Quick Roundup

So for the last few weeks, I’ve managed to write a new post to go up each Monday and Friday, but I missed one. I had a bunch of writing built up and then through a combination of extra training at work and travel, I didn’t get around to writing one.

Big mistake!

Hopefully, I’ll keep on track for the foreseeable.


What’s gone on in the meantime? Dima the Crow got an outing. I was pretty happy with how he played, but we’re levelling up after this first session and I think I’m going to retool a little bit. I didn’t go full bladelock before, and I’m not intending to now, but I think maybe a bit more offence and less defence might be useful. Replacing Armour of Agathys with Hex is looking to be my first step since I can use an Invocation slot for Mage Armour.


I have a plan to sit down at some point in the near future and add some more Magic decks to my list. I have a fair few that I’m quite pleased with how they turned out, I may as well show them off. I’m currently working on a brew for a Frontier Mardu Warriors deck and a Commander Saskia Warriors in a similar vein (but with green for ramp and access to Naya staples).


I’ve started moving my Ginnungagap rules over from Homebrewery to GMBinder. Not a big change exactly, since it’s mostly a copy/paste job, and the rules aren’t exactly extensive, and the need to format them in standard D&D styles is a vanity project. But it’s one I’ve been working on.

I realised I had a few mistakes and the sections need reordering some. And then I can happily work away on Races and get them rounded off.


I’ve found myself reading through different twists on rules for FATE, both for my FATEPunk idea and for the Old Crown. I have a feeling the skill modes from Atomic Robo will be a good fit for the Old Crown if I can work out appropriate modes.

And then I’ve sort of started thinking about the move of FATEPunk from the Pacific to Africa. Started. A bit. Probably too much.


Ginnungagap – The Nine Worlds

Midgard remained highly favoured by the gods, a capital of the Æsr Combine, even as they made their homes in Asgard.
Ringed by the great Jormungandr, a living spaceport, Midgard is a trade hub and for centuries past was a staging point for raids on more distant inhabited systems.
The Niddavalir asteroid ring, home to Dvergr and Nifflungr alike, brings raw materials to the other worlds in Midgard and beyond.
Far out from the central star orbits the great Night City of Svartaelfheim, the home of the Svartaelfr and their Matron, sat on her silver throne.

Whilst many of the Jötnar were pushed into exile deep in the ice cloud, the edge of the Midgard star system remains a part of Jotunheim, and some Jötnar both friendly and hostile can still be found there.

Access to the World Tree in Midgard is found at Mimisbrunnr, on the edge of Jotunheim.

The system of Asgard contains both Asaheim and Vanaheim, the abodes of the two tribes of the gods.
The world of Ljosaelfheim, once called Aelfheim – the original home of all the Aelfr and now only the Ljosaelfr, is also there. Inhospitable to most, tidally locked to the star, the only settlements exist in the deep craters and canyons.

Access to the World Tree in Asgard is found at Urtharbrunnr, near the Norns.

In Niflheim, the system remains thick with nebulous clouds of ice and gas, and primordial rocky worlds. Few travel to Niflheim, and fewer still return.
Helheim is the only settlement in the system, with little to do but keep watch on the aborted experiments and forgotten weapons of the gods.

Access to the World Tree in Niflheim is found at Hvergelmir, near the Nidoggr.

No one who has travelled to Muspelheim has ever returned to tell of it.

Ginnungagap – Come from Afar

For countless millennia, the void of the Ginnungagap was without form, unshaped by life. Slowly at first, then in a rush, the great races of the gods filled the void and created the worlds of mortals.

Travelling slowly from across the Ginnungagap, the gods Buri and Bor found the great sweeping ice cloud home of the Jötnar, and after eventually establishing communication Bor took the Jötunn Bestla for a companion.
Their three offspring, Vili, Ve and Odin, were less willing to engage with their Jötnar cousins, and relations between the races quickly fell into open warfare.

The three travelled deep into the ice cloud and to the far side, where the distant solar winds of the hot stars of Muspelheim laid open a swathe of more temperate systems, inhabited by both Jötnar and their allies the Vanir.
Around one star the brothers found the home of the great Jötunn Ymir, a leader of their race. He had cowed the local Vanir into subservience, and so the Aesir brothers overthrew and destroyed him in their quest for allies.
In a show of strength and power, the three used their combined knowledge and magic to begin changing the star system. They moved the orbits of the worlds and heated the star with their powerful magic.
Eventually breathing life and sentience into the world they most favoured, they created Midgard.

The Vanir were less than impressed, having their worlds moved and awakened by the newcomers, but envoys between the two brokered some peace. The Aesir established a permanent presence in the home system of the Vanir.
After a time, new hostility erupted between these two great tribes of gods. The Vanir took great losses, as they were unused to the tactics of the Aesir, but they were able nevertheless to cause great damage to the defences of the Aesir – after all, the Aesir were unused to the tactics of the Vanir.

A peace was eventually brokered, both recognising their mutual enemy in the Jötnar, and a great cultural exchange began.
It was in these times that much of the life of the Nine Worlds came into being, crafted by the new Æsr Combine.


State of the Ginnungagap

So, how’s this shaping up at the moment?


I started using Homebrewery to pull all the rules I wanted to use together and make them look pretty. I have races set out how I want them, and some work is done on them, but then I got carried away and copy/pasted a lot of stuff together from Unearthed Arcana articles and stuff, and then it became a chore to edit and it all sort of fell down.

So my challenge to myself now is to actually finish off the races, work on the classes properly and make sure I get the setting flavour sorted. I was too focussed on pulling all the disparate rules together that I kind of lost sight of the project, so I’m trying to claw my way back in.

It didn’t help that a bunch of sci-fi D&D settings all showed up in 2017 and made me envy them instead of compare and contrast.


So what have I got done and what makes me stand out a bit there?

I took out the D&D alignment system and replaced it with the freeform honour system from d20SRD. I liked the feeling of it a bit more for the system and for how I wanted the game to behave.

I took the Kenku rules as written in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and I’ve been playing with them a bit. Decided that the Hrafnr (as I’m calling them) should have as much choice as some of the other races, and tweaked around a bit accordingly. I now have two subraces – Huginnr and Muninnr – one focused on thought/Wisdom attribute and one focused on memory/Intelligence attribute.

I’ve looked back at the way elves are described in Norse myths and looked at how they are generally portrayed in D&D and decided to change attribute modifiers around a bit. I’m still deciding whether or not the Dvergr/dwarves should be a thing separate from the Svartaelfr/dark elves, since the Norse myths have the groups as interchangeable. But I think it wouldn’t be D&D without both.

I’ve looked at trying to create a Dvergblod/half-dwarf racial option similar to the Aelfblod/half-elf. I’m looking at Trollblod and deciding whether they’ll be half-orcs or not and if so what Trollr will be – Firbolg or Goliaths maybe.

I also have Niflingr as a page title currently, but what to make these small folk I haven’t decided. Not sure I want halflings running around, and might look to the rules for goblins or kobolds. I’m also debating making them at least semi-aquatic.

And then there’s the doozy – the Thrall option. A subrace available to every race that fills the role of serf/slave in the Norse social hierarchy. In the same way that Infrared citizens in Paranoia have little to no sentience and are used for whatever it is Infrared citizens are used for, the Thralls are vat-grown clone batches used as basic labour. I wasn’t sure about using them, but I have a couple of feasible arguments for their inclusion, and they aren’t a completely abusable resource as I have them written. Plus, having a background as a freed thrall works.


With classes, I have been mostly focussing on more magical elements so far – sorcerer bloodlines, wizard schools, warlock pacts – but so far not really written in a cohesive way. I need to look at spells and stuff too.

Most of the martial and sneak classes are done and I’m happy with them.


I had a major rethink of the cosmology recently. The Norse idea of the Nine Worlds was something I’d pulled together into Nine Systems, but now I’m thinking I should have made it three systems, with nine core worlds spread across them.

With one root of the World Tree in each system, I could easily plug stuff together and be quite happy. I had originally thought that the Asgard system might be impossible to find, but I think now it might be better if Asgard is entirely easy to find, but the seats of the gods in Asaheim and Vanaheim are either empty or missing entirely.


Lastly, I’m still lacking a good starting point for a campaign. I want the characters to be stuck in Fimbulwinter, the point before Ragnarok begins, and I know how I’d end that conflict in setting in a fun way. But that first step is still a bit of a pain, and I don’t want to start off in the middle of adventures without having worked out some of the kinks in the rules.

I’m sure I’ll get there.



State of the FATEPunk

Oh no, now I’ve started thinking about old projects, I may have gone too far!


As I said in the last post, I stole borrowed the Pacific setting of my FATE-based cyberpunk game on a game I played in 2011 or thereabouts, which I enjoyed thoroughly. But the game fell down and stopped at more or less a denouement for my character, in the middle of a combat sequence, possibly in the vein of ‘one last job’ before I retired the character and played something a little more in keeping with the rest of the group (all more or less affiliated with the police department, whilst I was a Yakuza-style underboss).

Which is probably why I didn’t let it go.


Now, after idly pondering in the last post and in one of my old A-Z posts, I feel like maybe moving the setting around to make it more my own would be a much better idea. And that’s probably why I’ve fallen down a reading rabbit hole.

What am I reading? Well, after googling “where should I put my space elevator?” and reading this search result, it became obvious from the map halfway down that maybe the Asian Pacific and Central America / the Caribbean were a bad idea just based on weather, but areas near the Horn of Africa look much better.

Which led me to start thinking about how little I actually know about that area, and how that world might look, and now I’m down a warren of Afrofuturism, Afropunk and language maps.


So what might it look like, from a couple of days of reading? Well, probably not too different from the old idea of a sea-based platform for the base of the space elevator, some islands built around to service it, and so on. But the cultural reality would be different.

If we follow from that old A-Z post, this elevator wasn’t the sole product of a Megacorp investment group, and the subsequent governance of the area wasn’t under the umbrella of that group. Instead, we have a Pan-African investment, probably with Megacorp contributors, and maybe with nearby governments hoping to chip in and work on the project.

We could use China’s current ties to African investment to create a Special Administrative Region on the coast of Africa, a sort of New Hong Kong independent from any one nation by treaty, but administered by African Union. And since we’re in the locality, let’s call this New Mogadishu. We’ll have to come up with what caused the AU to step in for control of Somalia’s capital, or perhaps all of Somalia.

Then, we have to think about what kind of cultural melting pot we have. This is a big project, a big city, we’ll pull in people speaking Somali, Malagasy, Swahili, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, and why not Marathi, Gujurati and Tamil, Afrikaans, Hindi and any other African and European languages could be thrown in too.

Being able to understand the environment means Augmented Reality for comprehension becomes almost necessary, or else a selection of pidgins, creoles and lingua francas (franci?) spoken by the majority just to get by. But a few words here and there would make sense (how many languages can I at least say please and thank you in currently? Ten?).

And the messy cultural setting plays well with an idea of a war on cultural loss in the face of globalisation.


For setting flavour, I need to do some more digging on Afrofuturism and Afropunk and read some books and listen to some music and watch some movies, but I think I’m building a foundation.

I hope I can get the Ginnungagap out of the way before I do something silly like start learning Swahili!


As for rules, well the FATE Core rules started to get a bit clunky when I was adding cybernetics to them. I’ve been looking at Fate Accelerated recently, which looks a bit more promising. Maybe the Fate Accelerated Plus hack, which uses both approaches and professions could be played around with. I don’t know, I need more time to ponder on that.

Or maybe I’ll give up and go back to the idea of using Cortex. Not sure.

More soon.

Worlds to go back to

I haven’t been too productive of late, despite telling myself that once again I’d kick into gear following the New Year. It would be nice to say that this post will be the start of a new trend, but I’ve told myself that before, and I still quickly get sidetracked by something or other. I can hopefully make myself semi-productive for a while and maybe pull something together from all my draft posts (oh so many draft posts).

So, worlds I miss and want to go back to. Not ones I think about all the time, ones I work on more often. Mostly these are played experiences, ones I felt were never complete or I wish I could flesh out some more.


Legend of the Five Rings

So, I’ve managed a few times to put something together for this, as my incomplete play report from a few years ago might attest.

I did manage to round off a few plots that I had for my favourite character there. He was married off, above his station, into a new clan, which made sense from a story point-of-view but still felt at least one adventure too soon.

Always waiting in the wings was a backup character I made, a Centipede clan bushi who, after years of Phoenix clan training to master the art of attuning to the Void, had accidentally attuned himself to the Sun. He never had a chance to break out and do anything, and I doubt he ever will.

It would be cool to go back though. I always had great ideas for a Dragon shugenja, or to play a Scorpion how I felt he should be played, rather than how they inevitably were. With the new rules on the horizon, maybe I’ll get to try something out.


Dresden Files

The last time I played, my cryomancer had finally escaped his Doom as a Rulebreaker for naively reading a book on Outsiders, only to end up with a completely new Doom – never accept the help of the Genius Locum of a Leyline in order to trap a Necromancer inside an infinitely repeating second, no matter how good your intentions.

I had some ideas for pulling together a new game set in Las Vegas, with various clued in mobsters and the Lady Luck making several appearances, but I never got it off the ground. And with the Paranet Papers coming out with their own spin on Vegas, I was a little put off the idea.

More recently, I came up with a couple of ideas for other locations (Dublin with lots of Fae and Werewolf stuff going on, Hong Kong with Elemental Courts and probably Vampires and triads). I haven’t made any notes or anything on them yet.


The Goblin King

The Goblin King was a magic-powered supervillain in a game of Mutants and Masterminds. He was equal parts campy Batman villain and silly Venture Bros. villain, modelled in part on the Monarch.

But the game dried up just as I was starting to get the development going. Infiltrating the UN in order to have a conversation with the General Secretary, I had just let slip that the entire time we’d been playing, I’d been purposefully hamming up the ridiculous aspects of the character in order to avoid conflicts between Earth and the Goblin Dimension (which had been all but destroyed in a war under the previous, non-Human Goblin King).

I’m not sure how many other players picked up on the fact I’d been underplaying my abilities or motives, but I was enjoying it. I have a draft post sat around trying to rebuild the character in a few different superhero rules sets, but I’m not very happy with it.

One day, I might bring him back.



My A-Z of the setting as I had it imagined was written almost a year ago. It was heavily borrowed/stolen from a cyberpunk game I’d played in for months during 2011, which I enjoyed so much I attempted a not-so-subtle copy of it (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it).

I managed to run a game around 2014 or 2015 using some hastily cobbled together rules for cybernetics in FATE. One session in and I realised that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t the story the players were interested in, and I called it quits.

If I went back to it, I would probably move away from the Pacific-rooted story, maybe exploring the areas around the rival space elevators as I’d written them. That would drop the game into either Africa or South/Central America which would have a very different feel from the Black Lagoon/Marvel’s Madripoor, or maybe wouldn’t. I don’t know.

The big villain of course would still have to be globalism and global trade conglomerates, and so on. Nativism / Globalism, Cultural appropriation / Globalism or Cultural destruction / Globalism would all work in those settings, but I don’t have nearly as many ideas of how to pull it off.

More to ponder then.


Sands of Fate

My elemental Arabian Nights fantasy game was fun for the few sessions I played with it, but I was so focused at the time on the rules and how to make them work that I don’t know if my setting was as good. It certainly had a few parallels with the Old Crown, which I’d been working on at the time.

I’d like to try again, maybe sit down with it and work out some of the kinks, but I’m not in the place for it right now. I’ve been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Years of Rice and Salt and it’s certainly brought some of the ideas back to the fore of my mind.



And that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll actually manage to write something else up soon too!

Power cut-induced creativity

So due to Storm Ophelia, I had to stay home from work today, and then we lost power for a few hours. It’s back now, but it meant I actually found time to write. So here’s what I came up with at the time.


Since I find myself stuck in a house with a horrible storm outside, and without power inside, I thought I’d do something minimal like powering up my laptop and writing.

And after reading a few .pdfs saved in various places, I was all ready to go. Then I opened LibreOffice and was confronted with the dreaded enemy – the blank white page.

I’ve got a good few ideas on the go, but my problem is most of them are stored online somewhere, and I don’t even have a mobile signal to check where I am with them (yay storms!). So now I have to try and work out where I am with any of my ideas and work from there, and it’s painfully obvious that I don’t keep enough of them in my head.


So, what do I have the potentiality to think about?


I’m still fiddling away at my idea for the Ginnungagap – Space Vikings! – in D&D. I know it’s possible to brew together something from all the rules for magic and lasers in the game, even without more settings and rules coming out all of a sudden.

I have ideas for how Elves and Dwarves fit in, how magic works, why lasers aren’t as lethal as a phaser set to disintegrate, how to tie firearms in without getting bogged down in whether they fire bullets or laser beams or plasma bolts or dark energy disks. I’m still not much nearer to a story for a series of adventures.

I keep saying that I’ll puzzle something together if I sit down and get players, and then I delay that because I want to pull more of the rules together, rather than getting it going and fiddling and nerfing in play, which I know I should do.

I’ve more or less decided that I’ll finish my book on historical Vikings, read Neil Gaiman’s book on Norse Mythology, and then be in a place I’m ready to get going with it. We’ll see if I can manage that.


The Old Crown still twirls around in my head, but not with any real progress going on. Again, maybe I need to just sit down and write, or maybe I should through it at other people and see what sticks. I’m hoping Winter will give me an excuse to do more work on it, in the long dark nights where I don’t want to go anywhere, but we’ll see if I manage that.

I’m not happy with the name anymore, but I’m even less happy with any alternatives that I can come up with. I have more ideas for stories and games, but there are deliberately more hooks woven into the setting because I’ve been working at it for longer and wanted to explore, and it’s filled with different factions competing with each other.

I should probably work out if I can make a game out of it, or what game I’d want to. I’ve played with D&D (4th edition) and with FATE (using a reputation stress bar, which was odd), and I’m pretty happy I can make it work with the Cypher system quite easily, just to keep the rules very light.

Of those, I think I’d be most inclined to go with FATE though, maybe try with Fate Accelerated, because with 3 or 4 aspects it would work quite well.


And then, Fantasy Flight have released the beta of the new Legend of the Five Rings rules, so now I’m interested in that again (first glance – ugh, custom dice and no roll and keep?). I’m sure I’ll have a better review of the thing at some point, but based on the skim I read this morning, I like that the core rules have moved back to focussing on the same areas as in the first edition of the game, more or less.