’ve since discarded the notion. There’s no way anyone could vomit as many times as I have and still have alcohol in their system.

No, this isn’t the right way at all. I’d been intending to go topside to Riften’s streets, but I seem to have stumbled onto a long stretch of sewer filled with bloodthirsty street thugs. Man. If I am drunk, I really need to get drunk more often. This is working out great.

Okay, straight up, I’m starting to feel bad about this. Not very bad. Just a little bit. Like a teensy-tiny-smudgy-bit. I mean, these people are dressed in sacking. They’re wielding little pot-metal knives that bend when you try to chop carrots. The men have filthy tangles of facial hair, the women have filthy tangles of facial hair. These people must have real, literal mental issues if they’re attacking a woman wearing steel armor and swinging a greatsword. I also feel a little bit bad because I’m kind of invading their territory. Not just an ancient historically-significant ruin that belongs to everybody, but their own little carved-out niche of the sewers. Normally the self-defense argument would totally indemnify me of wrongdoing, but I don’t think “I walked into a sewer, killed a hobo who attacked me, kept walking, killed some more hobos attacking me, went downstairs, and killled the hobos who attacked me” is a compelling denial of misconduct.

Haha! This guy’s a chef or something. I’m totally taking his chef’s whites. I always wanted to be a chef, but for some reason no-one ever let me around knives, fire, or ovens designed for large animals.

I came across some guy hiding behind a door. He keeps pulling back the slide, saying he doesn’t recognize me, and closing it. Screw that, I want in. I knock again. He opens the slot, looks at me, closes the slot. I knock again. He opens and shuts it again. So then I nock an arrow, knock on the door, and knock it right into his center mass when the slot opens. Guy yells. I give it a minute, knock again. Slot slides open. Arrow flies through. I did this until I got bored.

Okay, until I ran out of arrows.


On Inconvenient Lizards: The Redemption of Cahmel (Let’s Play Skyrim, Part 12.2)

04 Oct

So I just walked in here and I’ve already had to kill two people. I seem to be controversial among the Riften criminal element; either you take one look at my larcenous couture and decide I’m a perfect crime buddy, or you see me rollin’ and commence hatin’ directly. And let me tell you, these fellows had some choice hatin’ going on. I’m not sure which was stranger: that they picked a fight with me for no reason, or that they committed to fighting me to the death.

Having resolved this little encounter, I pushed on. Before long I came upon a whole little mini-tavern of crooks. They broke the streak of polarized underworld responses by failing to either attack or solicit me. Mostly, they just kind of annoyed me.

Like this asshole. What is it with morons in this town giving themselves spooky names? What do they think they’re going to accomplish? It’s their goddamned street name. Of coures it’s scary. No person in history has ever gone, “I ain’t scared of no  Thieves’ Guild. They all a bunch of…what? You say one of them is nicknamed…M-M-Murderer McGee? But I’m vulnerable to being murdered! I wonder if fifty percent of all of my future income would be enough to appease such a dark and fearsome soul?”

Seriously. First Maul, now Dirge. And why’s he called Dirge, you ask? Because he’s apparently, “the last thing you hear before they put you in the ground.”

So let’s set aside the obvious problem with this premise, which is that–if your funeral dirge is actually the last thing you hear–then the thief-bruiser Spacky Buntuggin, AKA Dirge, is NOT going to be the last thing you hear unless he then stands over your grave humming real loud while you run out of oxygen. That problem aside, is he actually trying to be the last thing any given person hears? Because that’s almost guaranteed to be a crunch, or a roll of thunder, or their own screams, unless he puts in special effort. Maybe he sings limericks while he’s killing people.

I think from now on I’m going to call myself Cahmel Laughing at You. It’s the last thing most of MY enemies hear.