I’m working hard on a new setting release, Electric Gods, set on a run away generation star ship overrun by self concerned A.I.
And I will be running a session for up to 6 players at Bris Con at the end of April.
The people have lived in this jungle place, between the Sapphire, the river of birth, and the Jade, the river of death, for thirty years. The local god ForSevOran has cared for the people, keeping the tribal enclave clear and plentiful of food. The great god NeThronSev has avatars among the people and sees far and wisely.
It seems that the supply of AcSticks grows thin and so ForSevOran’s power wanes, and territory shrinks. It sees the dreadful Bat People, servants of ThreatThreSevTo, multiply and begin to raid out of The Past. A crisis brews.
Do the people seek to move into The Future, beyond ForSevOran’s protection? Do they counter raid the Bat People Enclaves? One family, the Kelmin, urge a move across the Jade, into the realm of SevixNinonfi, for ancient treasures lie in the land of the dead. The Macrons, under the Mind Touched Marta, say the jungle beckons across the Sapphire, where the god ThroneTwifa seeks to breach the walls of heaven.
You listen to the council of the elders, and the Seven Voice of NeThronSev. You are the young ones, some expert humans, some born as physical or mental sports, and you glance one to the other thinking the fellowship must choose a path themselves, and the adults will follow if they are wise.
Considerable play testing on several parallel releases leads to the creation of version 1.1 of the core. Here is the new set of core books being released over the next few months and numbering rules. Genre extensions undergoing final play tests. Settings still in progress, how they are faring.
Development is still under way for Zombies Day Zero, the Horror genre extension and the Magic genre extension. Play testing has led to a lot of feedback and adjusting in the core which has led to a need for version 1.1 of the core materials.
The most notable change is the extraction of various rules into a new core book : “Operations”. Operations collects the concepts for complex actions, and sequences of actions into a cohesive method for handling multi-step tasks.
Additionally the mechanisms for cooperative action have been moved into the Inner Core and reworked to make it easier to run and to understand. The Operations book and revised Inner Core have been released. A revised On Aptitude should be out shortly, and then revised Book of Struggles and Combat Toolkit shortly after that.
The Numbering System
The core books are given version numbers in the for X.Y.Z (e.g. 1.1.0).
X : The first number is the core major version (currently there is only version one). This should only change if there is a major change in mechanism, making rules from one major version generally incompatible with rules from a different major version.
Y : The core minor version (currently version 0 or version 1) indicates that, given both rules modules have the same major version, then there may be some compatibility issues that you will need to resolve. When resolving such issues the rules from the higher version number should overrule those from lower version numbers.
Z : The document errata version. This indicates, if the major and minor version numbers are the same, that the document has been edited somewhat without changing the rules provided. There may be format fixes, clearer explanations, added examples and so forth.
The Genre Extensions
Currently being developed are the Horror and Magic genre extensions. These provide generic support for any home brew game you wish to build in those areas, and they can be combined if desired. In both cases the aim is to keep rules light, and to support clear narrative flow with broad mechanical support to avoid improvisation overload.
Zombies Day Zero is nearing completion. It is not reliant on any genre extensions and should be easy to play with just the core and the Combat Toolkit.
Mists Of The Carpathians, set in the time of Vlad Tepes (Dracula) and allowing the magical mythology of the region to be real, continues development and play test as a labor of love. It requires a more fully developed magic genre extension so it will be a while before an initial release is ready.
Time Paths (a time travel campaign with faxed routes between time space coordinates) and Shadows Over the Galaxy (a human dominated galaxy with plenty of political intrigue and something lurking in the dark spaces) are both advancing slowly, but at a lower priority while all the other fronts are tackled.
Combat struggles have risk for characters who must brave death, or serious injury, to fight through the enemy in order to rescue prisoners, hold a rear guard action to let friends escape, blast away in savage firefights to defend an important position, or fire missiles to disable a deadly orbital space station.
This toolkit expands the mechanisms of The Book of Struggles to add some detailed support for combat. It provides rules extensions for managing injuries and how they heal, the method by which a combat struggle can apply injuries to characters, and the mechanisms for medical intervention.
The toolkit also supplies a set of guides for handling different situations such as brawling, close combat and firefights. Additionally you are given sets of possible non injury complications that might arise commonly in those combat situations.
This toolkit builds on the All Us Gamers RPG core rules:
Combat Toolkit – the attack action, injury, healing and combat struggles
So what’s next?
Time to begin the journey into print with the first setting. The dungeon setting created for play testing the combat toolkit has become quite popular, despite being very raw, so that is going to get all the attention. Stay tuned for a kickstarter on this.
At the same time there are other toolkits to develop. The next most useful one is going to be the Stealth Toolkit, which will cover sneaking around, and trying to catch sneaks in the act.
Here is the backlog of projects for a more complete picture:
Chase and Race
Open Table Retro series – Dungeon, Wilderness, City, High Seas
I have again reorganised the work. It is now broken out into The Book of Struggles and The Struggle Toolkits: Combat, Stealth, Manoeuvre and Social.
For a while the Book of Struggles seemed to be expanding in scope faster than I could write or play test it. Then I realised that the main new work was all specific to different types of struggle and example cases. So I have again reorganised the work into The Book of Struggles and The Struggle Toolkits.
My readers will have worked out by now that I am developing this game using a Lean/Agile process. I’m putting the parts out there as they become “good enough” and then refining them. That is why I haven’t tackled print yet, and I am only doing PDF for now. That way I can release improved versions for free at no loss.
So I will soon publish the Book of Struggles PDF, again as a Pay What You Like download at DriveThru. Hopefully I will also release the Struggle Toolkit for Combat at the same time. Then later toolkits for Stealth, Manoeuvre and finally the big one, Social. The Social Toolkit may need to be split further if it grows too much, but we shall see.
Here is the current directory for the Toolkits:
Combat: Close Combat
Combat Extension Rules
Injury and Healing
Heroic Action When Injured
The Attack Action
Attack Action Difficulty and Aptitudes
Attack Action Success and Saves
Stealth: Cat and Mouse
Stealth: Infiltrators and Sentries
Stealth Extension Rules
The Sneak Action
The Lookout Action
Alarms and Alarm Triggers
The Disable Trigger Action
Not yet defined
The Social Toolkit
Social: Competitive Lobby
Social: Investigation and Deception
Social: Scam and Detect
Social: Bribe and Bargain
Social: Stand Off Dance
Social Extension Rules
Not yet defined
This work has also resulted in some minor refinements to the other core books. Mostly presentation of the rules rather than functional changes. The updates will release shortly after The Book of Struggles.
Then its on to some settings. I’m working on a new setting set in the Carpathian Mountains at the time of Vlad III Dracula, a.k.a The Impaler. There will be some sorcery in the setting but its very low fantasy. Should be fun.
On Aptitude – character definition and development and necessary additions to action process
The Book of Struggles – handling conflict like combat, chases, computer hacking etc.
Of Wealth and Treasure – character and corporate possessions, assets and the power of wealth
Us and Them – factions and their behaviour in a low prep manner
Time Wise – pacing and time management structures for your games
And beyond the core there are now three settings to choose from for development:
When the Plague Came A flu like plague that sweeps the world turns out to have worse consequences as many survivors become murderously paranoid or rabid.
Shadow Over the Galaxy Mankind settled the farthest reaches of the galaxy 3,000 years ago. As the immortals of the core worlds fall into more conflict with the provinces, something lurking in the dark between the space lanes begins to cast its shadow over civilisation.
Time Roads Atlantis built a massive network of roads between eras, securing its domination over a 4,000 year stretch of history. Then the chaos wave smashed through the network, wiping Atlantis from history leaving the history we now know in its place. There are a few pieces of time travel technology and surviving time roads to be exploited by the survivors and those that stumble into it.
The Kickstarter will allow backers to vote on which of these three settings will get developed first. Only backers votes will be used to make the decision. I will obey their choice.
This is the first planned set of items being created in 2020 for the All Us Gamers collection. The Inner Core has already been released. Here is a look at what each of the other works are.
Core – On Aptitude
In the Inner Core, when your character is trying to do something, you decide your character’s aptitudes as you go. Aptitude gives a number that can alter how many dice you get to roll in the Dice Engine procedure for deciding how things turn out. This is great for playing in a very improvisational way. However it is useful to have slightly more structure than that when designing and running your character, so you don’t have to do all the mental work without support by some guiding process.
The On Aptitude module provides a more structured way to define your character’s capabilities. There are four aptitude types defined, Attribute, Culture, Profession and Specialisation. Each of these describes an aptitude level and the circumstances where it can be applied to an action or save. The guide does not list all possible variations of aptitude description, instead allowing players to provide meaningful descriptions such as Profession: Engineer 1 or Specialisation : Star Drive Engineer 2. During play the application of these aptitudes is guided by an understanding of the described aptitude spheres and negotiation with the GM and play group.
There is also a system for improving your character’s aptitudes over time through training and adventure experience. Experience is gained by achieving team objectives. The section regarding character behaviour due to “motivation” plays in to this by giving additional experience when an objective is achieved if it aligned with a character’s motivation .
This module of the Core is heavily play tested and nearing completion. It should be released sometime in January 2020.
Core – Book of Struggles
This module lends structure to playing out conflicts between characters and groups. It introduces a general game structure called a struggle, where each side in a conflict is simultaneously trying to do something to the other while defending itself. The Inner Core action mechanism underlies this, and the opposing results play out to produce an interesting conflict narrative. Its also possible for one side in the struggle to “gain the advantage”. A side with the advantage may press the advantage, while the other side may attempt to seize the advantage.
The obvious use for struggle is combat, such as a duel, brawl, aerial dogfight or clash of arms. However the struggle mechanism is also applicable to chases, where one side is trying to escape from the other. Other struggles include attempts to over come an active security system, or to persuade a potential benefactor to accept your point of view rather than that of a competitor.
This module also includes structures for handling injury and healing, and mechanical damage and repair.
There is a fair bit more play testing required for this module, and its unlikely to be released until the end of February.
When the Plague Came
This is the first specific setting release planned for All Us Gamers. It is a “collapse of civilisation” scenario based on the sudden spread of a plague that produces uncontrollable, murderous rage in its victims. The players take on the roles of ordinary people, who are friends with one another, coping with the collapse of the world they know and trying to survive and forge a new life under the radically altered conditions.
This setting carefully builds on the On Aptitude and Book of Struggles modules in the core. It is also an excellent vehicle for introducing a series of game master techniques for managing different kinds of time flow in the game and summoning encounters for players to experience. It also produces lots of guided improvisation opportunities.
The base kit and core between them will have everything needed to play. The additional modules for When the Plague Came provide more nuanced techniques for handling different time periods throughout the unfolding disaster. They lend support to a game master who wants to provide a game where the players go from the “normal world as we know it” through to the post collapse environment a year or two later.
This setting is in its infancy with some broad brush strokes laid down. We will be looking for play testers towards the end of January, 2020.
If you want to know more, join the discussion on Facebook.