It took a while because it had some issues, but I got a POD book version of Angel Project all set up, so I’ll be sending you a discount code if you’d like to get a physical copy through DriveThruRPG.
The Dungeon Zone
Right now, I nearly done with The Dungeon Zone. Like Angel Project, it’s been kind of sitting on my hard drive waiting to get finished up, and it’ll likely be my next Patreon release assuming I can get it over the finish line without undue delay.
The Dungeon Zone is a weird game to be sure. It’s a tongue in cheek celebration of the weirdness of D&D both as a work and as an activity. You create both gamers who are sitting down to play D&D (or a non-trademarked equivalent dungeon fantasy RPG) and the adventurers they’re playing, so it’s kind of an abstracted D&D on fast-forward with occasional damage to the fourth wall. You have to be familiar with the source material to coherently play it, but so far it’s been fun with both hardcore D&D fans and more eclectic gamers who’ve dabbled in D&D. (Jason Thompson was kind enough to run a playtest with his D&D group, and they had a blast.)
On a design level, TDZ is so much an Ewen Cluney game that it makes me feel like I’m falling into clichés. It runs on a simple Powered by the Apocalypse variant, reminiscent of Magical Fury in some ways, but with stats and character moves, and with lots of tables, so that you can make mostly-random characters. (Move selection is a little too dependent on stats to be random, but basically everything else.) The “Zone Master” even makes a DM character, which includes stuff like tables to let you know that you’re going to be playing Ogres & Oubliettes 3½ Edition in the Unknown Realms setting, and playing at the student union at the university.
A while ago I came up with the idea of an “RPG zine” in the sense of a book that’s got an RPG at its core and a bunch of thematically related bits of random stuff (there are plenty of other RPG zines in various formats of course), which is how TDZ wound up having appendices lettered A through O. These include several that are actually pertinent to playing TDZ, but there are also some like “Appendix H: Coloring Section” and “Appendix L: Other Ampersand RPGs.” I did come up with a few extra ones just so the list of inspirations could be Appendix N.
I commissioned cover art from Jason Thompson, to serve as the centerpiece of a pastiche of the original cover of white box D&D. Most of the other art in TDZ is stock art from DriveThruRPG. Unsurprisingly, there’s a LOT of dungeon fantasy stock art, and while you have to be willing to sort through it to find the good stuff, there is a lot of good stuff there, so that TDZ is reminiscent of Kagegami High in terms of just having tons of visual elements. I was especially happy with the pack of silly fantasy art from a Brazilian publisher, though some of it (like what looks like a Rastafarian orc or something???) was a bit too out there for me to have any use for.
Other Stuff in Progress
- Magical Burst: I still badly need to finish this game some day, and I got some really helpful ideas from video games, most notably Octopath Traveler and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
- I Hate You: A Cartoon Story Game For Two Good Friends: This is an idea I had ages ago that’s just now coming to fruition. It’s a simple story game for two players, where you collaboratively produce something along the lines of one of the classic cartoons with a “predator vs. prey” dynamic as seen in Coyote and Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, etc. It’s very different from the likes of Toon, and while it definitely needs more playtesting, I’m really happy with it so far.
- Zero Breakers: This is a game I started on a while back and randomly opened the other day and realized was nearly ready for playtesting. Thematically its main influence is a kinda obscure anime called Mikagura School Suite, hence it’s about a weird school full of teenagers with special powers who join clubs and fight for dominance, with the aim of keeping them busy with each other so they don’t cause trouble for normal society. On a design level, it’s kind of a proof of concept for handling combat purely as a way to prod you into narrating an interesting fight.
- Otaku Crime Squad: After watching Anime Crimes Division (which is kind of brilliant), naturally I hit on the idea of making a very silly game about fighting crime in San Akihabara. We'll see if something comes together, but I got started on a system that uses some bits of Fate Accelerated and Blades in the Dark.
- Channel A, that anime-themed party game I designed, is coming back in a new edition from Evil Hat Productions! It turns out Fred Hicks is a big fan of the game, and Evil Had did a successful Kickstarter to fund the new version, so it should be coming out some time in the Spring of 2019.
- Ikea now offers fuse beads—the kind that you can put on a pegboard and then iron to make pixel art—under the name PYSSLA, and I picked up a set the other day on a whim. I find it a fun and relaxing little hobby, though I highly recommend getting beads that come pre-sorted, because it is not at all worth the amount of work involved to separate them. And I did in fact sort ALL of the beads in a 1 lb. 5 oz. PYSSLA pack, albeit with the help of a Perler bead pen.