Tag Archives: Writing

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.


CSI: Cryptid Scene Investigation

I’m going to add an ‘official’ Knightwatch guide to the Print on Demand edition. Here’s the first draft, provided for your review. Any thoughts?

  1. Arrive at Scene. Obtain a situation summary from Watch officer in charge. If Watchmen have not already secured the scene, perform reconnaissance to clear and secure the scene. If possible, wait until Watchmen have secured the scene from unauthorized persons before entering. Use the route least likely to disturb any evidence.
  2. Notify Command. Send any requests for assistance (e.g., Watchmen, medical examiner, criminalistics) to M.E.R.L.I.N. to be processed on your behalf.cover_Page_192_cropped
  3. Jurisdiction. When you need to operate within a district, neighborhood, or property not under Watchman jurisdiction (subscription services), be aware that search and seizure problems exist. Where possible, notify command to obtain a temporary inter-corporate contract or warrant before entering the scene. Without this permission, and if confronted by an official representative from another PMSC, notify command of the rep’s name and contact information; a Valyant legal representative will reach out directly to resolve jurisdiction.
  4. Living Cryptid. Attempt to contain. Flex-cuffs and paracord should be able to restrain most mutated humans. If the cryptid is active and hostile, combat is authorized. Wound the cryptid until it cannot retaliate and can be restrained. Liquidate cryptids only after containment fails. A Watch officer will transfer the cryptid to the Keep observation facilities.
  5. Living Victim. Perform or summon medical aid. Attempt to obtain the name of the assailant; otherwise, commence to obtain ID from description (sex, race, height, hair/eye color, clothing, etc.). Also attempt to determine the victim’s PMSC provider. If the victim is unconscious, ensure that a Watchman remains with the victim to note any declarations made during periods of consciousness.
  6. Removal of Cryptid or Victim from Scene. First, use HUD to photograph and record the individual’s position. Record the collection of any physical evidence from the individual.
  7. Witnesses. Canvass the area. Obtain names and contact information, plus a brief statement. Hold witnesses until the arrival of Watchman investigators, keeping them separate to prevent collusion. Be vigilant – witnesses may be involved.
  8. Process Scene. Call trained Watch investigators to process the scene. When not possible, photograph and record the scene and adjoining/adjacent areas from all angles. Examine the scene for physical evidence, marking and visually recording the location of objects found such as footprints, ectoplasm, fragments of cloth, bloodstains, magical residue, tool marks, etc. Preserve each item of evidence in separate correct containers.
  9. Evidence Processing. Contact morgue or lab to request tests on persons and objects (cause of death, presence of Flux, etc.). Watch detectives and investigators will process reports (initial, follow-up, evidence), witness statements, cryptid statements, and background on cryptid and involved individuals (name, home, relatives, friends, employment, finances, possible criminal activities, possible romantic involvements, possible use of narcotics, gang involvement). M.E.R.L.I.N. will deliver to your HUD as they become available.
  10. Investigation. Act on information provided by evidence. Determine actions of cryptid (day, weeks, or months; depending on circumstances) before the initial scene, including motive. Consider motives such as: sex, theft, narcotics, mental and/or Flux derangement. Question everyone thoroughly. Do not disclose valuable information to unauthorized persons. Give constant attention to the presence of any other PMSCs involved.
  11. Assault/Infiltration. Some investigations may lead to a greater threat. Return to Step 1 and repeat until mission is closed.
  12. Disinformation Report (Journo). Provide a brief, concise summary of the operative case facts, without verbatim recital of witnesses statements. Fictionalize accounts of Flux-based incidents, replacing magic with science and mundanity, and submit to media.


MASHED: Roleplaying Korean War medics

mashed draft title page

draft title page

Here’s a sneak peek at the draft title page (this is not the cover) for my new project! It’s an idea that I’ve had in mind for a while, but until I got familiar with the Apocalypse World engine, I didn’t really have a good game system to do it with. Also, the last couple of years have been really busy with finishing up all the goals from the Corporia Kickstarter, and my brain needs a break. Of course, I might still publish a Corporia adventure or something else simultaneously, but MASHED is my focus for the moment.

As you might guess from the (working) title, the theme of the game is the lives of doctors in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, set in the Korean War. Gameplay and moves are also inspired by Apocalypse World and Night Witches, but with opportunities for both humorous situations as well as lots of drama. The game will be based directly on the real-world MASH units in the Korean War, including the one that inspired a certain S*H*O*W that you’re probably already familiar with. If you want to use MASHED to run situations from the show, you can. So, it will work with the media, but won’t be based on it or licensed from it.

For stats, my draft notes use +skill, +nerve, +luck, and +fight, with points distributed depending on your rank (Lieutenant, Captain, or Major). There are four character temperaments (Head, Heart, Bones, and “Blood and Guts”), and several roles within them (Casanova, Prankster, Scrounger, Cutter, Mentor, Bully, and Stickler). Stress and burnout will be particularly important parts of moves and such.

Right now I’m still fiddling with these, as well as some other ideas about how mobile the MASH will be, and how/whether I use “Rotation Points” as a means of allowing characters to get leave or go home. Although real MASH doctors didn’t get rotation points like the regular army did, I’m willing to bend reality where I need to service the fiction. That’s one of my main rules concepts that I’m still having trouble with.

I’d love to get your thoughts on the points system or anything you think might work well (or be a problem) for the game. I’ve started a thread on the barf forth apocalyptica forums if you’d like to contribute there.

First Thoughts on Fate Core

Some of you may be looking at the title of this post and thinking ‘what took you so long?’cover fate After all, versions of the Fate RPG have been around for years and – according to a recent Examiner article – is currently the 5th most popular RPG around.

Well, it’s not like I’ve never heard of Fate before. I’ve thumbed through it occasionally over the years, but just couldn’t get a good handle on the rules. Possibly this is because I come from a dice-heavy as opposed to narrative/story-heavy gaming background, or possibly because I find the rulebook’s layout confusing.

There seem to be a lot of undefined terms or new terms for the sake of new terms (effort, magnitude, shifts…) and concepts thrown at me in the wrong order. I took me lots of internet and book searching to determine whether the term ‘effort’ means your dice roll + skill rank, or just the dice roll alone. Also, I quickly understood how the skills work, but had trouble finding the section that tells me how many skills a new character gets. That kind of thing. Maybe this would have been easier with a print book instead of trying to read it online; I’m not sure. Or maybe it’s just me.

I find it interesting that so much of what I’ve read from players online, and in the early pages of the book, weighs heavily on ‘aspects’. In the designer notes that I’ve read, however, there seems to be a preferred focus on each part of the rules as having equal weight, with aspects being no more important than the rest of the ruleset. Maybe that’s an incorrect interpretation. What do you think?

I’m toying around with ideas for a Fate conversion of Corporia, and if I follow through on that, then I think I’m going to stick with that interpretation. I feel like a minor change in the order of how the rules are presented may make it easier for the dice-heavy player to latch on to. We’ll see how it goes.

Any thoughts?

What I’ve Been Writing – and Where I’m Going

Agents of Change final coverWith the release of the Agents of Change expansion for Corporia (now available on DriveThruRPG), I’ve wrapped up all the stretch goals for the Kickstarter. It was an intense experience, and I’m glad to now have some time to relax without any deadlines hanging over my head. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t fall behind on any of the announced deadlines – only a few personal deadlines that I’d set for myself.

In the midst of that, I also took the time to write a stretch goal adventure (case) and do lots of editing for Fearlight Games’ Baker Street RPG. That’s now on DriveThruRPG as well – though the cases will come in a separate release. If you’re a gamer and a Sherlockian, be sure to check it out. Note that it does use special dice – I’m guessing those will be available direct from Fearlight.

For upcoming projects, I’ve got several things in mind:

  • a 1 to 2-page free summary of the GRAIL system, to encourage its adoption; I really think it has some mass reach potential
  • Corporia mini-adventures, with a twist on the production and layout
  • a text only edition of Corporia for Kindle and ePub readers
  • occasional free playtesting downloads for rules that might make their way into future books and editions
  • Corporia setting supplements
  • Fate and/or Savage Worlds conversions of Corporia
  • a completely new system involving dice – but not in the way you think (more on this later, if it comes to anything)

The big question is where I’ll find the time for it, considering I have maybe an hour each day that’s not devoted to my day job, my family, or sleeping.

At least blogs don’t take much time to write, so I’m hoping to get back on track for that. I’ve love to be able to have a reliably weekly blog, if possible. I’ve been thinking about my experiences over the last decade and a half in the gaming industry, and I probably have some decent stories and advice to share, if I can cull my memory for them. So, there’s that.

Okay, time to wrap up for today. I have a ringing in my ears and it’s either the doorbell or the oncoming storm.

Corporia: Boomerang statistics

Here’s a first look at the draft text for the boomerang, a new item to appear in the next supplement. Let me know if you have any comments!boomerang

Skill Rank: 4

Price: $60

Base Range: throw

ROF: 1

Damage: STR

Reload Die: n/a

Thanks to the latest in high-tech composite materials, the three-wing XXXXX-brand boomerang maintains the range of similar sport boomerangs and the striking power of the traditional aboriginal hunting weapon. This item is primarily designed for tactical scenarios versus AUTAC security devices, though a good throw can also temporarily hobble a flesh-and-blood opponent. Color options vary widely, and glow-in-the-dark variants containing LEDs or long-life cyalume are also available for easy nighttime tracking and retrieval.

The thrower must declare (before throwing) whether he intends to strike a particular target (in which case the boomerang does not return) or throw the boomerang and have it return to him without striking a target. The latter can be useful in order to (for example) cause a distraction or to activate a motion-sensitive alarm. If the throwing Attack succeeds (see 4.2.4 | Ranged Weapon Basics: Throwing, in the core rulebook), the boomerang strikes or returns as previously declared. Failed throws leave the thrower’s grip but do not strike the target or return to the thrower (for the direction of a failed throw, see also section 4.2.4). A returning boomerang comes back to the thrower within 1 round (in time for his next Attack roll; barring a Director ruling otherwise). Again, note that a boomerang only returns on a successful Attack roll where it does not strike a target or is not itself struck or held by an opponent or other force.

A target struck by a boomerang must succeed at a [MTL + WIT] check versus a TN equal to 7 + the amount of damage inflicted, or lose its next action. If the boomerang’s damage result exceeds the target’s MTL, the target suffers one wound as normal.


Corporia – new archetypes and Assets

Wow – I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last post! Time really has flown by lately.

If you’re following my home renovation blog, you can see what I’ve been doing there. As for Corporia, I’ve been slowly but surely creating new rules and material for the next supplement. I didn’t expect it to take as long as it has, but there are a few things that I really wanted to include, and those are taking a surprising amount of brainpower. So if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know!

For example, and as you may have read here in August, I wanted to add nearly two dozen new pistols. Instead, I’m adding nine specialty pistols spread over three categories (light, medium, and heavy). Barring any last-minute changes, those are completely written.

In addition to the pistols and other equipment, I also plan to add some new character archetypes. One prominent one I’ve been pondering is (was?) an ‘urban druid’ type, but it’s difficult to find powers/spells to give this archetype, since the existing spell disciplines cover a great deal of what this archetype would typically be able to do. Thus, it may not even appear in the next supplement, but in some other supplement (or stand-alone) later on. The same goes for the other magical archetypes I’ve been thinking about: the ‘cleric’ and the ‘vodoun.’

Two other archetypes that are 90%+ written are the Fringer (a sort of homeless ronin) and the Moppet (a kid/preteen). Again, I’m running into problems because each archetype has its own unique or discounted (rule-based) Asset, and the core book already covers so much of the existing and potential rules that it’s been hard to find something to add. I’m not sure if the other three archetypes still in my head – the ‘senior citizen’, ‘delusional superhero’ and ‘socialite’ – will make it onto the pages. At worst, they’ll be replaced by something else.

On a related note, I noticed last week that the Corporia RPG rulebook has reachedsilver seller the silver ‘Best Seller’ status on DriveThruRPG. Considering that it only released a few month ago to a limited audience, I’m quite pleased with that!

Okay, time to sign off. Remember, if you have any suggestions for the above rules, or ideas for something I haven’t mentioned, please let me know!