Nathanael Cole / Alliterated Games

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Friday Excitement 2016-05-13

With this post I’m bringing back an old positivity exercise I used to practice, with the hope of using it as an ongoing tool for inspiration. So let’s talk about some things that I’m currently excited about!

First off, I’ll be spending this weekend at the third annual occurrence of the PDXAGE (Portland Analog Gaming Event) convention. PDXAGE is the newest convention-style event here in the Portland metro area, and is growing every year. While it’s mostly board-and-card game focused, there’s a growing RPG section and I’m happy to be a part of it. I’ll have a few of our CelStyle games with me to demo, as well as a fresh printed copy of Beyond the Wall for anyone interested in a pickup game. I’m really excited to see more gaming cons taking root in this city, so come check it out this weekend!

Speaking of CelStyle, the old website for our anime-inspired design collective either got hacked or got swiped, I’m not entirely sure of the details. I’m not excited about that at all, but I am pretty excited about taking the old site and starting something new. Look forward to a new site, a new domain, and a renewed stream of content in the coming weeks and more. Read More »

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Cannibal Contagion and Motobushido are coming to GitHub very soon!

When I finally started working on converting these two titles, it was initially quite daunting for the simple fact that all of my more recent edits to the text had been done directly in the InDesign files post-publishing. The initial design documents (written in MS Word) were long since abandoned after the text and image placements had been finalized. And converting from either the .indd or final .pdf files seemed to be impossible… at first.

Thankfully, a nifty combination of cross-tool conversions finally made the process significantly easier for me. The flow was: Indesign -> Export as Epub -> Open in Calibre -> Convert to Docx -> Open in Pandoc -> Convert to Markdown. The end result was a significantly easier to work with .md conversion, with close to 75% of the work already done for me (as opposed to about 20% or so when converted to HTML or XML instead). There’s still a good backlog of search-and-replace jobs needing to be finished, but the docs are coming along a whole lot quicker than I had forecast. Anyway, I’m still working on them, one at a time. Cannibal Contagion will come first, followed by Motobushido. And who knows, maybe I’ll put up some of the updated revised texts too, once this all gets completed.

For now, I’ve at least got Part 1 of Cannibal Contagion live in the ‘hub. The remainder is still in the works, but coming along nicely.

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QuadRPG is now on Github

In the past week or so I have started an initiative to get all of my main game design files pushed into a functional version control system. Historically I have been absolutely terrible at organizing and maintaining my design notes, and this is made even worse by my tendency to step away from a project for weeks, even months, thanks to– SQUIRREL! It frequently gets to the point that I forget why I made any particular set of changes to an ongoing design, and often that leads to me just starting fresh again with a whole new take – I believe I rewrote the core of Motobushido four times from scratch, due to losing my place in a design doc.

Since I work so heavily with it in my Real Actual Day Job (TM), git (and more specifically, GitHub) seemed like the obvious decision for enforcing this version control. Git seems to be the way of the future, and game design really isn’t all that much different than code, right? Plus, given my prior decision to release a free “Frugal Digital Edition” (example) of every new game I create, GitHub specifically will allow me to release these things publicly and get open feedback, and maybe even some suggestions for direct text improvements.

I’m kicking off this project with an official public Markdown-converted release of my older free game QuadRPG, which you can now find at this GitHub repo. I’ve had a lot of fun running this game, and it’s been given away at every Gamestorm since 2008 or so. I haven’t touched it in a while, and the PDF I’ve been hosting is pretty ancient, so I gave it a bit of polish and released it on GitHub, the first of several more to come. I’ve been considering writing a greater article on my developing multi-device, multi-repo work flow, and that might make it to this page in the coming days. For now, though, I’m going to first focus on converting as many of my current and previous game design projects to git repos, and I imagine most of them will get published for public consumption in a similar manner.

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Hammercrawl v2.0, Revisited

Author’s Note, May 2016: I wrote this post before going to Gamestorm last year, but something caught it up accidentally in a pending state and frankly I’m not sure what happened. I haven’t really touched this blog much since then, but I just this morning found it chilling out in my draft queue, and figured I’d read it over and push it out. It’s worth noting that in the days that followed at Gamestorm 2015, we played this twice and jammed out even more new ways to improve the process – I’m most particularly fond of a new “Loot Bag” mechanic that I’ve been writing up after a year away from this particular design project. More posts will follow on this subject, but for now, here’s the old post that got locked, so that maybe folks will find it interesting. End Note

Last year at Gamestorm 2014, a few conversations on “roguelike” gaming experiences led me to come up with an on-the-fly method for character-grinding adventure gaming. With but a single simple Chessex d12 Dungeon Die, a handful of those custom Warhammer Fantasy Third Edition RPG dice, a Swords & Wizardry monster book, and a stack of random characters from Save vs Total Party Kill, we had a rip-roaring time plunging into unknown dungeons (and looting the bodies of fallen compatriots after every battle).

From this was born HAMMERCRAWL! – my nickname for this evolving method of using collated existing tools for immediate, “procedurally-generated” roguelike tabletop dungeon crawling. The idea is to have everything I need to run such a game on-hand in the size of a custom GM screen, or less. This year, I want to give HAMMERCRAWL! a second go at the coming Gamestorm 2015, and hopefully get things into a more well-oiled machine than the previous attempts. To assist with this, I’m keeping notes here on the various pieces and how they fit together.

First off, things that HAMMERCRAWL! is not:

  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not core game mechanic: It uses old-school D&D/retroclone rules – pick one of your choice, there are plenty!
  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not a system for generating story: If you want Story, you’ll have to add that part yourself.
  • HAMMERCRAWL! is not a method for campaign gaming: The various tools here are collected for the primary purpose of one-shot gaming; long-term use of HAMMERCRAWL! might not be fun, unless you and your group are exceptionally masochistic.

Instead, HAMMERCRAWL! is a system for randomly generating the “bottom line” elements of a dungeon crawl: Characters, Dungeon Rooms, Traps, Monsters, and Treasure. And it’s certainly not for everyone, especially those who want a more stable, fleshed-out gaming experience that lasts more than a single pick-up or con-game session. Read More »

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Coming Back Soon…

Not to imply that I really ever made heavy use of site in the past, but I’ve been applying some updates and tweaks lately, and am hoping to make more of an appearance over here in the coming days. I’m cleaning up some older stuff, fixing broken links, and updating things for relevance. Anyway, stay tuned for more…

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HAMMERCRAWL! Part 2: Game Structure

The first post laid out the tools of the game, now this one sets down the adventure flow, with specific focus on the meta-game that the DM commands.


The characters’ main purpose is to venture out into the depths of a dungeon, kill monsters and gain loot, and then make it back to the surface alive in order to enjoy the primary benefit of those rewards: Experience! The longer they stay on a run, and the deeper into the dungeon they go, the greater the reward, and the darker the dangers. Read More »

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