YOLO – The Last Bullet Edition

YOLO_LBE-cover

Back in 2013, in preparation for that years ReuniCon RPG Day event – “The Zombiethon ReuniCon”– we pulled together a small RPG which we called YOLO.

YOLO, or more precisely “YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE”, is a highly cinematic and easy to play RPG of Everyday People surviving in a post zombie-apocalypse future.  I think at the time we had ambitions to flesh it out more (pardon the pun) and turn it into a saleable product.  There was certainly lots of notes and potential material dreamt up at the time.  But as it happens, we kept it short and light and it is really just a bit of RPG fun.  It might be that at some point in the future the “Survivors Edition” might make an appearance, but in truth there are no shortage of Zombie Horror survival RPGs out there.  We do think that YOLO – The Last Bullet Edition does however fill a gap in the market, for a highly cinematic, rules lite, pick up and play game of Zombie mashing mayhem.

YOLO – The Last Bullet Edition, was written using the brilliant Wushu ruleset.  You can find out all about Wushu here.  It is worth looking at I’ve played many games using Wushu and it is a an excellent rules-lite system for highly cinematic, kick-ass roleplaying.

Anyway, YOLO has never previously been made available on the web, but as we are approaching this years ReuniCon event we thought it might be nice to share it.  You can download the PDF here, or by clicking the image above, or by visiting our Download Stacks.

Hope you enjoy,

Derek.

WWII Weapon Cards for Savage Worlds

Savage Worlds FanThis is me finally delivering on a very old promise.  Some time ago we published a set of Modern Weapon Cards for use with Savage worlds (see here).  They were generally well received and we immediately set about producing additional sets, however, I got distracted by Zombies…  Instead of making a World War II deck to go with the modern weapons I ended up making a deck of “improvised” weapons (see here) for use in a game of “War of the Dead” that I was running at the time.  Then for one reason and another I simply never got around to thinking about weapon cards again for quite a while.  Anyway nearly two years later here is the first of the WWII card decks, Germany and Great Britain, (I say first because there are plans afoot to produce a USA and Japan Deck – but on past history it might take a while).

So, if like me you find that you are constantly updating your weapons list on your character sheet to reflect that latest cool equipment that you have been able to wrest from the hands of a fallen enemy, or have been provided with by His Majesty’s quartermaster then our WWII weapon cards might be just what you need.

Using the Weapon Decks means no more crossing out old weapons on your character sheet. They allow you to easily and visually trade your weapons with other players and the cards are quick and easy to reference during combat.  Each card records the vital statistics for a specific weapon; Range, Damage, Rate Of Fire, Minimum Strength, Weight, Shot Capacity, AP and other notes.

wwii-card-spread_smlThe statistics are my interpretations, so they may in some instances vary (ever so slightly) from the core rulebook(s) – this is because there are plenty of other references out there and I’ve chosen the ones that I like best, I’ve drawn upon the Savage Worlds Deluxe rules, Achtung Cthulhu, Realms of Cthulhu, Weird Wars – Weird War II for inspiration, as well as other real world historical resources to hopefully provide the best statistics for each weapon.

This pack provides a combination of classic British and German weapons of the Second World War (sixteen from each country). Including handguns, sub-machine guns, machine guns, rifles, shotguns, mortars, fighting knives grenades and other surprises. In addition you will find a page of blank cards to record your own stats, a page of card backs and a print and fold tuck box in which to keep your cards.

You can download the WWII Weapons Deck here, by clicking on the card image or by visiting our download stacks.

We hope you enjoy them,

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.

Crestfallen RPG – Bronze Age Fantasy RPG



This week has been very busy for me for all sorts of reasons which I won’t go into here, but during the course of this week I have made time to read a detailed playtest copy of “Crestfallen”, a bronze age fantasy RPG which will launch itself on Kickstarter today.

It is fair to say that I get to see a lot of playtest documents; either through Kickstarter’s that I back, or through people looking for reviews on miskatonic.co.uk, or more commonly from people simply looking for some experienced feedback and an impartial, critical eye.  Crestfallen came to me in a slightly different way. This time it came about through social media, and I actually asked to have a look by signing up on the games website and dropping the games author a note.  I don’t do this often so I think it is important to say why I did.

Crestfallen grabbed my attention for a few reasons, the first of which is the setting itself.  I haven’t come across anything with which to make a direct comparison in terms of story, and genre.  Clearly its a fantasy game, but its roots are firmly placed in the deep soil of Bronze age history and what is known of the people of that period, their beliefs, lives and deaths, their challenging and brutal existence in a world of real awe and wonder.  To use the authors own words Crestfallen is; “a game about man’s relationship to the natural world”.

The World Tree has been murdered, and Sky Father is dying. The natural world is unravelling and clashing against itself – natural and supernatural disasters are everywhere.

The characters that you will play in Crestfallen, cover a wide range of bronze age society, skills and outlooks. The possibilities range from Politicians, to Seducers, from Scholars to Death Dealers, the social spectrum is broad and makes for colourful, descriptive story led characters.  These characters live in a world that they can’t fully understand, interaction with the supernatural are an everyday occurrence, magic is real, necessary and frightening.  The magic of Crestfallen is based upon real research and interpretation of real world shamanism and druidism, it is not full of spell lists and quick fireballs.  In Crestfallen the magic is largely ritualistic, it takes time and effort, can involve the participation of many characters, and it may not always work. Magic is part of the adventure not just a tool or weapon.  Like many other other things in the game it is a challenge for your characters to overcome.

crestfallenSpeaking of magic leads nicely into one of the other key concepts of Crestfallen that I like a great deal.  That  is the carefully crafted “twin world” setting.  (This is a concept that I have enjoyed in other games; for example Call of Cthulhu and Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, or the excellent reworking of the same for Terror Australis to give characters a chance to play in Alcheringa). Crestfallen takes this concept and uses it not as an alternative to “normal” play but as an integral part of the setting.  Characters will experience the ethereal Otherlands first hand, piercing the veil themselves, or may be visited by spirits from beyond.  You might even choose to have characters that are killed live on in the Otherlands as ancestor spirits, especially if they have unfinished business to complete before they can “move on” and be reincarnated into the world.  The playtest document contained enough information for me to really get a feel for the Otherlands, its races, its flora and fauna, and I can see how future supplements or materials could really build upon this aspect of the game.  Interestingly, I can see many areas of future development for Crestfallen, not to suggest that anything is lacking, in fact quite the contrary, there is  so much in the concept that people will want to know more about it.  Crestfallen and the land of Kerun has the potential to keep growing as your characters explore and survive and I think the authors have a really exciting opportunity.

Finally Crestfallen piqued my interest with its underlying story construct, a long term plot line that will influence your own story arcs, subtly controlling and influencing the characters lives and actions;

Kerun, the mortal world, is in the grip of a supernatural Ice Age brought about by the creator goddess – Earth Mother. Inside a sentient glacier simply called “The Ice” is a prisoner – the insane goddess Annwn. Like an animal chewing off it’s own limb to escape a snare, she is doing everything in her power to break free. When she does, she will break the world in half. She MUST be stopped.

I like this premise a great deal, it serves to emphasise that the characters are not fully in control, that there are events way beyond their direct influence but upon which their individual actions may have a bearing.  I like to think that in a game of Crestfallen the characters relationship with Annwn would play out on many levels, with the characters largely unaware of their importance in her story.

It came as no surprise once I had read the playtest that Crestfallen has been in the works for a number of years, in fact as many as fifteen years ago it made its first real appearance.  There is on the web already a good following for Crestfallen and in the playtest document this maturity is evident.

With that in mind I think it is worth taking a a moment to describe the book that I reviewed. It was an official playtest copy of a very advanced game development.  It is already in a state that is both readable and playable and indeed I took the time to generate a couple of characters as a way to better get to understand the game – an approach I like to take – and in general the layout of the book made this very easy. The playtest copy was a pdf of just over 240 pages and is, as you would expect in a draft layout, missing some art items and with others clearly used as placeholders.  It had comprehensive contents pages which made finding my way around very easy, there are also a lot of call outs/sidebar boxes which explain key concepts or provide expanded detail. It is also clear that this is a work of passion, a labour of love, and as such there are a few areas where it will benefit from that final editorial review as part of its publication. Sometimes its hard to see the whole picture when you are that close to the detail.  Despite these pre-production  foibles, the structure of the book was there to be seen and the integration with the Fate core rules is also apparent.  That integration in itself is nicely done, this isn’t a couple of hundred pages of Fate core with forty pages of background layered on top, no – this is a complete game setting making the most of a solid creative commons based ruleset.

I admire the fact that the author has chosen to use Fate core. With such a “different” setting the temptation to try and create a specific set of mechanics must have been there, and like many projects it may well have got lost on the way.  Recognising that Fate copes well with the challenges posed by the Crestfallen setting; the ritual magic, the spiritual world, the seemingly malevolent and intelligent weather, and the dangers of travel as things which need to be fought and beaten, the need to deal with whole communities or armies – all of these things can be managed within the constructs of Fate, with all but the addition of some specific guidelines or rulings which Crestfallen does in a well considered and practical way.

Crestfallen deserves to be a successful Kickstarter, to see publication and to reach a wider audience of gamers who I have no doubt will enjoy it immensely.  As noted before the Kickstarter launched today (and you can find details here), you can also keep up-to-date with the game on the website www.whiterosegames.com, through Facebook and on Twitter.

We look forward to backing the project and more importantly to playing the game properly at some point in the near future, we wish the authors much success and hope that after reading this you feel like taking a look at the Kickstarter for yourself.

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.

Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell

UPDATE: CODEX INFERNUS KICKSTARTER CANCELLED.

Really sad to relate that the Codex Infernus Kickstarter has been cancelled – due almost entirely to a slower than anticipated uptake and an increasing likelihood that it would probably only just make its funding target, project creator David Jarvis announced today that the project was cancelled.   There is hope however that the book will still see publication, albeit through a more traditional route at a later date.  We wish David all the best – we thought it looked like a cracking sourcebook.
codex_infernus

A holy warrior fighting back infernal beasts on the precipice of a fiery pit. Cloaked figures chanting an incantation to bring forth a nameless beast. A man standing at a crossroads bartering with a demonic temptress for fame and fortune; the price of which is his very soul.Advisers to kings and queens, dictators and presidents, whispering lies at the behest of their demon lords with the fate of nations resting on whether or not the advice is heeded. A scientist examining a strange artifact found on a distant planet that, unbeknownst to him, opens a mysterious gate to a nightmarish dimension when a button is pushed.

These are just a sampling of the myriad images which come to mind when we think of Hell. Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell, brings those images to life and shows you how to plug them into your games, regardless of what genre you love to play!



And so opens the blurb of this new Kickstarter from David Jarvis/Gun Metal Games.

Now I’m going to start by saying that I think Kickstarter has become very important to the games industry – there are quite a few source books and games that wouldn’t exist (and some that shouldn’t) if it weren’t for Kickstarter.  I’m also going to throw it out there that the majority do not run smoothly and even the bigger companies can fall foul of the Curse of the Kickstarter.  So what is it about Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell that makes me want to put finger to keyboard this morning?  Well the answer is simple there are three things that stand out about this product.  Firstly, David Jarvis/Gun Metal Games have a decent track record, the previous Kickstarter Interface Zero 2.0: Full Metal Cyberpunk had some ups and downs but it delivered an exceptional product.  Secondly, I think that David did a good job of keeping people involved, providing updates, not oversharing the minutiae of his personal woes (as some authors seem to do) but actually keeping people appraised of the progress, the challenges and the final delivery.  Finally, he fell into the camp of positive Kickstarters that I like to feel treat their pledgees as investors rather than just a source of funding for pre-orders.  I felt a part of the development process for IF:2.0 and I’m sure the same will go for Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell.

So what is Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell?  Well one of the things I do like about  what I have read to date is that it is clear that this is not an attempt to produce a “One Size Fits All” single view of Hell which you’ll play and forget, or more likely disagree with – religion has many concepts of hell and RPG’s have even more!  A David puts it in his pitch:

Concepts of Hell, Demons, Devils, etc. mean many things to many different people. While this book includes a built-in, ready to use Infernal Realm, it also gives you everything you need to design a Hellish dimension that caters to your specific group, because the concepts  and rules we introduce in this book transcend genre, encouraging you to explore new possibilities for your Savage Worlds game.

So this is more of a Hell toolkit for YOUR Savage Worlds game, take hell to your genre, play in the wild west, the distant future, take it to Interface Zero! Or alternatively unleash the hordes of Hell into earth for your superheroes to deal with – its all possible.  Again using David’s own words:

How about a gritty, “Constantine-esque” type of setting where demons and angels fight a shadow war, with humanity caught in the middle?

Maybe an Over-the-top 70’s style super hero action game in the vein of the Nocturnals, Hellboy, Ghost Rider, Spawn, or Clive Barker’s Harrowers is more your style?

Perhaps you’re looking to run a fantasy game in the vein of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Timeepic, or the Diablo III and World of Warcraft franchises, where your heroes must confront the forces of darkness to save the world?

We’ve got you covered.

I’m really hoping that the project hits its funding target – and there is no reason to think that it shouldn’t.  As well as the source book there are a number of neat addons that you might want to consider.  To start with there are the usual Savage Worlds accoutrements; Wild Dice, Bennies, Cards.  But much more significantly there are seven Adventure Packs; short adventures that are designed to take up one or two game sessions each. Each adventure focusses on  a different type of genre of play, and should really show and inspire you as to the best way to exploit the  hellish themes, and utility of Codex Infernus: The Savage Guide to Hell! If you were to pledge for the full set of adventure packs then you would have no less than 30 hellish adventures from some really exciting writers and game designers.

Speaking of the authors, contributing to the kickstarter – either through the source book or the adventure packs – are some real roleplaying royalty: Clint Black: Critically Acclaimed author of Necessary Evil, Shane Hensley: The creator of Savage Worlds,  John Wick, John Goff, Rob Wieland: noted amongst other things for his work on Shadowrun, Star Wars Saga Edition and Firefly RPG, Eddy Webb: Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, Eloy Lasanta: owner of Third Eye Games, Jay Peters, Monica Valentinelli, and not forgetting David Jarvis himself.  (There’s plenty of info on all of this talented bunch over on the Kickstarter page).

We are wishing David and Gun Metal Games every success with this kickstarter, its new innovative and really exciting.  It has the potential to literally add a new dimension to you existing games and campaigns and take your characters on the journey of   a lifetime – and further.

Derek Mayne

The Download Stacks

Miskatonic_PDF_dwnldOver the many years that miskatonic.co.uk has been floating around the ether of the web we have shared a goodly number of downloads. Anything from house rules, GM resources, weapons cards, character sheets through to scenarios, pregen character packs and of course our much downloaded Cthulian Charades & Taboo cards.

For the first time we have collected all of the most popular downloads into one place to make them easy to find without having to go through the backlog of posts on the site.  So on the menu bar at the top of this page you will now find a link to the miskatonic.co.uk official Download Stacks.

Have fun with what you find there, all we ask that is that you bear in mind that all of the material is made available free of charge and ask that you respect the rights of the authors and any other attributions contained in the documents.  Furthermore, it is asked that where a banner or other reference to miskatonic.co.uk is included it should be retained.  No material available from miskatonic.co.uk may be sold or used for personal gain.

That’s just about all the legal mumbo jumbo covered, for more you can take a look at our websites legal disclaimer here.