Skip to main content


Save the Universe: Next Steps

After running 19 sessions of Save the Universe, including private and convention sessions, and receiving feedback from folks who have either read or played Save the Universe on their own, I feel ready to declare the rules complete. The manuscript itself could use some polish, but I'm ready to move out of the playtesting phase and into...

Well. That's the question, isn't it?
The up-front costs of publishing a professional-quality RPG, including editing, layout, and art, are out of my reach. That leaves three publishing options:

First: Do it myself, with zero dollars. I'm sure I could produce a legible PDF with open-license fonts and graphics. With time and study I could work out a semi-legible layout, and I could self-edit the text to at least make sure it's somewhat coherent. The result would be...fine. Acceptable. Playable. And from a certain point of view, that's the goal, right? To get the game out there where people can play it?

(To be clear, there's re…
Recent posts

May 2018 Update

This month's word appears to be "editing."
I received a big pile of valuable feedback on Save the Universe from the Games on Trial group on Google+, and I'm slowly working my way through it. I was hoping the test readers could call out any lack of clarity in my manuscript, and boy, did they ever. The good news is that my revisions should cut out some unnecessary junk and should provide clearer instructions for GMs and players.

I've also finished the fourth draft of City of Crystal. I'm letting the manuscript cool off before I go back to straighten out all the typos and awkward language. I think the plot is final, and based on Mary Lynn's first read-through, it's basically coherent, so I'm hoping the fifth draft will be the last.

I'm toying with a few other gaming projects as I see opportunities to make headway:

Mocha Mechas, my hypothetical game about baristas using mobile armored caf├ęs to fight giant monsters, is still just a pitch in search o…

April 2018 Update

I haven't given a proper update in a while, and I'd like to start with this: If you'd like to play Save the Universe with your group, let me know and I'll send you the latest draft. My Facebook and Twitter links are in the upper right corner of the blog, or you can leave a comment below. If you like sci-fi adventure, world-building, and rules-light story-focused roleplaying games, you might like Save the Universe. The game is close to complete, but I'm still looking for playtest feedback, and I'd love to hear what you think.

I brought Save the Universe to the Marmalade Dog gaming convention last month and I had the opportunity to enjoy the game with some great players. I've also received valuable feedback from GMs who have been kind enough to run Save the Universe at their own tables. I have a couple of recent design changes to test and observe, but if everything works out, I could be close to locking down the rules and moving toward editing and layout.


Save the Universe: Actual Play at Marmalade Dog

I had the opportunity to run two sessions of Save the Universe at Marmalade Dog this past weekend, and my Friday night players suggested that I should write up an actual play report. So here's that report, and I apologize to my valiant players if I've remembered anything incorrectly.
In a faraway star system, the Institute of the Moon governs its subject planets with lies and guile. From their Golden Palace, the leaders of the Institute send secret police agents to identify and eliminate anyone who dares complain about the Institute's tyranny. Meanwhile, the Institute's scientists refine their control over a strange force they call the Umbra, refining their tools and techniques so they can use the Umbra to steal energy from nearby stars to eternally sustain the Institute's domain.

But the Institute's control is not absolute. Decades ago, a cargo transport pilot crash-landed in a remote location on one of the Institute's many planets, and upon emerging from …

Heroic Bonds for 7th Sea

These are an optional feature for your 7th Sea Second Edition character. A bond represents a strong connection between two Heroes, either due to past history or present circumstances. We associate each type of bond with a Sorte Arcana card, to show how the strands of fate tie the Heroes together.
If you’d like to create a bond, choose another player and discuss how your characters might be connected, and then agree on an appropriate bond. The bonds can inspire either positive or negative behavior, depending on how your Heroes perceive the relationship and the situation. When you create the bond, decide what your Heroes feel about one another, and allow these opinions to change over time as your relationship evolves.

In the game, bonds function like Quirks, and give you the opportunity to earn Hero Points for acting in character. Note that the description of every bond includes the words “when you risk trouble.” When you choose to play out your bond, you only earn a Hero Point if it’s …

My "Pay What You Want" Experiment

On January 31, I published The Six Silent Circles on DriveThruRPG as a Pay What You Want (PWYW) title, and I switched my previously-published title The Ninth Eye to PWYW. I did this for two reasons:
I've been hearing folks in the industry discuss ways of making the hobby more accessible, particularly for people without much disposable income.I don't depend on revenue from these titles for my livelihood. I wrote these for fun and to share them with the community, and I use the money I earn to buy myself a new RPG once in a while. In case this information is useful to anyone, here are my results from the month of February 2018: I saw 28 downloads of The Ninth Eye. I listed the suggested price for this title as $3.99 (US dollars), and if everyone had paid this price, the gross revenue would have been $111.72. Instead, downloaders paid a total of $14.09, and since I get half of that, my cut was $7.05.I saw 63 downloads of The Six Silent Circles. I listed the suggested price here as …

Stop Saying "Broken"

Fellow roleplayers: please stop using the word "broken" to describe a game rule when you actually mean "I don't like it."
Recently I came across a long message board post in which the author asserted that 7th Sea Second Edition's combat system was "broken" and then went on for several paragraphs explaining that the rules were heavily narrative-oriented and story-oriented.

Where this particular game is concerned, these observations mean the game is working as designed.

If someone says a rule is "broken" I expect to see a mathematical or logical error that prevents the rule from working at all. Here's an example:

Your Constitution score ranges from +5 (tough) to -2 (frail). When you receive an injury, divide the injury points you receive by your Constitution score and round down, and subtract the result from your Health score.

This rule works fine for durable characters, but fails mathematically if your Constitution is zero or less. Thi…