Category Archives: Publishing

The MASHED RPG is now in open playtest

As you may have seen if you’re following me on social media, I’ve finally posted the open playtest PDF for the MASHED RPG! I’ve been working on it for a year, off and on in my spare time, and I MASHED_playtest_v160424_coverthink it turned out pretty well. I intend to run a Kickstarter a few months down the road, but right now I want to spend at least 2-3 months playtesting. I’d like all the playtest comments to go in my new MASHED RPG group on Google+, if you have any, but you can also get me on Facebook and twitter as well.

If you’d like to check it out, you can get the PDF via direct download from Dropbox or on DriveThruRPG. It’s free, of course.

What It Is

MASHED is a story game that you play with your friends. It’s a game that’s based more on conversations than on rolling dice—though you’ll use those too. Everything that you say crafts an ongoing narrative, like a stage play where everyone’s ad-libbing their lines. The rules and dice are there to help this along, adding an element of randomness that lets you succeed in what you want to do—but also ensuring that that there will be consequences and complications, especially when you fail. After all, war is hell.

You take on the role of an Army Medical Corps nurse, physician, or corpsman assigned to the 8099th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in South Korea. It is the summer of 1951, one year after the United Nations’ entry into the “police action” that will later be called the Korean War. It’s a game about medics whose government sent them to a foreign land with little to no military training. It’s about men and women who spent their working hours cutting, sawing, snipping, and sewing up human bodies, sometimes those of their friends—and were expected to stay sane.

This is a game about the value of human life and the stress that war imposes on those who live through it—but it’s also about relationships. And courage. And laughter. And love. Although the medics may spend hours—even days—in the operating tent, the game abstracts these into much shorter scenes, focusing on the most dramatic moments. Most of the conversation actually occurs outside of surgery, in those times when the flow of casualties has ebbed. Here you may fall in or out of love, fight the orders of ineffective top brass, pull pranks, help the South Koreans, pick fights, seduce your way through the unit, pull rank, and more. If you can find ways to blow off the stresses of surgery and war, you might get rotated home with your sanity intact. Just remember
that you’re practicing medicine in a combat zone—and death isn’t confined to the operating tent.

RPG Design: converting Corporia to Print-On-Demand

Because I only have a couple dozen copies of the limited edition Corporia hardcover on hand, and there’s a demand for bundled print+PDF copies on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow, I’ve decided to add a Print-On-Demand edition to those store pages and update the PDF.

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The new POD title page

However, this isn’t as easy as clicking a few boxes and turning a ‘print’ option on. First and most complicated, I have to adjust the page trim sizes from 6.75″ x 10.125″ to 7″ x 10″, and the cover has to be similarly resized. That means that all the text and art has to shift just a tiny bit, so I had to go through each page and make sure everything reflowed properly.

Second, the printer requires a blank page at the end of the book for their own internal barcode – and since they require that the total book pages be divisible by four, I have to either delete one page of content or add four more. Naturally, I’m going to add three more. I’ve dropped in three advertisements (at the back of the book) for Corporia supplements as placeholders, but my plan is to replace these with new Director/GM and player templates and guides, which will also be released for free online for everyone who has the Kickstarter hardcover. This means that I won’t be finished with the conversion as quickly as I’d liked, but I think it’ll be a better product.

Of course, I’m also taking this opportunity to fix any typos or rules mechanics errors that slipped by, and to update or replace some of the art and graphic design elements. For instance, I’m updating the background and images on the “The Story So Far” section so it flows better with the rest of the book, and it won’t switch from a modern design to a faux-handwritten journal style. The text in this section won’t change significantly; it will just have a different look and feel that still uses some of the same art. You can see the title page to the left above, and below are some samples of the (before and after) work in progress. What do you think?

 

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BEFORE (left) and AFTER (right) – click image to enlarge

The Infinite Flashpoint Convergence of New 52 Secret Wars (A Rant)

The last issue (#8) of DC Comics’ Convergence series releases today, and… I couldn’t care less. It’s quite possibly the worst ‘summer event’ line that I’ve ever read, and I’ve read almost all of them. Almost every issue (and I’m including the various two-parters as well as the main book) suffers the ultimate crimes of being boring and/or confusing to the point of utter incomprehensibility. Sadly, I don’t have much greater expectations for Marvel’s currently ongoing Secret Wars event, based on what I’ve read so far, even though I usually enjoy Jonathan Hickman’s work. It may just be that I’m tired of the whole ‘throw a bunch of heroes together and make them fight’ concept. Also, as has been said elsewhere, “The main thrust of the story is simple enough, but you may have to consult a wiki to fill in most of these blanks.” It’s not easy to jump in.

Convergence

Convergence

It’s not that I’m biased against the ‘Big Two’. Over the years, I’ve been alternately (and sometimes together) a Marvel zombie and/or a DC fanboy. Even now, both companies still manage to produce a handful of great series that are creator-driven (like Astro City or Powers) and corporate-owned (such as Hawkeye and Thor), though the latter seem more like happy accidents of putting a solid writer (or writers) together with a good art team – rather than any kind of actual editorial direction from on high.

Looking over my current reading list, I’m slightly surprised to see how many great titles are being produced by Image Comics, a company once famous more for their adolescent-appealing artists rather than the stories, as they churned out their own ‘variations’ (aka inspirations aka ripoffs) of Marvel and DC characters. Birthright, Bitch Planet, Chrononauts, Jupiter’s Legacy, Saga, Sex Criminals, the Walking Dead, and many other good to great series are a testament to what a comic company can do when they focus on just providing interesting series, rather than being enslaved to continuity and a shared universe.

So. That’s my rant for the day. What do you think?

edit: I’ve gone back in and added hyperlinks to various reviews on other sites that match my own thoughts

Corporia: eBooks and a free city map

Based purely on a quick browse through the internet, it doesn’t seem that the ebook format (typically, epub and mobi) are e-bookpopular formats for role-playing games. I suspect this is primarily because of the extra work involved for the publisher, since converting a graphics and chart-heavy format to an essentially ‘text-only’ format isn’t the easiest job in the world. The ebook is also a fairly new technology, and most tablets can handle the PDF format that’s so common among the RPG community now.

That being said, I’ve decided to convert the Corporia RPG both to mobi and epub format, for Kindles and other tablets respectively. The charts and tables have been simplified to a mostly line-item format, and will appear as close as possible to their original locations in the text. Where possible, both will be bundled free with the PDF wherever that digital edition is sold online (such as DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and Indie Press Revolution), as well as being sold separately. I hope to release them later this month, and will certainly mention it here when I do. (Citizen-level and higher Kickstarter backers will, of course, get the variant editions for free, since “future-proofing” was one of the stretch goals.)

I’ve also released the City Districts map (page 132 of the core rulebook) as a free visual aid, since it won’t be included in the ebook. That’s free to anyone who wants to download it, whether you’ve purchased the other products or not. You can currently download it on DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and on the Brabblemark Press website. Enjoy!