2019 Progress: Halfway there?

As ever time marches on and all too soon the first six months of the year have passed. Given my hope of this year being the one where I move a host of projects forward I thought it would be worthwhile to do an update on my goals for 2019.

Have dones

  • Written and playtested Ghosts of Iron for the Crystal Heart RPG. I’m in the process of revising the text before I submit it. Should be released to Kickstarter backers later this year.
  • Completed the draft for Trick of the Light, my next Demon Hunters adventure starter inspired by the Slice of Life web series. Currently editing and moving it to layout so should hopefully be released soon (ideally before GenCon).
  • Drafted three missions for The Sprawl and handed them over to @HyveMynd for editing / layout. Aiming for a release later this year.

Ongoing

  • Attending conventions – I made a 1 day trip to UK Games Expo 2019 and will be attending BurritoCon 3 in Manchester later this month. I’m also aiming to attend DragonMeet later in the year, if I do I’ll be running games as part of Games on Demand.
  • Progress on Project Cassandra! I posted up the current characters and a rules summary (which is now itself out of date) and am in the process of putting together a playtest packet for BurritoCon. First public playtest since the disaster of Dragonmeet.
  • I have notes for the remaining two Slice of Life adventures and have decided that the Clean-up Crew scenario will be a Fiasco playset given how well the episode meshes with that system. These will be my next focus after Ghosts of Iron and Trick of the Light.
  • The D&D Immortals campaign continues and has passed the tipping point, with the characters ensnared by Destiny and heading towards some epic showdowns with the previous generation of Immortals.

Will I evers

  • Patreon. With the change in how Patreon were going to charge creators I decided to sign up for one with the thought of actually starting it later in the year. Right now I’m sitting on it for the simple reason that it won’t work until I manage to build some interest in what I produce and the first step in that is to actually produce some material. I haven’t released anything since last year and right now I don’t have a core focus for any Patreon project. I don’t know if there is enough interest in material focusing solely on Demon Hunters while most of my other projects have been standalone. Regardless of whether I ever do use it my first goal has to be building up a catalogue of material I can point to.
  • The Kingsport Tribune one-page Cthulhu idea looks like it is going nowhere, just didn’t come together though it did give me some practice with a newspaper style layout.
  • Rocket Demons of Antiquity is on the backburner for now. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a scenario that will require an ongoing campaign to delve into as opposed to my typical one-shot playtests. Plus I’ve got at least three other adventures inspired by previous campaigns where I already know the story-beats to write up first.
  • DMs Guild material – While I have notes for a few products I’ve yet to make any move or progress towards writing them up. Although I expect they would be far bigger sellers than anything I’ve produced to date I’m fortunate enough to be in the position where that isn’t a priority so I can focus on the material that most interests me.
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Demon Hunters: An Interview… with me!

The Demon Hunters World-bible and script Kickstarter is coming to a close, with a little over 2 days left to reach its goal. The campaign is ~$1000 away from funding at the moment so I wanted to talk a little about why I think you should back it. The below is an edited transcript from a short interview that I did about my involvement with the franchise as a signatory of the shared cinematic license.

• How did you come to the Demon Hunters universe?

I came to Demon Hunters by accident through the original RPG – I was a fan of the Cortex system and when I heard there was a new setting coming out for it I asked my FLGS to order a copy in. I knew virtually nothing about the world, beyond the fact it was supernatural comedy but from the moment I opened it up I was hooked.

• What is it about Demon Hunters that you like the most? Why?

The element that has always drawn me into the world of Demon Hunters is the humour. Demon Hunters took the urban fantasy genre and applied a dry satire to it in the way that only Dead Gentlemen Productions knows how. It’s there in the original movies and by the time the RPG came out it had been honed to perfection and expanded to cover an entire world history. So many of the concepts are absurd when you look at them but the setting puts such a straight face on them that you wonder how they haven’t always been staples of the genre.

• Do you have a favourite memory related to Demon Hunters? If so what is it?

Just one? Thanks to some amazing players over the years I could go on for hours. If I did have to pick then I think it would have to be the first time I ran the adventure that would go on to become Channel Surfing – at the end of the first session one of the players, who was brand new to RPGs turned to me and told me that I had managed to properly unnerve them as they investigated an abandoned apartment – little did any of us know that by the end of the next session she would be embraced by the puppet incarnation of Count Dracula. I can’t think of anywhere else where that chain of events would make sense, let alone be a dramatic high of the campaign.

• What kinds of things do you hope to see come out of the shared cinematic license? Are there stories you might like to tell?

I’m already a signatory of the shared cinematic license and have been putting it to use releasing adventure starters. Right now I’m still working on the remainder of the Slice of Life releases that I pledged to produce as part of that Kickstarter but after that, I have a number of plans. I have multiple Warehouse adventures to adapt to the current canon but the big one I have plans for is an adventure I’m loosely calling Rocket Demons of Antiquity, spanning both the Victorian and Modern eras and utilising an off the books, historical team led by Mina Harker. It’s just a concept and it’ll be a while before it even enters playtesting.

As for what else I would like to see? More, more of everything. The world bible hints at so much that I would love to see people fill in the gaps and expand on what is really going on. Is the Cypher collective evolving into something new and terrifying? What truth lurks beneath the Bermuda Triangle? And most importantly of all why a Yak?

• If you were in the DH universe, what would you be? (hunter, creature, etc)

Well, I’m a research scientist so a member of Mwhahaha would make sense but let’s be realistic – like most of us, I’d be that normal that stumbles into something that they can’t make sense off and either runs off screaming or gets eaten just as the team show up to save the day.

• What do you want to see happen in Demon Hunters 3?

I think everybody wants to know what happened to Gabriel and Chris. Are they in Hell? Are they somewhere in between? Also just what has happened to the Brotherhood during all this time? Is there a new Alpha One? Did Ichabod’s treachery get revealed or did the events of Dead Camper Lake get quietly swept under the rug?

• Why should backers care about Demon Hunters? What is it that makes it cool or fun? In other words, what is the Demon Hunters universe at its best, or what does it do best? What stories does it tell the best?

It’s Dead Gentlemen Productions at their best. Demon Hunters was where it all started and you can see how those first two movies have influenced the approaches of everything that came later. That was 20 years ago and the team have gone from students working it out as they go along to producing professional level material that is pushing the boundaries of small, independently produced productions. Just imagine what they could do with the series if they put all that experience behind it? The Slice of Life mini-series gave us a taste but a full movie could push it so much further.

So go take a look at the Kickstarter and if you can back it. Together we can renew Demon Hunters.

The Undesirables: Character sheets

While the first five members of The Undesirables came together pretty smoothly I’ve hit something of a roadblock with the final member, a middle Eastern blood mage. Neither the aspects nor the stunts seem to be coming together so instead of struggling along with it I spent some time putting the character sheets and backgrounds for the other PCs together.

Ultimately these will be updated for inclusion in the final adventure but that’s a long way off. Short term my plan is to put together a starter and bundle them together so they are available for all. Until then you can download just the characters here: The_Undesirables

The Undesirables: Frankenstein’s Monster

CC00_NE_Supernatural_ScientistExperimentingWithCapturedZombieInLab_5-5x7-25_GMB_smallThe mad genius of Victor Frankenstein needs no introduction. In crafting the creature that would become his tormentor he exceeded all but the gods in giving form to artificial life. In the years since Victor’s death the Creature has walked the earth, slowly learning to control the rage that has threatened to consume it time after time. It is alone. Unique, but flawed. Patient.

Many have hunted the Creature, in the name of God and of Science and of Power but none have come close to understanding its motives. That it desires purpose. Arriving in London under the guise of a circus freak it quickly learned of Mina and her team of outcasts. A meeting was arranged and an agreement reached. The Creature would join the team and aid in combating the pervasive rise of mad technology ushered in by the steam age. In return Mina would redirect the Brotherhood, Chapters re-assigned to inconsequential locales or sent on wild goose chases. All know that the status quo cannot be maintained for long, the Creature is too well known to stay hidden forever and the longer it associates with the team the greater the risk that all involved will be compromised.

Approaches

Disciplines

Forceful d8

Mystic arts d4

Sneaky d6

Covert ops d4

Quick d8

Social engineering d8

Careful d6

Combat & tactics d6

Clever d10

R&D d10

Flashy d4

Faith: 4

Concept: Monstrous creation of an infamous scientist

Trouble: Barely restrained rage

Discipline 1: An intellect surpassing my creator

Discipline 2: Harbouring hidden hopes for humanity

Discipline 3: They may hunt me but they will never break me

 

Stunt 1: Because I am the brawns as well as the brains I gain +1 when I forcefully use Combat & Tactics

Stunt 2: Because I was built to surpass the frailness of mere humans I gain 1 extra moderate condition

Stunt 3: Because I have learned to live in the shadows of civilisation I gain +2 to sneakily overcome attempts to spot my hulking frame

Vulnerability: Because my inhuman visage is impossibly terrifying I automatically inflict the minor condition of “horrified” on all mortals who see me if they have never encountered the supernatural before.

The Undesirables: Baron Albertus Beechworth IV

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Image copyright JEShields

Baron Albertus Beechworth IV arrived in London six months ago from Australia to raise capital for expanding the prosperous mining town bearing his name. At least that’s what the socialites and high flyers of London were led to believe for Albertus is nothing more than a con artist. The Baron, as he prefers to be called, lives day to day, lie to lie, driven to bigger and bolder cons by the blood of his infernal ancestors.

The big con fell apart while trying to offload a batch of so-called meteor alloys to an undercover Winnifred. If her ability to reform the lump of metal into cuffs around his hands hadn’t already scared him senseless the fact she described him of smelling faintly of brimstone would have. He’d heard the tales repeatedly as a child, of an ancestor who’d made a deal they couldn’t keep and been possessed by the devil in return. Stories meant to scare children with an inclination to lie to their parents. Now here was this woman who could smell the corruption of his lineage. Perhaps it was a sign to change, to make the biggest con of his life… convincing himself that he could somehow manage to redeem his soul.

Approaches

Disciplines

Forceful d4

Mystic arts d4

Sneaky d6

Covert ops d8

Quick d10

Social engineering d10

Careful d6

Combat & tactics d6

Clever d8

R&D d4

Flashy d8

Faith: 3

Concept: Charming descendant of demons
Trouble: Eternally damned by the sins of my ancestors
Discipline 1: Why lie when you can be creative with the truth
Discipline 2: Debauched darling of high society
Discipline 3: Connoisseur of the five-finger discount

Stunt 1: Because snake oil doesn’t sell itself I gain +2 when I flashily create advantages based on lies, half-truths and pseudo-science gibberish.
Stunt 2: Because demonic essence flows through my veins I roll d8s instead of d6s when rolling demon dice (the DM adds d6s to their pool as normal)
Stunt 3: Because all the best cons require careful planning once per session I may create an aspect with 2 free invocations by describing how I arranged it via a brief flashback

Vulnerability: –

The Undesirables: Winnifred Peakes

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Image copyright JEShields

Nobody asks to be a werewolf, least of all a promising initiate of an ancient magical order. Life tends not to ask though, which is how Winnifred Peakes found herself barricaded into the Chancer’s Hand saloon during a siege that lasted close to a week. Night after night the werewolves breached the barricades, taking with them the townspeople a few at a time. Amongst them was her tutor, the senior Allomancer assigned to begin her training.

Winnifred was critically wounded on the penultimate night of the siege but made a miraculous recovery thanks to the werevirus now cursing through her system. Since the siege she has kept the virus (mostly) in check through magical talent and sheer force of will but it has left its mark, with each wound healing over in vicious scars that take weeks to fully fade.

Leaving the West behind her she travelled to London in search of her Order only to be cast out by the elders who were meant to train her. Without the means to return home it wasn’t long before she crossed paths with the Brotherhood. While the Chapter report listed her only as an independent talent Mina pieced together the data and recruited her into the Undesirables in return for occasional access to the Brotherhoods mystical archives. Winnifred may have forsaken by her Order but all that means is she’ll have to teach herself.

Approaches

Disciplines

Forceful d10

Mystic arts d6

Sneaky d8

Covert ops d8

Quick d8

Social engineering d4

Careful d4

Combat & tactics d10

Clever d6

R&D d4

Flashy d6

Faith: 4

Concept: Werewolf of the Wild West
Trouble: Branded with the scars of my past
Discipline 1: Forsaken initiate of the Iridium Order
Discipline 2: Survivor of the Chancer’s Hand siege
Discipline 3: Barroom brawler with a bite

Stunt 1: Because I am cursed by the werevirus I may clear one minor condition per turn by spending a demon die
Stunt 2: Because I can smell danger I get +2 to quickly overcome traps and ambushes
Stunt 3: Because I ain’t from around these parts once per session I may effortlessly distract an unsuspecting individual by playing into the stereotypes associated with the Wild West

Vulnerability: Because my pain only makes the beast stronger if I take a moderate or severe condition I must make a Forceful + Mystic arts roll (difficulty 10) to prevent myself from releasing the animal inside. If I fail I clear all my conditions, treat everybody as an enemy and must fight until an opportunity to escape presents itself.

The Undesirables: Mr Clink

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Image copyright JEShield

The shadows came for Joseph when he was only a child, one of the many children at the workhouse that hadn’t been expected to last the winter. Instead of taking his soul to the other side the darkness lay almost dormant, carrying him through one winter after another. As he grew so did the shadow, intertwining with his soul little by little until they were one and the same. Light and dark became something else, something that could only exist in the transition between the two.

That was where Mina found the man who had taken the name of Mr Clink, in the bustling shadows of London, trying to find a semblance of balance. Living on the edge has shown him the truths of Victorian society, of uncontrolled greed and morals forgotten at the drop of a hat. He fights it in the only way he knows how, with darkness and unrestrained violence. His soul is already damned, so maybe the ends will justify the means.

Approaches Disciplines
Forceful d8 Mystic arts d4
Sneaky d10 Covert ops d4
Quick d6 Social engineering d6
Careful d8 Combat & tactics d8
Clever d4 R&D d4
Flashy d6 Fringe: Shadowbound 10

Faith: 3

Concept: Shadowbound drifter
Trouble: Slowly succumbing to the darkness within
Discipline 1: Raised by the streets
Discipline 2: The ends justify the means
Discipline 3: They can’t fight what they don’t see coming

Stunt 1: Because my shadow has hands too I gain +2 when I forcefully create advantages by grappling with foes in close combat
Stunt 2: Because there are doorways in the darkness I can step between any two shadows I can see once per scene for the cost of 1 demon die
Stunt 3: Because I choose not to hold back my anger once per scene if I create the aspect “Wide open to attack” against myself I gain +4 to forcefully attack in close combat.

Vulnerability: –