State of the Conspiracy: The Stuck on a Train Update

As we move into election season (in the US) it seems appropriate to update on the state of Project Cassandra, especially as I’ve set myself a goal of release on or around the week of the US Presidential elections. The short version: it’s nearly there. The longer version with a but: it’s nearly there but I’ve had some rather severe issues with creativity and motivation of late.

Right now I’m focused on two aspects, final edits and layout. The edits are coming along smoothly, the biggest issue is one of consistency. In some sections I address the reader directly while in others I’m more abstract and indirect. Resolving that shouldn’t be too hard, I just need to set aside a period where I can go through the entire document at once and ensure that I stay in a single frame of reference. Luckily for me I’m not only half way through a long train journey right now but it’s going nowhere thanks to a fallen power line. Yay.

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Layout is also progressing but at a much slower pace. After the debacle with the Tower Fall pdf compatibility I’ve gone back to the start. First up was a switch to the latest dev branch of Scribus and a new from scratch document… which of course generated some new issues that I need to investigate and address. The second half of the layout process has been artwork. At the moment I have enough that I could, in theory, complete the game and have all 4 characters illustrated if I reword their descriptions (Sarsin for example would need to be an ex-cop rather than a former member of the secret service). It’s not ideal though as that would mean losing a few images from the rules sections. I’m going to see about the feasibility of getting a couple more pieces commissioned but that will depend on how busy the artist is over the next few months and my budget.

A proportion of the artwork, however, is stock art that I’ve been able to acquire for the grand total of… nothing! For those I’m now working to edit and fade the images. Or rather I’m learning how to edit and fade in the way that I want. It’s taking a while but I do at least feel like I’m making progress and am enjoying the process. My aim is to have all the free stock art selected and edited over the next few weeks, after which I can start slotting it into place.

Take 2: TowerFall is live on DriveThruRPG! And this time it works!

After much faff a new working version of TowerFall is now live on DriveThruRPG! Suffice to say this took far longer than I wanted it to but I can say that it was certainly a learning experience. First lesson is one that I’ve tried to drill into my students many times, always double check everything.

The second is that PDF format compliance is apparently rather difficult to get right. In order to identify the issue I turned to a free trial of Acrobat Pro as this seems to be the standard for the creation of PDF printers files (the X-1 and X-3 formats). I’d been working on the assumption that something in Scribus was failing to meet the standard and thus causing the conversion error on DriveThruRPG. Imagine my surprise then when all my original files pass the preflight checks in Acrobat and are reported as meeting the standard. Better yet, if I open them in Acrobat then export them again they suddenly work with the DriveThruRPG system.

Brain clonk. Yep. Both pass the preflight checker, only one works.

My guess at this point is that there’s some sort of subtle error with the Scribus formatting, possibly associated with font embedding based on some further research. I’ll bring it to the attention of the Scribus forums to see if it’s a known issue and if there’s any work around. If there isn’t that leaves me with a quandary, namely that I can’t justify the cost of a regular subscription to Acrobat Pro let alone the full creative cloud software that includes InDesign.

In the long term I’m sure I’ll work out something, the completion of Project Cassandra is still a way off while my Demon Hunters adventures are slowly coming together. I’m hoping to participate in GameChef 2016 if the themes manage to grab me, the ingredients for that go live this evening.

So wrapping up with that link once again: TowerFall is now actually properly live on DriveThruRPG

LunarShadow Designs now on DrivethruRPG

Correction: Ok, so my below post was rather premature, it seems that there was an issue with the file that neither I nor the preflight software at DriveThruRPG spotted. That resulted in a corrupted file which I also failed to spot before I put this post up. So it’s been a learning experience, if only in why not to jump the gun with files. I’m currently trying to resolve the issue but that’s taking longer than I’d like, once it’s sorted I’ll make Tower Fall available again.


Another quick update but I didn’t want to hold this one back. Following the release of Tower Fall, my first micro RPG, I’m glad to announce that LunarShadow Designs can more be found on DriveThruRPG! You can find my publisher page at http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/10032/LunarShadow-Designs while Tower Fall is available to download from https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/183370/Tower-Fall-Micro-RPG

I’ll still be releasing material here on my main site but where possible the final products will also be available at DriveThruRPG. While Project Cassandra remains a priority I’ve a few other pieces outlined, including another one page game and an adventure collection for the Demon Hunters RPG.

Demon Hunters / Faith Corps: Tonal Conditions

Just a quick post to highlight a hack over at Spirit of the Blank, where Mike Olson has been sharing some details about using the Faith Corps system (aka the Demon Hunters system) for running Star Wars. One of the aspects he’s tweaked is the way conditions work, introducing the idea of predefined, character specific mild conditions. It’s a hack that I really like, especially for convention games where it provides players further insight into their character. This is especially emphasised by the fact that Mike has eschewed from the approach of describing physical harm but instead favours emotional responses to stress. For Star Wars it really fits with the tone of the films, where characters tend towards taking only a small number of moderate (or greater) injuries while also being constantly stressed by the scene or antagonists.

All in all it’s a compelling tweak and one that I’m likely to incorporate in future, both when running Demon Hunters and when designing my own systems.

TowerFall Micro RPG

Following on from the 200 word RPG challenge I decided to expand upon TowerFall and flesh it out into more complete micro-RPG, limiting myself to a single page. The extra real estate allowed me to do two things, rework the main rules to clarify areas I wasn’t too happy with originally and to add in an entirely new section: character classes. My intention with the classes has been to add a mechanical depth to the characters while, hopefully, evoking the classical fantasy genre.

So here it is, TowerFall by LunarShadow Designs.

I’ve still got a final round of proof reading / error checking to do but want to put it out there now (if you spot any glaring issues please let me know). The final thing that comes with this first game is a new name, LunarShadow Designs and a logo to go with it. I’m still getting used to it but LunarShadow.net, while fine for my domain name, just doesn’t work as a name for publishing under hence the change. Next up, redesigning this blog and setting up a drivethruRPG publishers account for another place to share what I produce.

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Tower Fall: A 200 Word RPG

The 200 word RPG challenge is an interesting take on micro-games and one that I didn’t get around to participating in last year. The level of creativity in the submissions is really high, as is the level of diversity. The contest, and most of the submissions, seems to be very much orientated towards focused single scene descriptive games. For mine I’ve tried to the other way, with a bit more traditional narrative and use of dice to overcome challenges (though you stack rather than roll them). I’ve also got the initial outline of a 200 word supplement for the game which adds special class abilities, expect to see that posted soon.


 

Tower Fall

The Wizard has been vanquished but can you escape before the Tower Falls?
A game for 3-4, each requires 3d6, 1d8, 1d10 and 1d12.

Together: Name characters equal to the number of players – 1. Describe them.
Roll 1d12, highest narrates the first scene.

Narrator: Describe the current floor. Let the characters explore, as they do describe challenges equal to the number of characters. In order assign difficulties of 3, 2 or 1.
Next player clockwise: Pick a character for the turn, attempt to overcome a challenge.

To overcome a challenge:
Create or add to your dice tower by stacking a number of dice equal to the difficulty. The tower must be only 1 die wide.
If you run out of dice steal them from another tower.
If you collapse a tower remove dice from your pool (and the game) equal to the difficulty. Try again.
If a player runs out of dice their current character dies.

Once the challenge is overcome play moves round clockwise. At the end of the round the surviving characters escape to the next floor. Narration moves around 1 player, play continues for a set number of levels or until all but one character has Fallen.

State of the Conspiracy: Artwork!

Today I received a preview of the nearly finished first piece of character art I’ve commissioned for the game. To say it’s great is a massive understatement. Getting to finally meet the character is always a special moment, it makes them real in a way that a simple character sheet can’t and I can’t wait to see how the rest stand out.

My aim with the game is to have 8-10 images for the game, using a mix of commissioned pieces and stock art, all by the same artist. Should I ever move onto a second game I’ll look into using a wider range of stock art. While I’ll always aim to produce as professional a product as possible I’m very much aware that I’ll never make much (if any) money from them. Like many people though that’s not why I do it, this is and always will be a hobby to me.

Now I realise that this post teases some artwork but I’m going to hold off on posting the preview as I want to present the final image in context with the finalised character sheet. Hopefully that won’t be too far off.