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Seven Sins of RPG Writing

The Seven Deadly Sins of RPG Writing All these sins are relative. For example, you might find a system is your jam that I found unusable due to complexity. All of them can and should have exceptions.  Overly Complex: as an example, take combat. You're usually talking a hit roll and a damage roll. If you're making separate rolls to account for parries, dodging, hit location, weapon malfunctions, blood loss, and shock, your system may be too complex. Generally, it's better to start simple and build on it later.  Too Much Fluff: there is crunch and there is fluff. This is a very personal matter, but the game you are writing is the product. If I have to slog through a 30 page cut scene before I get to the meat of the system, I get a little peevish. Honestly write flash fiction to scratch that authorial itch.  Again this varies a lot with people. Too Lite: Some games are written to be lite. Everything Needs Is On This Page is a movement. Putting the entire game on one page, is m

Murder Hobos in Spaaace!

 First of all saying 'in Spaaace!' doesn't make something cool.  Secondly, I was a murder hobo when I started out. Too much D&D at a young age (was I ever that young? Apparently.) Thirdly, if you're having fun you're doing it right. If murder hobos are the style of play your table likes and you're good with it, murder the Galaxy for all I care.  Lastly, before someone takes offense at the term as others do: a hobo is a migrant worker. They mv around finding day jobs to support themselves. I'm not trying to (or even referring to) the homeless. If you still take issue, go read anther blog.  The homicidal free willing style of play worries many referees who don't simply want a hack and shoot game. This was the case for a Traveller game I just heard about (Hi, my Discord friends!). What to do about this? There are a few things. 1. Consequences! You steal a free trader say and leave the crew desperately trying to adapt to vacuum or having been shot full o

Days are Short Part 2: Immortality for All

Immortality for all! Why not? We discuss post scarcity cultures all the time (TNG taught us, it's pretty boring IMO.) Wy not a post-death culture Let's say there is a process that extends human life indefinitely. It won't regenerate lost limbs or cure poisoning.  It will stop the aging process, and make many if not all diseases chronic at worst. What would society be like? Risk assessment might go out the window. When only an accident or violence can end you, you don't want either around. Violent criminals might be sentenced to death -or at least mortality. Mortality might be regarded as a form of punishment in fact. Assault someone and you get aged ten years, murder, fifty years? Simpler and cheaper than a jail. That's assuming immortality is based on a regular dose of something, or it can be reversed.  The salient question. is, how many is all? The entire society? All the upper crust or rulers? How does one figure out who gets the process and defies natural order?

Days are Short etc Part 1

Let's explode a couple popular myths about immortals. They are imposing physical specimens.   Probably not. Go to a museum with a collection of armor. I stand about 5' 7" (170 cm) and first thing I noticed was I'd have a hard time squeezing into most of those suits. The exception was the suit of a king (I forgot who). That dude was at least 6' (183 cm) and must have been imposing as hell. So your immortal character might a petite person (immortal Neanderthals would be a bit shorter but much wider.)  Does your immortality convey regeneration? If not your immortal might show the results of close calls, a missing eye or limb or just be scarred heavily. They might also be a complete mess and a total invalid... waiting for medicine to find a cure. Let's not even get into what gravity could do too a human body after centuries. Eek.  They are filthy rich. Assuming they work a few centuries and manage to bank some of it, it's reasonable to assume they are well off.

Planetpunk

The following is a recycled post, about Diesel and other flavors of punk. Comments in italics.  I like dieselpunk a lot. I want other people to like it. Having said that, the major hurdle is to make it look retro in a way that appeals to people in the Twenty-first Century. That isn't much of a hurdle to be honest. The artwork of the period and the machines have their share of fans. There's a ton of reference images and there is a slew of wild inventions and vehicles documented and photographed. ATM interplanetary travel is neither diesel nor atom punk. As this focusses on interplanetary travel I',m going with Planetpunk!. There are a few problems though, like the Solar System. from what we know of the Solar System it's pretty darned hostile. Earth itself, our home wrold, is pretty darned hostile and can kill you in a number of ways! Consider 90% of the population is crammed into about 25% of the land area. There's a lot of deserts, tundra, and places with bears! If

Good News, Everybody!

  +++Flash+++ Stellagama Publishing and Surreal Estate Games are thrilled to announce their merger, effective as of October 1st, 2022. With our talents and skills combined, we will be able to greatly develop the Quantum Engine, providing a series of excellent supplements and sourcebooks for Cepheus Atom, Barbaric!, Quantum Starfarer, and Lightning League among others! All existing Surreal Estate Games titles will soon be available from Stellagama Publishing, with new layout and trade dress, under the joint logos of both companies. And there are exciting supplements underway! On a personal note, I am thrilled at this merger and introducing more people to my game books and would like to thank Omer Golan-Joel for his generosity. This blog is on hiatus as I run about flailing work towards the merger. Stay tuned!

The Long Arm of the Law

 You've seen it before. Adventurers get into a scrape, raise bloody hell and pile into their ship to never return to the planet they shot up. Traveller and other games portray space travel as expensive, often dangerous. Does it pay to pay Cr 24,000 minimum, Cr 8,000 to send an officer 1 pc, 16,000 to bring him and a prisoner back, to find a culprit and bring them to trial? Would you even send one officer or a pat or a squad? A lot of the time, no. Capital crimes require some pursuit of course, the posting of rewards and such. If the act was done against say organized crime, they might spare no expense for revenge. They have a reputation to keep. Crimes resulting in damages are easy to account for. You pass the cost onto the next ship to pass through. Make them pay with fines and fees for security checks on crew.  Most traders do not want to put up with this crap. Worse, giving off worlders a bad name might taint all traders and interfere with trade. This is especially true when the