Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Year In Review: 2012

Last blog post of the year, and traditionally a lot of bloggers and publishers produce a "State of the Nation" speech, a summary of the ups and downs of the year. I didn't do one last year, mostly as no one was really reading my blog (is anyone actually reading it now?) but I did a similar thing with one of those legendary "family newsletters" that I used to put in Christmas cards to everyone.

However, this year was so bad that I haven't bothered doing a newsletter - it would have been so depressing and miserable that it would have been a miserable read and not what people would want to read at what is traditionally a cheery time of the year.

So what has happened this year when it comes to my writing?

The year began a little lost. I was in between writing jobs - a situation I'd put myself in by turning down writing opportunities for the last year while I worked on the Unlocked webseries with my former video production partners, Cheesemint. I'd had the thought that producing comedy was the way to go, writing something funny that everyone could enjoy. While the original series of Unlocked went down well and was screened at GenCon Indy 2011, things kinda fell apart and I found myself alone (with the wife and cat) and at a particularly low state.

I managed to get myself a little writing job covering the release of Marvel's "The Avengers" (or "Avengers Assembled" as it was called in the UK) for Forces of Geek, heading to London to see an advance screening of the film, and then attending the UK Press Conference, being in the same room as Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, etc. An amazing opportunity, and a fantastic couple of days (see the full post here).

But even then, the universe wanted to keep me down, with my mother being taken ill the very evening of the Avengers press screening. While she was being rushed into hospital, my phone was turned off and I was miles away, unaware of what was happening.

My summer was dominated with taking every opportunity to travel back to my hometown to visit mum in hospital, and then in the care home where she was placed, but she never really recovered from that night, and she died early in August.

The rest of the year was taken up with recovering a little, and the day-job in retail as it built up to Christmas and the usual madness that entails.

So, yes. Not a good year.

It wasn't all bad.

Conspiracy X 2.0 returned to life thanks to Kickstarter. The three supplements for the game were successfully backed and two out of the three are already in glorious shiny hardcover form.

The supplements for Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space started seeing print, the amazing Defending the Earth (UNIT sourcebook) is now in hardcopy as well as PDF, and the Time Traveller's Companion has just launched as PDF with a print version in the new year.

And I successfully finished my NaNoWriMo novel that set the scene for the WILD RPG.

WILD seems to be the place for me to put my sadness, frustrations and setbacks aside. And hopefully, the game will be all I hope it will be - a game of dreams, where you can explore the mind, the unconscious, to visit impossible realms, to do the amazing and not just kill your way through bad guys. The world is harsh enough without games of death and destruction. Sure WILD can be used to play action, and violence, but I hope the game will be something more.

Hopefully, WILD will be closer to publication next year. Maybe even finished. I hope to Kickstart it, but I want the game to be actually finished before I try to do that - that way, there won't be the traditional 6-12 month wait between paying for a game and for it to actually come through the letterbox.

With the novel already done (probably needing a rewrite/edit) there's already a bonus incentive, and then there's the cards to work on...

It has become a very personal project for me, and I just hope that when you do finally see it, that it is everything I hoped and dreamed it would be.

Let's hope 2013 is a better one, for everyone.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nothing to see here, move along...

No real blog post this week. I thought about doing the next phase in the "Roll Your Own Life" sequence, but I'd need to scan a load of comic art as we're at that phase of my gaming history, so that'll have to wait until after the festive season.

Meanwhile, writing more WILD stuff, this time how the cards can be used. It's good to get back into the swing of doing that.

Otherwise, work as usual, and it would have been my Dad's birthday today. He'd have been 90 if he'd still been alive. Miss you, Dad!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Roll Your Own Life (14) - Yes, this is a Kult

Last time I did a little nostalgia piece I was talking about the old World of Darkness and how we all got very into playing Vampire and Mage, and then I had a bit of a falling out with White Wolf, mostly due to the way my wife and I were treated by the nasty minority in The Camarilla.

The cover for KULT 1st Edition
I did, however, still really like the characters and the setting that we'd formed for the game, and I wanted to continue the story of the tabletop game, but on a smaller scale. The multiple games in the same setting was too demanding considering I was supposed to be doing college work, so I reeled it back to the basics - just one game running at once, just a handful of players. But what I needed was a new system to play dark urban occult fantasy with. And, as usually happens with my game buying, there was one game sitting on the shelves that intrigued me with its striking cover - Kult.

I don't know what it was about Kult, but there was something scary about it. The cover was cool, but it seemed a little sinister too. Maybe that's what drew me to it, that strange scared fascination you have to see something that you're not really sure you want to see. Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When I was a kid, that film came out and it was legendary. The stories of how people were fainting during it, it was something that was almost too scary to watch, but you were fascinated enough to almost dare yourself to try.

Kult was the same for me. Its inspiration from Hellraiser was obvious, but I gave in, bought the rule book, and was hooked. Not in a "tear your soul apart" way, but just in the way that it was crafted. I set to converting the characters from the Mage game and soon we were back in action.

The cover for KULT 2nd Edition
Just awesome and wacky.
Kult allowed us to do some really weird things in game. One of the characters was killed - not even a player character, just a reliable NPC, and one of the PCs vowed to bring him back by using a host of powerful and available spells from Kult to make the character pregnant, to put the dead character's spirit back in the unborn baby, and to travel back in time to leave the child with foster parents so the character could still be alive today. Of course, he was radically different when they returned. He wasn't a vampire anymore for starters.

It was very cool, and the way that The Metropolis worked, the city behind the illusion of reality, would be something I would always remember in future projects.

When second edition Kult came out with its awesome typography and design, I was shown a whole new world of how rulebooks could be presented. They didn't need to be plain or basic, they could play with the conventions of typography and layout, experiment with the way that the game could be published, and laugh in the face of mundanity. The two supplements for magic were so bizarre in their layout that some pages were almost unreadable, but that just made it cooler. And the Judas Grail adventure was so bonkers, I don't think the players got very far with it. Love that game.
Layout design for the Purgatory supplement
courtesy of

The following versions of the game just didn't have the same scary coolness or wacky graphic design as that or the first edition, and for now Kult seems to have faded into obscurity.

However, it was at this time that weird things were happening outside of the game.

I'd set up a comic publishing company, Autocratik Press (also known as Autocratik For The Masses) with the backing of the Prince's Trust, and my attention to games and games writing had taken a back seat while I created a different world of my own. The world of my comic, Missing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

There's a Right way, and a Wong way...

Bloggery time again. I need to look back and see where I got up to with my nostalgic retrospective of my gaming history, but in the meantime I've been catching up on reading. Something that I haven't really been doing recently due to NaNoWriMo.

Not that I've been reading much recently anyway. I'd been rereading House of Leaves, mostly because it is both incredibly spooky, and it's got some seriously cool typography and design. That was until I picked up David Wong's sequel to one of my favourite books.

John Dies at the End -
David Wong
(Titan Books)
I've already sung the praises of Wong's "John Dies at the End", and I finally managed to convince my wife to read it. JDATE is an odd one - it started as a blog, David Wong writing it for the internet, and then managed to get such a following for the strange occult adventures of David Wong and his slacker friend John, that it eventually became a small press book. When the legendary director of Phantasm (which I love!) Don Coscarelli showed interest and the book became a movie (going to be released in very soon VoD and limited theatrical run), the bigger book publishers took note and "John Dies at the End" hit the mainstream shelves.

The book itself is bonkers. It really does seem like Wong made the whole thing up as he went along, compiling three distinct stories into one crazy, meandering stream of consciousness that is incredibly addictive and I loved every moment of it.

The problem I had was that it felt like something I would have written. The tone, the bizarre nature of it all, it just felt like Wong had managed to plug into my brain and syphon my own strange ramblings and channel them into his book.

John Dies at the End
Film Poster edition
I read JDATE in about a week, and was left wondering what to read next. I ended up starting to read it again straight away, which is pretty odd. I never really re-read books. I've only really re-read a handful of books - "Falling Out of Cars" by Jeff Noon (my go-to read whenever I need inspiration, it's like my comfort blanket. I know, an odd choice), "Dune" by Frank Herbert (just because it's ace), "The Gunslinger" by Stephen King (mostly because I kept rereading the early ones every time a new Dark Tower book came out), and recently "House of Leaves" by Mark Danielewski.

It wasn't long after the trailer for the movie hit the internet that a sequel to the book was officially announced. It came out just before NaNoWriMo, and I launched myself into David and John's world again. I didn't do as the usual reviewers, I took my time, and enjoyed it. When NaNo started in November, I calmed down the reading because I was worried that my writing style would become... I don't know... more... "Wong" than my own style. Thankfully, NaNo has finished and I was able to finish the book this morning.

The sequel, "This book is full of spiders (seriously dude, don't touch it!)" really does what it says on the tin. It is full of spiders. Evil, parasitic, alien spiders that bore into your head, take over your brain, and turn you into a violent zombie (for want of a better word). Unlike JDATE, "Spiders" is really just one big story, as John, David and Amy find themselves at the core of the "outbreak" and the imminent destruction of their hometown of "Undisclosed". The same strange plot elements (especially the opening sequence with the strange military box and the last minute reveal of its contents) are there, but this is a more structured and coherent story.

The use of the bizarre alien drug "Soy Sauce", introduced in JDATE, is really cool, though the nature of the story having to rely on 2nd hand accounts when you're not following Wong does make it a little odd in places - but when you get to the end and read how the book was supposedly put together it makes sense.

I picked up the book on the day of release, and the first printing had a lot of typos, and three of the pages were in the wrong order, so hopefully that'll be rectified by the time you purchase it. And you should. It's still awesome, and together with John Dies at the End, they easily make my fave reads of the year!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update 4 - The Price of Winning


So, NaNoWriMo is over for another year, this is my first attempt at doing it officially... so how did it go?

As I mentioned on the last post, I was on track. A little behind, but it had been a weird month in the day job requiring some exhausting extra hours. I guess it's to be expected working in retail at this time of the year. But I was recovering, the word count was slowly getting back on track, and I was just back on par at the beginning of this week when I fell ill.

And when I mean "FALL" I mean it in every sense of the word.

Not entirely sure what it was, it felt like some evil stomach bug, but it really knocked me out, quite literally. I had a moment when I collapsed on the kitchen floor from just being dizzy and breaking out in a cold sweat, but I thought that the worst was over after that. Luckily I was off work that day, so I just went to bed to recover...

The head injury from blacking out
starts scabbing up. Lovely...
My lovely wife came home, and while she was downstairs getting her food, I got up to use the bathroom and that's the last thing I remember. Next thing, the lovely wife is investigating the bang, and I come-to wondering why the floor is next to my face.

Two days of basically sleeping 18+ hours a day, trying to get my strength back was helped by not only Debs keeping an eye on me and keeping me well supplied with juice, fruit, and anything I could need, but also by the awesome staff I have in my relatively new shop who really showed their worth by covering for the days I couldn't make it in. Thanks ladies! You're all awesome.

I tweeted while I was ill, saying that I really couldn't manage the writing, and I had resigned myself to failing. It was a shame, I was about 8000 words short of hitting the 50K, but I felt crap.

But, saying that, I felt better by Wednesday afternoon, and while Debs was at her Mage: The Awakening game, I pondered trying to write and see if I could at least whittle away at those words. Strangely, the story I wanted to tell came to a logical conclusion by the end of Wednesday night. I could have typed "The End" and that would have been it, but the only problem was, I was still 3500 words short.

Seems I won! What did I win?
Do I get a prize?
Thursday was easier too. I returned to work, and miracle of miracles, I was inspired. The book breaks into three sections, and I'd named each section after the sleep-stage/brain waves. I had the idea to switch characters and have little journal asides in between each section to show the struggles that the lead character's father is going through, creating the dreamshare technology to try to reach his sleeping/comatose daughter. It resulted in some cool new stuff that I think builds on the story nicely, and I must admit some of it did make me fill-up while writing it.

The whole story has a lot of personal elements, in face the whole of the WILD RPG is quite a personal one to me, so I really hope that I can get it finished and do it justice. It's my key goal for the new year. I will finish the game, it'll be designed in a cool and interesting new way, the layout will be awesome, the illustrations will be revolutionary... Or I'll certainly do my hardest to try.

Having a tie-in novel to go with it is a great start. If it doesn't get published as a separate entity, it'll be fantastic background for the core rulebook.

Anyway, the extra sections tipped me over the 50,000 words, and by the end of Thursday, the NaNoWriMo site had verified that I'd officially "won".

And now? A rest. Just a little one, after all, I work in retail, and Xmas shopping has already started. So I guess, they say there's no rest for the wicked - I must have been pretty horrible in a previous life.

Until next time, stay multi-classy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update 3 - Running WILD excerpt...

Over 2/3 of the way through NaNoWriMo and I'm a little behind schedule. I need to do about 3000 words to get back on track, but at least it's getting me writing. Something I've struggled to do for a few months now.

Word count is currently at 32,000 words, and I've decided to put it out there... I know, this is a bit unlike me, revealing what I've written, but I'm pasting in a little from pages 20-22. It's raw, unedited, and a mess, the kind of thing you expect from the high-speed word factory that is NaNoWriMo, but it gives you an idea of what I've been doing for the last couple of weeks.

When I've been stuck for a direction, I've been using the game mechanics for "Out of Control" dreams to inspire the course of the story. Anyway, I'd best get back to it. Some of this will appear in the WILD corebook, maybe even in its entirety as a separate book, maybe as a stretch goal on Kickstarter or something. You never know...

Anyway, the story so far... Clarity is asleep, but she doesn't realise it. She's trapped in a sleeping state, and in her dream, she's gone to the hospital where the previous night the doctor transformed into a hideous monster and tried to attack her. She's gone back to try and get her bag...


The corridor was strangely dark, but I guessed that was only to be expected as it ran down the middle of the building, away from any windows or natural light. The strip lights overhead flickered again. What was it with the power in this place? Were they really that badly funded?

There was no sign of anyone. No nurses. No doctors doing their rounds. To the right were a number of private rooms, with their doors open. The first one contained an elderly lady who looked like she was strapped into her bed, the TV on one of those adjustable arms was positioned less than thirty centimetres away from her face, illuminating it with the horrors of daytime television, the sounds of chat-show applause could be heard through her headphones even out in the corridor. With her arms strapped down, I wondered if this was some form of brainwashing or torture. What had the poor lady done to deserve such a horrible treatment?

The next door was even worse. I could only see the peak in the blankets where the occupant’s feet remained. Surrounding her (I’m assuming it was female, I didn’t think they mixed genders on these wards) was a doctor, a man in a suit, and a teenage girl. Wait. That was... Lisa?

I pushed the door further open. It was Lisa, she was crying. The doctor looked familiar too. Wasn’t that the doctor who just saw to my head downstairs? And the man in the suit. I recognised his hair. Dad?

I edged further into the room, part of me knowing what I would see.

“I really can’t understand it,” the doctor said, “there’s no response to stimulus, but she’s showing a lot of brain activity. It’s not a coma, so to speak. She’s just not waking up. It may be the combination of the drugs in her system-”

“My daughter never used drugs,” Dad spat, interrupting the doctor mid-sentence.

I could see the patient’s face. 

It was me.

“Still, she did have large traces of Flunitrazepam, and Gamma-hydroxybutyrate in her system, there’s a good chance that her drink was spiked. She could have passed out, fell, and caused the head trauma. There’s not really much we can do except wait.”

“But I’m right here!” I said. Nothing. No response. 

Am I dead? A ghost? 

“Monitor her progress, doctor. I’ll make arrangements to have her transferred to York. I don’t care about the cost. I’m not losing her.” My father was doing what he always did when he felt helpless - he threw money at the situation and hoped it would improve.

“I’m RIGHT HERE!!” I shouted. 

The doctor turned to me. The real me. Not the one unconscious in the bed. That couldn’t be me. I was standing here in the room. He turned to me, his eyes white and pupil-less, and hissed.

“What the hell?” 

He started transforming again. His arms reaching out for me, while the rest of him grew to ridiculous proportions. He bent forward to fit in the room, the stilt-like legs having to bend as well. The lights flickered even more, and my ears were filled with the sound of a distant rumbling. Something really bad was happening, and no one else in the room seemed to notice. Lisa was crying still, my dad frozen in place, staring at my sleeping self. I had no choice. I had to back out of the room, out of the reach of the creature the doctor had become. It flailed at me, swiping with impossibly long arms. Its elbow knocked into my dad, but he didn’t even flinch. He didn’t feel it, he just stood there, deep in thought, oblivious.

“Daaaaad!” I screamed, but he didn’t move. There wasn’t even a flicker of motion or recognition. I may as well not have been there.

One of the doctor’s hands grabbed my jacket. I screamed, struggling to get free, but its pale and disgusting hands held the fabric like a vice. There was nothing in the pockets, it was a sacrifice I could bear. I slipped out of the jacket’s sleeves and almost fell back into the ward’s corridor, as the doctor-spider pulled my jacket into the room, jamming it into his face. His jaw extended and extended again. Becoming a hideous maw, lined with tiny teeth. It crammed the jacket into its mouth, devouring it, making horrific noises like a child faking the enjoyment of food.

I had to get out of here. It was a nightmare I kept returning to, and there was no waking.

Staggering back to my feet, I ran down the ward back to the lifts. The area had access to four lifts, and in front of me was a mass of windows overlooking the town. The storm clouds had returned, time had strangely passed and it was almost dark outside. On the beach, in the distance, a bonfire spat tiny, glowing sparks into the heavens. It looked like there were people being thrown onto the flames.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

Am I dead? I don’t feel dead. If what I was seeing was true, I never regained consciousness after the party. I’d been drugged, and hit my head. If that’s true, then I’m actually asleep. I’m dreaming all of this. It’s all in my head. But how do I wake up from this?

I can’t jump out of the window. You can’t die in your dreams or you die in real life, isn’t that what they always say? One, two, Freddy’s coming for you? I can’t just splash water on my face to wake myself up, I’ve already splashed water, and been in the middle of that downpour.

C’mon, Clarity. What are you supposed to do?


I didn’t have time to think about it, as the sounds of splintering wood, shattering glass and the sparking of broken lighting echoed. I knew what was coming. Looking back at the ward, the doors had come off of their usually incredibly strong hinges, as the doctor-creature forced its way through.

Its huge hands grabbed the door frame, pulling its long body through. Its head a distorted mockery of what once was human. It screamed an unearthly howl, exposing those rows of hundreds of razor sharp teeth. I froze. I had no idea what to do. This was all too much.

I looked frantically from side to side. The lifts weren’t coming. There was the exit to the stairs. I forced my legs to move, and threw myself at the doors to the stairwell. They seemed to be chained shut. What kind of a fire exit was that? I always worried about fire exits in hospitals. They always seemed to make the buildings so high, but hardly any of the patients in there could use the stairs. The lifts always shut down in times of emergencies, so what, do they just expect you to roast in your bed? Was this a horrific act of revenge on the building’s designers, lock the fire exit so even the nurses and doctors couldn’t escape the fire? Why should they get out when the patients can’t?

The chain holding the doors shut wasn’t very tight, and I could almost force an arm through it. The doctor-creature was now in the room with me, at the lifts. Its arms and legs were enough to span the whole room, while its head edged ever closer to me. I could get my arm through right up to the shoulder. I glanced through the doors to see if I could make it, but the metal stairs beyond were a mass of rust, flames and decay. Parts of the stairs looked like they would crumble at any minute. This was it, I was in hell, and I was about to be ripped apart.


The windows overlooking the storm beaten town shattered inwards and my ears were deafened by a combination of wind, breaking glass and gunfire. The doctor-creature screamed in pain as parts of its body and arms were riddled with holes, sending masses of black, oozing blood splattering over the far walls. 

Crouched on the windowsill was a girl, about my age. Dressed in a leather jacket, skirt and boots, she held in her hands an assault rifle that continued to rattle out round upon round into the doctor. But that was not the most remarkable thing. Coming out of her back were two enormous wings. Not white like an angel, more the colour of a falcon.

“Stay down,” said my guardian angel, as she hopped into the room. The gun had ceased firing, and she held it upright while the empty magazine ejected onto the floor. She reached behind her and grabbed another and was about to slap the new cartridge into the gun when the doctor-creature swiped at her, grabbing her left wing.

She groaned, but didn’t make the sound of pain that I sort of expected as the creature ripped the wing off, and started ramming parts of it into his mouth.

Instead, she just cocked the rifle, levelling it against her shoulder, and simply said, “chew on this!” The gun spat round upon round into the doctor-creature’s face, forcing it back up against the wall. Its arms and legs twitched as the creature’s head was reduced to a mass of black ooze that decorated the pock-marked plaster wall behind it. The firing continued until the magazine was empty again, and it ejected onto the floor to join its spent cousin.

The creature was dead. It had taken so much damage to its face and body that parts of it were no longer connected. 

“Shit, shitting shit,” the angel said. Not exactly the words I would have expected to come from an angel’s mouth. But then, my religious education class didn’t really mention anything about assault rifles either. She took off the jacket, and the other wing (and the remains of the damaged one) came with it. She dumped it on the floor, “I really liked that jacket, too.”

“Thank you!” was about all I could squeak out at this point.

“No problem,” she said. She came over to me, slung the rifle under her arm and reached to help me up. She couldn’t have been much taller than me, blonde and very pretty. She radiated a sense of efficiency, calm and...

“Hope,” she said.


“I’m Hope. You looked like you were in trouble.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update 2

Yeah, I'm still writing, but it's still awful nonsense and I feel like out of desperation I've started regurgitating stuff from previous fiction efforts. Ho well, WILD is like my Magnum Opus, so I guess it's only fitting that it draws from lots of creative parts of my life so far...

Anyway, word count is on 21831, a little behind schedule (a little, I need to do over 3000 tomorrow to be on schedule) but we'll keep going!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update 1

Hi there,

No real blog post this week as I should be spending every waking hour trying to get my word count up on the NaNoWriMo project. I'm at 10,400+ at the moment, just about on schedule, but the day job is looking likely to be chaos this week (and probably the next) so my time to write is scarce.

The book's going okay, but I do think I'm making up absolute crap. Not entirely sure where it's going, but I guess that's half of the fun.

Until next time, stay multi-classy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

No Mr. Bond, I Expect You To GAME!

I thought I'd do a blog post a little earlier this week as it'll possibly be the last normal post before the madness of NaNoWriMo takes over and I end up pulling ridiculous late nights trying to hit my word count.

Also, I've just come back from seeing SKYFALL, the latest (and almost greatest?) James Bond movie.

Bond, overlooking London, in SKYFALL (2012)
I thought I'd write a little about Bond, and how the most famous of secret agents has been a constant in my life, both in normal life and in gaming.

Bond blasted his way into my life when my parents took me to see The Man With The Golden Gun. Scary to think that was waaay back in 1974. I don't think I'd have seen it upon immediate release, it would probably have been the following year and I'd have been around seven years old. I didn't really follow the plot, but I loved the car chases, and the end fight in Scaramanga's little theme park shooting alley had me mesmerised.

Corgi Stromberg helicopter!
My folks took me to see The Spy Who Loved Me as well, in 1977. This was before we managed to go and see Star Wars, and at the time it was amazing. Mostly because of the car - the Lotus Esprit that turned into a submarine. I remember coming out of the cinema, and my dad decided that we should get the car. We stopped at every toy store on Holderness Road in Hull on the way home to try and get the Corgi Lotus Esprit. The final shop was still a failure, but he got me the next best thing - the Stromberg Jet Ranger helicopter that Caroline Monro was piloting in the iconic chase.

Pan Paperback edition, '60's
I loved Bond movies, watched them avidly on TV, and my mum gave me all of her Fleming books, the old 60's Pan paperback editions that I would later read at a great pace in my time working for the Council when they didn't have enough work for me to do.

In the meantime, however, Star Wars came into my life and Bond was a sort of side-pleasure. It wasn't Sci-Fi, but it was still cool. I still watched them, through the silliness of Moonraker and Octopussy. However, the franchise really got back on track with Dalton's The Living Daylights. Dalton was easily my favourite Bond, at least until the Daniel Craig movies... I know, controversial choice, huh?

But Dalton did get me back into Bond in a big way, and it lead to gaming again with Victory Games' James Bond Roleplaying Game.

It was an odd one, a great game with really good production values that had some minor problems with not being able to use SPECTRE or Blofeld, but their substitutes (TAROT and Skorpios) were pretty cool.

Cover of the Victory Games James Bond 007 RPG
- Although most copies in the UK had the tagline
"Enter the Victory Games World of..." blacked out.
(You do know if she was real, the woman on the
cover would be about 8 or 9ft tall?)
The game itself was rather smart, and one of the only games I have that not only included detailed damage and combat rules, but also rules for gambling (especially the incredibly odd Baccarat), seduction and being able to recognise the vintage of your booze of choice.

But it was the supplements that really showed off how cool the game could be. Sure it did its own stories, including Goldfinger II - The Man With the Midas Touch, and You Only Live Twice II - The Back of Beyond (written by future Bond novelist Raymond Benson), but the adaptations of the actual movies were genius. Instead of just presenting you with the same plot and story as the original movie, things were slightly different.

For example, Goldfinger wasn't about irradiating the gold in Fort Knox, so if your party of novice agents or your cocky 00 agent decided "Oh, I know how this is going to go," and tried to skip to the end, they'd be in for a serious surprise.

The insides of the rather awesome "A View To A Kill" adventure.

Add to this the amazing level of production that went into each adventure. Each adventure (barring a couple of them) came in a boxed set, with a whole host of cool extras. Most came with a "For Your Eyes Only" envelope to put things in, usually a set of nicely painted "photos", some cool maps, as well as props, letters, invoices, and other excellent items that gave the players a great insight into the adventure ahead.

I ran just about every adventure there was for the game, some I'd even GM more than once for different agents to see how they'd do. I wasn't a great GM, and some of my players would say I made stupid decisions (even worse than some of the decisions the players made) but it was great fun, and I enjoyed every game.

Even though I had a period when I didn't really game, Bond seemed to follow me. While working in Bournemouth at the Odeon, I worked their lavish charity premiere of The World is Not Enough. It was pricey for the time (£10 a ticket, £25 for premiere seats) and a boat like the one Cigar Girl was driving at the beginning of the film was parked outside the front of the cinema. I didn't see the film that night, I was an usher, and I spent the entire film cleaning up the vomit on the stairs outside the main screen before the glamorous attendees in their tuxedos and cocktail dresses came out and staggered through it. (Some people shouldn't eat take-away before attacking the free booze at a cinema event!)

While I enjoyed the Brosnan films, it wasn't until Daniel Craig took over as Bond that I re-discovered my love of Bond movies. I bought the complete Bond DVD set, and when Sir Roger Moore signed his book (My Word is my Bond) at the bookstore where my wife works, I managed to get him to sign the DVD set. One of my prized possessions!

After Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space came out, I'd hoped to continue the success by trying to get one of the other two "Holy Grails" of gaming - Harry Potter, or James Bond (both things I'm a huge fan of). I even got as far as getting a particularly talented graphic designer friend of mine, Will Brooks, to put together a mock up of a "pitch" for a possible Bond RPG. (You should check out his publishing site

Sample Layout from the Licensed to Kill: Roleplaying in the World of James Bond RPG pitch.
All content is (c) 2012 David F. Chapman / Autocratik / Will Brooks design
I really liked the idea of starting from scratch, creating a modern Bond RPG that was purely "Craig" centric, but would have adventures like the old Victory Games RPG where the stories had been tweaked, only modernised for a new generation and a new Bond. Possibly even with the option of running the adventures as "period pieces" set in their original eras.

Nothing's come of it of course... maybe one day... if the guys at Eon see this, I'm very keen (hint, hint). There are many more pages already set out as a sample!!

So, that brings me to SKYFALL. How awesome was that? I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it yet, but it's excellent. I did have a slight problem with them making Silva slightly camp. It could be seen as the typical "make the Bond villain have something wrong with him", like they did with Blofeld, but being gay isn't a defect. Silva was scary enough as he was, and the bit with the teeth...  ew! If they'd played him more like No Country For Old Men then I think it would have worked better.

Other than that, it was genius. Amazing set pieces, brilliant action scenes, really cool characters, brilliant finale. The best Bond? Possibly... I do love Casino Royale, but I'll reserve judgment as to whether it's the best one after I've watched it a couple more times.

Meanwhile, happy anniversary Bond. May there be another 50 years of your adventures!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Roll Your Own Life (13) - Talkin' 'bout my Generations

Last post I mentioned that Debs and I got very into playing Vampire: The Masquerade. I was intrigued by the adverts in the rulebooks for something called "The Camarilla" and so I started looking into what it was and how we could get involved.

The Camarilla took LARPing (that's Live Action Role Playing) to its logical next level. A global RPG, where Storytellers organised regional games, and reported what had happened to national and international coordinators to create a huge international game where everything was connected. It was like MMORPG without the internet. Genius.

We signed up, and started to get involved.

There were a couple of groups organised in Norwich, and we tagged along - they didn't really amount to much. I guess the problem was that we tried to meet up in public places - I remember a great meeting at one of the oldest pubs in the city, there were about ten of us meeting to discuss what we were going to do and when the next game should be, and it was like An American Werewolf in London. Not so much "beware the moon, lads," and more "we don't want your kind in here!"

Being a northern lad myself, we also went to the regional meetings in York. These weren't in a public place, rather in a hired hall, or at the "Prince of York's" house. We met some really cool people there, and made some good friends.

We also attended a huge meeting in Basildon. It was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. A huge LARP with hundreds of gamers all partaking in one massive event. It was like a convention and a party all in one, with everyone in-character and running around pretending to be vampires.

The Basildon event, and the Camarilla as a whole, introduced us to the Prince of London, Angus Abranson, and his deputy, Andrew Peregrine. Of course we didn't get to see much of either of them at the Basildon meeting, everything Angus did was surrounded by a gaggle of obfuscated vamps following him around hoping to overhear some vital information that they'd be able to use in the future. Angus and Andrew seemed to be at the heart of the London gaming scene, and they would become important parts of my game writing career in the future. You can see some pics from Angus' Livejournal account here so you can see what the UK Camarilla scene was like.

We got very into the Camarilla, but I'm an inherently antisocial type - I don't really do public functions. However, Debs and I had graphic design backgrounds so we volunteered to help put together our clan newsletters. Debs worked on the Toreador one ("Rosa Nocturnus") and I put together the Tremere one ("Convocations"). They were illustrated A4 black and white newsletters, around 8-16 pages every quarter, with art, poems, game updates, rules, photos, and all that kinda stuff. Debs and I had a blast doing it, and the powers that be in the UK deemed that our hard work should be rewarded by promoting us in the ranks. Debs was made head of Clan Toreador, and I was promoted to 2nd in command of Clan Tremere (there was already a Clan Head).

We made good friends in the Camarilla, met some colourful characters as well, but that would come to an end. Some took our ascent to power personally, unhappy that we'd risen in the ranks (and in Generation as it worked in the Camarilla) just because of our creative and organisational input. We started receiving hate-mail, but in- and out- of character. We decided that nothing we did was worth that kind of feedback and we withdrew from active duty, quit the Camarilla, and I sold 90% of my Vampire/Werewolf/Mage/Wraith rulebooks. I still have the Vampire corebook, and the Mage: The Ascension one (I actually always preferred Mage to Vampire anyway - I liked the idea of being able to change your reality with your mind... a theme that would continue in my games to this day), and I have the corebooks of the re-releases, but I haven't really ventured into the World of Darkness since.

Debs, however, is currently enjoying a game of Mage: The Awakening.

Despite how it ended, I don't regret my time in the Camarilla. Without it, I'd have never met Angus and Andy, and the Doctor Who RPG (Adventures in Time and Space) may never have been made.


Okay, enough reminiscing - on the subject of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, check out this video of unboxing the new 11th Doctor core set.

I was thinking about making my own unboxing video for this, but this is a pretty good look at the contents of the box.

I'm still planning on making some videos, but the timing's just not right at the moment. Maybe in the new year...

Until next week, possibly my last blog entry for a bit as it's the one before the madness of NaNoWriMo begins!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Roll Your Own Life (12) - The Long Dark Teatime of Gaming

Strangely, there was a time when I didn't play RPGs. I guess it happens to us all, we "put away childish things" and I went back into education. Ironically I guess. Back to school I went, but my schooltime hobbies didn't come with me. I call these the Dark Times.

Me at work in the Archaeology Unit, 1989
At school I do remember being told specifically that I wasn't smart enough to go on to college or university, and the best I could hope for would be to leave after the sixth form and find a menial job somewhere. So I did. I left school, became a doley, wrote adventures for West End Games in a desperate attempt to get into the games industry, and then ended up working for the County Council in nature conservation as a cartographer. 

The program closed down and I was transferred to the Council's archaeology unit, where I spent most of my time drawing the bits of pot or bone that had been recovered from various digs, and on occasion going to the dig sites and drawing the finds on location. Not being much of an outdoor person, this wasn't ideal, but the rest of the team in the Archaeology Unit were awesome. The Unit was run by Ian who'd published his own comics as a small press publisher, so we were bound to get along. I also met Gareth, one of the most talented illustrators I've ever come across, and became the best of friends. Seriously, check out his site - the artwork is amazing.

Anyway, the project insisted that we all went to college one day a week to get more qualifications, so we ended up doing Art "A" Levels, which pleased my mum immensely as I'd dropped out of Art at school.

The A Level progressed and encouraged us to do a BTEC in Graphic Design, and soon life was dominated with college, commuting, and the desperate and angst socialising that went along with it. My mind was on drawing comics, and trying to get someone from the opposite sex to even acknowledge my existence for more than a second.

This isn't talking about games much is it? Sorry. Don't worry, I'll get back to that in a second. As I said, these were dark times on the game front, and my focus was on drawing comics, the college work, and the social life that went along with it. I got so into the college work though, one course wasn't enough. While I was doing BTEC Design during the day, I was on a Fine Art Foundation in the evening, and the second year I added an "A" Level Film Studies evening class to boot. I was a learning machine.

The BTEC really forced us into applying for a further qualification - something I'd not really considered. I had no intention of moving out from home, in my mind I was still 14 and most of the time I still acted like it. But the BTEC staff insisted, so I applied for a number of Graphic Design degrees, aiming initially to stay within reach of home. However, fate would dictate otherwise, and soon I'd been accepted on the degree course at the highly regarded Norwich School of Art and Design. I had to move out, leave my little home town, and branch out on my own.

Luckily, I didn't have to do it alone. Gareth managed to get on the same course, so we moved down together, shared a house with a US Air Force veteran who'd rented out a couple of rooms in his house to students, and set out making new friends in a new town.

Some of these new friends were gamers - I hadn't really partaken in RPGing for a very long time, my mind had been elsewhere, but the invite was given to try a new RPG called "Vampire: The Masquerade" and I happily went along.

Vampire:The Masquerade -
You have a lot to answer for...
It was like that first cup of tea when you come home after a holiday. It was fresh, but felt like home. Gaming was back in my life, and I wasn't going to let go. That week I went to the local game shop and bought about fifteen of the Vampire books (corebook, clanbooks, player's and storyteller's books, the lot) and more D10's than I could carry. I blew most of my student grant (yes, remember those days? Grants? I think I was one of the final year's worth of students to actually get a grant before the student loans came into force) on gaming supplies.

The World of Darkness was my home now, and I was going to bring everyone into it. I started running a game that would incorporate some of the gamers from my home town, and the gamers from Norwich, in one massive setting. The events of the game in Norwich would effect the other and vice-versa. It was huge, and I was revelling in my slightly sociopathic urges to control everything around me.

I branched out, running Werewolf: The Apocalypse for another group from people I'd met in the local comic shop, and then moved onto Mage: The Ascension (we'll come back to that later), but one advert in the back of the rulebooks intrigued me - The Camarilla. What was that all about? (That's definitely one for a future blog post).

The massive game kinda collapsed - the demands of running games concurrently with nearly twenty players in two or three different groups, mixed with the strained social life of college and the dramatic changes that were taking place in my social circles meant that I had to give up on the bigger scheme of things, and concentrate on a smaller group.

However, in the middle of all this, I did meet some particularly good friends, and even met my wife, all through World of Darkness. Scaling back from the bigger game, I started concentrating on Mage: The Ascension, with a small group consisting of me (as Storyteller), Debs (my future wifey), and three guys we'd met through the comic shop - Stoo, Edge and Tetch. 

KULT - still one of my fave games ever
These Mage games have to be some of the most amazing gaming experiences I've had as a GM. The characters were awesome, and would become the stuff of legend. When I turned my back on Mage, and found a new game system (Kult) the characters were adapted and their epic stories continued - and became even more epic (if that was even possible). They time travelled, one gave birth to another character in the past to try to restore a wrong that had been done, one had been killed and haunted the group as a helpful spirit...  I hardly had to write anything (and if I did, the players would ignore any plotline and do their own thing). It was storytelling with characters that the players knew well, and the stories created themselves. There was a magic there that I've not encountered again in GMing... and I doubt I will again. 

These characters went on again when I changed system to CJ Carella's WitchCraft, and their tales have been adapted and became some of the inspiration behind some of Debs' fiction writing (especially her dark fantasy novel "Black Clothes, Blue Fire"). The change to Unisystem would lead to other opportunities but that's getting ahead of the game (so to speak). Next time, we'll rewind to cover Debs and my time in the Camarilla, and the important friendships that were formed there...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

And you may say to yourself... "My God! What Have I Done?!"

It's October, nearly the end of a particularly crap year. This time last year, my lovely wife signed up for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. (Why it's still National and not International I don't know... maybe InNoWriMo doesn't sound as good)

Foolishly, I decided I was going to try to keep up with her, matching her word count, and progressing with my little fiction project called "The Case of Lost Possibilities". You can read about my entry from last year here.

It went okay for me, it certainly motivated me and showed me that I could do 30,000+ words in a month, but real life got in the way (the wonders of working in retail at this time of year) and other writing projects came to light, so I had to drop out.

My lovely wife went on to smash through the 50,000 words in November target, but she hadn't finished the book, so she kept going... hitting over 80,000 words by the first week of December. The story is an excellent one, but "From the Library of Parker Prentice" remains mostly unseen as she's working on a second draft. Hopefully, it'll see the light of day soon, and everyone can enjoy the spooky tale.

So, this year, she's planning on doing NaNoWriMo again, and the initial ideas she's been chatting about sound fantastic. However, stupidly, I've decided to join in...  Officially this time...

I've signed up on the NaNoWriMo site, and I know what I'm going to write... I have no idea if I'll "win" as they call it by hitting the target, but I do know that the incentive to keep going, and to keep writing, especially when you find your enthusiasm failing, is going to produce a lot of words. Whether these words are going to be any good or usable in any way is another matter. Either way, it'll keep me distracted from the harshness of real life, especially at this time of year when everyone is trying to show their "family values" through ridiculous consumerism.

WILD has a backstory - a reason for the technology that allows dreamshare to be created. The fiction that I'm planning on writing for NaNoWriMo is the story behind the game, told from the point of view of those who experience the dreamshare tech for the first time, and the dreamworlds that they encounter. It's under the working title of "Running WILD" (yeah, I know it's awful), but that's likely to change.

The bizarre surreality I learned while writing The Case of Lost Possibilities will help, and it doesn't hurt that I'm reading David Wong's sequel to John Dies at the End at the moment (This Book is Full of Spiders - Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It!), so hopefully it'll mean that the story of WILD will be suitably dreamlike. Even if I don't end up polishing it off for a "book", it'll be a parallel fiction that'll be spread about the core rulebook to fill in the backstory.

Okay, that's it for this week. I thought it only apt to have a break from the "Roll Your Own Life" autobiographical entries as I'd reached the point chronologically when I'd had a break from gaming. Don't worry, it didn't last long, and next time we'll get into the world of darkness...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Roll Your Own Life (11) - They Mostly Game at Night... Mostly...

If I continued writing about my history of "life" in gaming, I'd be reaching what I sometimes call the "long dark teatime of gaming" when I really didn't do anything at all. I didn't game, didn't write, I just became a self-absorbed misery and tried to do college stuff and desperately try to get a member of the opposite sex to see me as more than "just a friend".

I'm going to skip that game-less era, and head straight onto the "Second Renaissance" of my gaming, but that'll be next post.

Before I move on though, I want to mention a particularly influential movie and the amazing game that it spawned.


Back in the mid-late 80's, right through to the end of the decade, we had a regular tradition at our house which was "Friday Night Videos!" Basically, we hired a movie from what was our local video rental store (Dixons) and we took over the living room at my mum and dad's and we watched a movie. My folks were usually out until the mid-evening, and they hid in the bedroom until the movie finished, but every now and then we'd hire something that my folks were interested in and one or both of them would join us.

For some reason my dad thought that watching "The Terminator" was a great idea (which caused a slight awkwardness at the Reese / Sarah Connor love scene), but we all agreed (my dad included) that it was awesome. It wasn't my mum's cup of tea, but it didn't stop my dad describing the most violent and gruesome moments to her with a giggle of enthusiasm.

Aliens - What are you looking at Burke?
James Cameron was the new god, and when we first saw the trailer and making of documentary for his sequel to Alien, the Eight were all pretty keen.

I think I saw Aliens about three or four times at the cinema in the end. It was the first 18 certificate film I saw at the cinema, and I managed to see it with various members of the Eight at different times. Even today, Aliens is still awesome, and we can all recite most of the lines word for word.


Bill Willingham's ELEMENTALS
Meanwhile, as I mentioned briefly in the previous post, Pete had created his own game system called Odyssey. I don't really have much recollection of the system - Pete has mentioned that it was a 2D10 system, and I do remember having skills over 100% which allowed you to do extra actions. That's about all I can remember. But the real test for any game is whether you remember the system (and its faults and interruptions) or whether you remember the games themselves. And Odyssey certainly produced some of the most memorable games I'd ever experienced as a player.

What started as a more realistic and authentic RuneQuest style game proved that it could be used for any genre when Pete decided to use the system to run a superhero style game based on Bill Willingham's "Elementals" comics (published by Comico).

But the game really came into its own when Pete decided we'd play as Colonial Marines in the Aliens universe.

Most of us were troops. JR showed his natural born leadership skills by being the Gorman of the group, remaining in the APC and watching us all balls-it-up through our helmet cameras. I thought Vasquez was the coolest, so I played a similar character. A short, stocky, and hard-as-nails female Smart-Gunner.

Aliens. We were not as smart as these Marines...
Pete had predicted the similar space-colony background that would form the Spartans in the Halo-verse, having our group of marines being sent out to outlying colonies to quash resistance elements and rebels. The Smart Gun was rationalised, and made super cool with a really efficient tracking system, firing punched disks (rapidly bashed into a sharp cone of armour piercing metal) which made the ammo carrying easier. But it was the encumbrance rules that really stick in the mind.

I have very vivid memories of the colony's terraforming reactor being overloaded and damaged, about to cause a huge nuclear explosion (I think part of the damage may have been from stray gunfire, I'm not sure). We'd stopped the rebels, but the explosion was imminent and the squad had to run the 5k back to the dropship as our APC had been taken out, before the nuclear explosion wiped us off the planet. The encumbrance rules really added to the tension, as we realised we were never going to make it to safety without dropping all of our guns and equipment.

The later games had us encountering the xenomorphs from the movies, and we had a great one shot with different characters where each member of the party was taken out by an unseen force (that was revealed to be my character, under orders from the GM from slips of paper he kept passing me under the table).

Nothing really much to add there except that Odyssey introduced me to the idea of gaming in a group where one of the player characters was the secret villain, showed me how to do a faithful game that was tied to an existing universe, and showed me that you could create a game system from scratch and have some seriously kick-ass adventures with it. I really hope that people have as much fun with the games I've worked on as I had with Odyssey.


Next "Roll Your Own Life" brings us to the Vampire years...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

RPGnet Chat with Dan Davenport

Last night I did a late night Q&A on the RPGnet Chat with Dan Davenport and others in the chatroom, discussing all things Conspiracy X, Doctor Who and WILD. Below is an edited and formatted transcript of the chat. Enjoy! (You can read the full unedited transcript over at Dan's site -


Dan Davenport: Alright! Dave, when you're ready, please introduce yourself and your games. The floor is yours!

Dave Chapman: Hi, I'm Dave Chapman. I've worked on lots of games for Eden Studios, including Buffy, AFMBE, Ghosts of Albion, Terra Primate and most notably I'm line developer for Conspiracy X 2.0. I was also system designer and lead writer on Cubicle 7's Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space and now I'm working on my own project called WILD for my little publishing name Autocratik.

Dan: Any questions so far, or shall I get things rolling?

nick3: Well  I guess I should ask if more Conspiracy X 2.0 stuff is coming out

Dave: Yes, there's the Paranormal Sourcebook (thanks to Kickstarter) which is hitting shops this week, the Conspiracies Sourcebook which is in layout at the moment, and Extinction (the future of Conspiracy X) is in the works at the moment too... There's been talk of another sourcebook (The Operations Sourcebook) as well, and there are other books on my harddrive from the classic game that never saw print, so there's plenty of scope for the future.

nick3: The Conspiracies Sourcebook? Mind giving us a bit of information about it .

Dave: Sure. Like the other books, it takes existing classic ConX stuff and updates it (in this case, Sub Rosa, Aegis and Hand Unseen) but it also includes a lot of unseen material from the fabled Area 51 sourcebook... There's also some new stuff in there that builds to the future of the line (Extinction) and takes the game in a new direction. It's been Kickstarted, busted through its goals, and should be finished in the next couple of months. It's all written, it just needs layout, proofing and printing. 

Dan: And do I recall correctly that the Paranormal Sourcebook includes info from the 1st edition magic, psychic, and cryptid supplements?

Dave: Oh yes, only updated and converted to Unisystem. Kickstarter backers could get Zener cards with it, they'll be available to retail soon as well hopefully.

nick3: Are you guys going to aid some more stuff about CAPS?  That was a curious omission in the Paranormal Sourcebook

Dan: CAPS?

nick3: Dan, they are Aegis agency that studies the directly supernatural elements of the Conspiracy X world.

Dan: Ah, thanks.

Dave: CAPS is Center for Advanced Phenomenological Studies. Try saying that with a mouthful of marbles as my dad would say... As they're part of Aegis, I do believe they're covered in more detail in the Conspiracies Sourcebook's Aegis section. I'll check... I did write it five years ago, but I have been doing some additional updates recently.

Dan: Without giving too much away, the supernatural has a unified explanation in the ConX universe... How (or do) the cryptids fit in?

Dave: No problem. The book gives multiple explanations for each cryptozoological phenomena. Maybe it's seepage, maybe it's Atlantean constructs, it's up to the GM to decide what fits the campaign best.

Dan: Ah, I see.

Le_Squide: So, is seepage no longer the assumed truth behind all the weirdness?

Dave: Seepage is the cause of 99% of it, but weird things like the Loch Ness Monster, or Yeti, have very different origins... just to keep agents on their toes...

Dan: I spoke a bit about this to George regarding Extinction, but how do you plan on keeping it interesting and not just a matter of "Oh, great, more lizard guys"?

Dave: It all sounds a bit epic, but CJ Carella (creator of Unisystem) wrote Extinction before he became a recluse and vanished (hoping to avoid government agents I think). It's a huge game, but I see it like TV's "Falling Skies" meets "Halo", on a near future Earth. The Greys and the Atlanteans are about, but have very different parts to play in the battle against the Saurians. Lots of cyberware, nano tech, body modification, and magic has become recognised and public. It's gonna be interesting.

Dan: Really? I didn't realize it was that far in the future. Or is the high-tech stuff a result of interaction with the aliens?

Dave: Not too far, but with the way technology is developing at the moment, and with the Atlanteans predicting the return of the Saurian fleet they're stepping up the game and encouraging technological advances.

Dan: Aha. Gotcha. Are there any supernatural aspects to the enemy, or is that a purely human thing?

Dave: It's more of a human thing. Saurians are (*spoilers*) assumed to be Voids (except for the Dreamspeakers), so they haven't really gone into magic... but the idea of a corrupted Gna-Tall is a scary thought...

Dan: As I mentioned earlier, we discussed Doctor Who quite a bit with Nathaniel a while back, but I would just like to say that the system is awesome... and bears a more than passing resemblance to Cinematic Unisystem. Any thoughts on the subject? (Nat ran a demo game for me. He's local.)

Dave: Cinematic Unisystem was a great influence, one of the first games I'd played that really balanced a powerful lead (Slayer) and a group of White Hats (Scoobies).  When approaching Doctor Who, you had the same problem with The Doctor, and Companions, though in the more recent series, the companions have just as much to offer the story as The Doctor most of the time. Ensuring the poor player lumbered with K-9 has just as much to do and is just as capable in their own way during an adventure is tricky, but hopefully the game balances that.

Dan: How robust do you see the system as being? Obviously, it's been adapted to a more action-oriented setting in Primeval... Can you see it getting as much use as CineUni in various games? (And just because my regulars will be surprised if I don't ask this... could you see it handling pulp?)

Dave: I know the adaptation to Primeval was certainly more combat orientated, and it seems to work really well. I know it's also being used for a number of upcoming games that Cubicle 7 have coming out, but I don't know if I'm allowed to discuss what they are. As River Song would say... "Spoilers!"

Dan: Really? Cool. :)

Dave: I know one of the up coming games is certainly "Pulp-y" so hopefully that'll please your regulars!

Dan: DWPearce mentioned that it's a bit on the deadly side, Story Points aside.  What's your take?

Dave: It can be dangerous. It was a problem that initially came from Doctor Who - most of the weapons in the series are one-shot-kills. Hopefully, the Story Points keep people alive, and if you're running out of them, you're not doing enough dramatic and cool stuff to get them back!! Do something exciting!! There's also systems in play to exchange Story Points with other characters, and to keep you alive and healthy, but the best way to tackle combat in any game is to plan ahead, avoid conflict if possible, and take cover!

Dan: I saw that damage tops out at 1.5x in Doctor Who... Does that stay the same in Primeval? I tend to like rewarding sharpshooters/swashbucklers.

Dave: AFAIK, though you'd have to ask Gareth R-H about that, I haven't seen the final printed copy yet. Keep meaning to buy it!

Dan: Ah, understood. He's currently negotiating with the wife for a Q&A of his own. 

Dave: Yeah, must admit, he's the go-to guy for info on Primeval and Who at the moment, I had to take a step back from it all for a bit this year.

Dan: Okay, so can you tell us about WILD?

Dave: Ah, WILD... well, it stands for Wake Initiated Lucid Dreaming. It's an RPG that takes place in various levels of consciousness - from the waking world to many levels of dreaming. I like to think of it like Inception meets SuckerPunch.

Dan: What's the system like, and how does it handle what would have to be a wildly crossgenre setting?

Dave: It's even looser than anything I've worked on before. It's a new system, I've called "Rapid Die Movement". It's very fast and easy, and should handle anything. There's also an element of Tarot cards, and mandalas... Jung would be proud. 

Dan: How does the system work?

Dave: I can't give too much away, it's early days. There's only four stats, and five "skills", fairly simple dice pool. The depth comes from how dreams work, who's in control of the dream, how much you can alter them, and what happens when you lose control. In the real world there's a technology that allows dreamshare, built for medical and psychotherapy use but, then the military gets hold of it, there's black market copies for underground fight-clubs, dream recording, weirdness like that. Hopefully it should be good. And it may help with your real world problems and induce Lucidity too!

Dan: Are dreams potentially dangerous in the setting?

Dave: Dan, yes... think Nightmare on Elm St. And there's always an element that the dreams may escape. Just watch Paprika

Dan: (Oh, that's right... I do need to watch that. I bought it a while back...)

Snake_Eyes: Hello DaveChapman! what is your favorite Dungeons and Dragons module?

Dan: (Snake loves that question. :) )

Dave: Snake! Haven't played D&D since 1st Edition! Demonweb pits is the one that sticks in my mind. Dangerous!!!

Snake_Eyes: Awesome!!!

Dan: Yeah, I love that one. Even had a steampunk spider before steampunk was cool. :)

Dave: Oh, I may have played a 3.5 demo of Eberron about 3 years ago... Looking forward to seeing where 5th Ed goes though!

Snake_Eyes: What would you say is the best advice to give to an aspiring RPG writer?

Dave: Know the system, email the company, and WRITE! Write for free! Prove you can do it! My blog covers my attempts at getting into game writing since 1986, but I think the supplement I wrote for AFMBE is what convinced Eden to give me work. I wrote it on-spec, and it's never been used, but proved I could write for them... I became developer for Terra Primate from it, and the rest is history.

Snake_Eyes: :) Cool, nice to know.

Dan: Terra Primate is awesome, by the way. But you know that, because I reviewed it. ;)

Dave: Many thanks for that, dude. I didn't do much, just plugged the system into existing text, but it's a very underrated game.

Snake_Eyes: What is your favorite personal design you have created for rpgs, as a in rule mechanism?

Dave: Hmmm - I think the Initiative system for Doctor Who. That seems to go down well... allowing the Doctor to talk people out of a fight... I'm hoping the new system for WILD will surprise people too.

Dan: Would you mind saying a bit more about the initiative system, Dave? I've read and played it, but I'm not sure if Snake (or everyone reading the log of this chat) is familiar with it.

Snake_Eyes: Oh, yes I am a little familiar with the system, it allows the protagonist that wishes to engage in diplomacy a chance to act before violence begins?

Dave: Yes... basically, it breaks down into 4 phases. Talkers, Movers, Doers and Fighters. In that order. Gives people chance to talk their way out of a fight, to run away, to do something cool like open a door or trigger an alarm... anything rather than fight. You can fight, especially if you're in a UNIT style game. But in Doctor Who, the Doctor usually slides into a fight and gets them to lower their weapons - giving everyone a chance before the blasting and exterminating starts. I think it's that order... (it's been a while)

Dan: I'm told that there will be an alternate system for the UNIT supplement?

Dave: There's certainly mass combat rules in UNIT for when the troops are called in to fight armies of Cybermen, etc.

Dan: How would you describe the work of a line developer as it relates to the authors of individual game books?

Dave: It's not too different from just being an author, except when there's a line of books coming out, you're not expected to do them all yourself. So you call upon the people you know and ask them to help. Then you take their cool text, merge it into the format you need, and ensure the books have the same "voice"...

Snake_Eyes: What RPG books are you enjoying reading atm?

Dave: Just reading Nobilis (3rd) at the mo, as I loved (2nd) and wanted to see the difference. Leverage is amazing and highly underrated, and I'm looking forward to the Star Wars Beta making it to the UK... Speaking of being in the UK, it's 2:10am here and I've a dull day job tomorrow, I'll need to sleep soon!

Snake_Eyes: cool :)

Dan: So as line developer, is it your decision what comes out, and when?

Dave: Not really, it's usually when it's done, it's ready! Most of that's down to the publisher and the line developer's boss. They set the deadlines (if any)!

Snake_Eyes: well thank you very much DaveChapman, I hope you have pleasant dreams!!

Dan: No problem, Dave! We can call it a night if you need to hit the sack.

Dave: Thank you! I consider all dreams research - I'm cataloging some of them here for the game -

Dan: Cool. :)

Dave: Thanks guys, it's been a blast. Anytime!

Dan: Thanks very much for staying up late to talk to us!