August 28, 2009

Squirrel Attack! the Dice Game Version 2.1

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 8:25 pm

Here is an update with Linda’s edits. Again, if you want to try it out that would be most appreciated.

Squirrel Attack! the Dice Game V2.1


August 26, 2009

Squrrel Attack! the Dice Game Rough Draft

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 12:43 am

Well, here is a rough draft and I do mean a ROUGH draft of the SA! TDG rules. If you have a chance, look them over. If you have 8 d6 and a buddy who wants to try it out, have at it. Linda and I have been going crazy with it. Lots of fun so far.

Any feedback is much appreciated!



August 22, 2009

ACD Game Day

Filed under: Business — bilbo @ 10:51 am

So, we passed on GenCon to go to ACD Open House (the official name but then most folks also call it ACD Game Day). Some things we are finding out in the planning.

  • There is only one day with a 6 hour exhibition hall.
  • There is about three times the amount of gaming time set aside.
  • There is an equal time set aside for Round tables.
  • Other distributors can exhibit.
  • Only retailers are attendees, not the public.

These points make it a good show to attend if you are in the three tier distribution system. Many folks forget that retailers are often gamers. There entire choice is not made on play experience but it can help persuade them. With that in mind, I am putting at least as much effort into game prep as I am the booth presentation.

Why are we doing this? We hope to bring up our presence in the three tier channel and showcase our partnership with ACD. We had a larger presence in the past ad I believe we can have a larger one than even before. The reason here is distribution can offer a lot of quantity for little effort and expense. Sure, I make closer to 85% in direct sales than the 40% I do through distribution but I also sell 20-30 times as much product in a single go and have far less overhead. So, ACD Game Day makes a lot of sense for us.

I will take notes and pictures and share them after the Open House in September. It will be held at ACDs warehouse in Madison.

August 18, 2009

To Rule or Not To Rule

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 1:44 am

Once again, Clash my good buddy discusses something on his blog that gets me thinking. He addresses a specific of character immunity in the name of genre emulation. I disagree but then I am more a setting guy. Yeah, you would think I would be all behind the idea of a setting driven rule but it really bugs me. Note: that does not mean I think it is somehow inherently “wrong” but more a case of “not for me or my games”.

See, in the bigger sense I am opposed tot he idea that players have one set of rules and everyone else has another. It is seductive,l do not get me wrong, to say, as a designer, that you are emulating a genre. The problem is, you are emulating your idea of that genre and foisting it on the players. This is something I would much rather see dealt with at the group or play level. Call it GM fiat if you like, I prefer the idea that you have given the GM and players the tools to do the job…the way they wish to.

Let’s take an example to make it clear. Say you are playing in WWII. The Systemic approach says a rule must exist in order to ensure that the emulation of the designers favorite stories is maintained. So, you get a rule that says “Palyers will never be killed by indirect fire”. In other words, things like artillery fire, random bullets flying across the battle field and stepping on a land mine. You death will be heroic and on your terms as the player of the character. I can see so many problems with such a rule that it makes for nightmares. Immortal GIs marching out into arti fire, heck, calling down friendly artillery on thier position. There is a meme that is utterly disarmed with this kind of rule. The tension that you would see int he faces of the soldier in WWII movies when they were being over run and the sarge calls down artillery fire on their position. Everyone’s scared. Tension builds and maybe Tex buys the farm. Not so int his kind of set up but by golly, your death will have meaning.

Now, looking at the GM Fiat approach we basically do not have much to discuss. It would go like this “Gee, I think it would suck to die fro arti fire before I even make it to the adventure”. The GM looks to the group “So, you guys go through a couple of scary battles but somehow survive. The LT shows up and says it is your lucky day, he has a mission for you…”. The neat thing about not have it systemically coded into the rules is that no one has to feel you are “dropping rules” or “not playing the game right”. Here, it really is up to the group. The designer is not saying “Here is my vision, do it this way or you do it wrong”.

So, how do we do this then without making rules? Well, simply enough, you show them, not tell them about the genre. You give play examples, you offer pregenned characters, you offer advice but in the end, if their view of a WWII movie is Saving Private Ryan as opposed to Baa Baa Black Sheep, they can decide for themselves the level of detail.

Again, I feel the need since I got kind of strong language going there the need to point out that this is just my philosophy on game design. It is not empirically right or wrong, it is much int he eye of the beholder. I lament that it seems folks miss one of the great wonders of our hobby with an often strong dedication to rules as written. It is a great thing of our hobby, perhaps of the past versions of our hobby, that you would almost never run a game as written. You would tweak and massage the rules until they did what you wanted them to. Far too often nowadays, it seems I here people saying they need a rule to tell them this or a rule to tell them that and if it is not there, well, then the game is broken because it does not emulate the genre properly.

Or, I am just getting too old to write RPGs. 😉

August 15, 2009

This is how I can do better

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 10:22 pm

The following is how I deal with the whole OOP thing and an example of how I can do better than when TOG first came out.
Original Cover
TOG Original Cover

New Version
New TOG Cover

I am still working on the new cover…at least until Linda finds out. 😉

August 14, 2009

Setting Tools

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 12:55 pm

So, clash over on the I Fly By Night blog seems to think there are not tools for setting customization. I objected and it seemed only fair that I lay some out. Most of these tools are in the writer/designers tool box but they provide the manufactured element to the GM/Group to use as they see fit.

First and foremost is the hook. Embedding hooks is important and a craft all itself. It is not breadth or depth but more opportunity. It must be set up as the writer approaches the hook. This means that if you are going to have open ended raider hunts going on you need more. To say “There are raiders in the Pass of Bigscary” is not a complete tool. It is like say “You roll some dice to resolve combat” in the sense of system. In setting hooks, we need to have the depth (yes, to use one of Clash’s words) to understand Bigscary, allow the GM and players to understand the raider’s motivations and most importantly, extend from that. The sad thing is, if done right, this tool will be over looked as “Really cool” or “Wow, for some reason I can really see a character/adventure from Bigscary”.

Second we have open settings. Simple approaches to settings have as much defined as the writer can do. This is a natural reaction and one that most setting designers either learn explicitly to overcome or implicitly learn to ignore. By open settings it is more than just ignoring an area ont he map. You must incorporate Mystery with Innuendo in a manner that sparks the imagination. However, a sub-tool for this would be the Glossed over. In the former, Mystery takes the form of a rumor of a new world, or the Bigscary that none return from. In this case, there is little to know, little to nail it down. However, as a designer you need to define that which is useful, seeds if you will, that will bear the fruit of an adventure or a detailed area within the setting. Not one that is shoehorned but one well fit but highly personalized to the GM/Group. The glossed over, by contrast, is factual. It is laced with rumor and may use Innuendo but is based on on the Bigscary being a land unknown from which no one returns but instead a land blasted by magic and left barren but between two rich kingdoms that trade. They must travel between the two and, if asked, the merchants will tell you in great detail the area around the road but little is known of the lands beyond.

Finally, there are Open Elements. Much like Open Settings, you have the elements of Mystery and Glossed over. However, we add an explicitly extensible to the list. As with Setting, Elements can be a Mystery;i.e. the wicked witch who lives in the tower on the edge of Bigscary. Also, the Glossed Over Element allowing for the GM to detail as needed or desired;i.e. A witch that lives ont he edge of Bigscary often trades with the merchants who pass by. It is believed she is nefarious and has the worst intentions for those passing by despite her extreme beauty. However, Extensible Elements are purposely set to be added to. A city is often the form you see this in but using this tool with other elements often serves the writer well. Extensible elements are one part well defined and one part form know, shape ambiguous. For instance, you have the Bigscary Tavern. It is well defined with the owner described in detail, regulars defined, services offered, what is likely to be available and so on. However, the Egyptian Quarter is either Glossed Over or Innuendo (no outsider goes there or wants to talk about it to strangers). Here, it is known that there are several Taverns but nothing for certain except for the Pharoh’s Nest, a place of ill repute that is known to serve to the less reputable int he city. You travel at your own peril.

Now, you may not call those tools but I really do. I use them as tools to make settings better. To forge ideas. There are other tools that I use but the above are the biggies. The problem is, that many times, when someone talks about tools they think of systemic tools. You need a table or a mechanic to roll out what is in the city. This is true, that you can have setting tools that are systemic, but there is also the tools that you provide as a designer that are more subtle but, I dare say, no less critical.

August 13, 2009

Putting one of my babies OOP

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 8:09 pm

You know, when I woke up this morning, I did not think it would affect me that much. I had filled an order for ACD and they took the last of my Tales of Gaea. At that point, talking it over with Linda, we agreed it should go out of print as sales on a 7 year old fantasy game is not necessarily that big. Mind, it still sells a few copies a month but not enough to warrant reprinting it. Still, I thought I would zip Tom at ACD a quick email despite him being at GenCon and let him know the order shipped and to list Tales as OOS pending an OOP status.

Wow, i was surprised to find myself a bit saddened to have to do this with my first title. Sure, I could keep it going in POD (it is setup on LSI already) but it is just not worth it to carry even a small stock. It does not turn fast enough. I am considering putting it up on LULU at a “no cost to us, cleaner 1.5 version”. Of course it will always be up as a PDF but…it was my first.

On the plus side, it makes me wonder if I should do a Iridium V2 version of ToG. Linda thinks I am crazy but we will see. You can always use another fantasy RPG. 😉

August 12, 2009

Squirrels at GenCon!

Filed under: Press — bilbo @ 8:10 pm

Come on over to Booth 709 and check out the Squirrel Attack RPG. Expeditious Retreat Press have ample supplies of Squirrel Dice and all your favorite Squirrel Attack! supplements like Shaolin Squirrels : Nuts of Fury, Squirrels Ahoy : Squirrels of the Sainish Main and Squirrels In Space : The Squirrel Cage.

Squirrel Attack! uses the Iridium Lite RPG Engine available for free download and as an Open System. For more information on HinterWelt Enterprises and Squirrel Attack! please visit our site.

Have a great GenCon!

New Squirrel Attack Dice Design

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 10:30 am

New Squirrel Attack design…

Dice 1

Dice 2

August 11, 2009

ASMBE Dice Prototype

Filed under: Games — bilbo @ 10:06 pm


It is hard to see but the dice is actually gold and green. I think it is kind of striking.

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