RPGs Require Art

Inspiring art is a benchmark for a quality product in the RPG industry. Without a captivating cover the book relies on marketing and reputation to reach players. For the private publisher this requires budget. Cover-quality art is about $1000 per piece from pro-artists. It will be a gamble if the cover-art alone can net you sales to recoup those costs.

What does this say about the people we sell RPG product to?

They are visually driven. The branding of RPGs is around the imagination of the artist who illustrate the product. It also says, to me, that we gamers are far less imaginative than we believe.

Peace and giggles.

RPGs Require Art

Lighting the Fire in the Belly

Writing Fiction, “Origins: Krovosos”

It’s been a while since I posted here but NaNoWriMo has helped ignite some motivation in me, again. Working on a Roadside Picnic/S.T.A.L.K.E.R themed store called “Origins: Krovosos” that I’m desperately trying to finish in time for the Christmas season of purchasing. It’s pushing a little over halfway done and looks to be aiming at a 260pg length novel. Lots of action and a spattering of tech as Luka and Sasha, veteran Stalkers, return to the Zone and its perils.

Black Dawn

Black Dawn: the RPG. A good friend is playing Fragged Empire, itself also in development (albeit with a very nice budget and artwork) and that’s made me realise that I should resurrect Black Dawn and update it for the modern markets. That is, simplify it. This is done to about 2/3rds and probably needs only another 100hours work to layout and get ready for sale.


Cloaks Alleys Daggers (maybe Cloak And Dagger?) is a working title for a game of medieval fantasy mundane criminals who rely on skill and gear to achieve their goals. It will use a new system called METAL (just a working title). Characters have four Metals, Iron, Brass, Steel and Mercury to represent their traits. Iron, physical toughness, Brass; courage and persistence, Quicksilver; balance, speed, co-ordination, Steel; smarts, fast-thinking, knowledge. To these metals you add polishes (skills) that are more broad than most games.

The core-mechanic is 3d6 + Metal + Polish. It can be either a passive test, vs a TN, or an opposed test; vs another roll. Results are based on success margins or failure margins – much in common with Simple 2d6. What I like about it so far is the language. It sets up a good vibe and flavor that this is about being thieves, thugs and cads. Not arcane jongleur half-demon sorceror rogues. I like cheese but mostly with my wine…


Well not any more (the cheese with wine that is). I’ve started eating vegan for health reasons. Check this video out to have your mind blown.

Lighting the Fire in the Belly

Magic System: how many spells is enough?

When I’m gaming and I’ve got a magic user I like the concept that the character can, with enough time, make spell effects on the fly. Throughout almost all the inspirational fiction the magic user is not very limited in their magic variety: just their power. They can come up with something for most any situation. I like this. What bothers me is that in the RPG sense it needs to be codified and defined. Probably to keep rules lawyer/munchkin types in line.

What do you think of magic systems with a limited series of defined spells?

What if the magic system has a limited series of defined spells and a guide for making new ones as required?

In my experience most GM’s will make up new spells without batting an eyelid – every time a new magic item comes about a new spell has to also come about to make said item.

I’m very interested in people’s thoughts on magic system ‘enumeration’.

Magic System: how many spells is enough?

What are the best Sandbox RPG products and why?

Spending lots of time in the last few months researching RPG products, blogs, forums and what gamers like I’ve determined that I’m an OSR-Sandbox kind of gamer. What has become interesting is the games that I’ve purchased all reflect this, to various degrees, without me even realising until I started writing this post.

MERP – although it is solidly in another’s very famous world it is presented as a massive Sandbox ready for gaming glory.

Battlelords of the 23rd Century – a multi-galactic setting waiting for you to populate it with all the seeds of information and flavour from just the core book.

Rolemaster – doesn’t even come with a world!

Warhammer FRP 1st Ed. – a massive grim world of perilous adventure! There’s lots of gaps with guidelines for ways to fill them between cities and wild lands empty for your artistic GM brush.

SLA Industries – a planetary urban sprawl with Cannibal Sectors, ruins, and mega-dungeons and not a single map.

SLA Industries

All this brings me to ask of you: what are the best Sandbox RPG products and why are they best? What makes a product capture your attention? How do you decide if you’ll purchase an RPG Sandbox product?

For me it’s something that oozes “potential”. It has a clear world that operates along familiar daily patterns. And it has events & ongoing actions that are exciting, even if more than a little dangerous.

What are the best Sandbox RPG products and why?