Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Eagle and the Egg

The second short story from Behind the Throne...


The Eagle and the Egg
Five men faced each other across the oak table, their faces shrouded in deep shadow so that no man saw the other fully. The darkness was a little too theatrical for Zandral, one of the men, as they all wore their formal masks over their faces, as always. Zandral expected the darkness was merely a ploy by the Master of the North to set the others on edge. Let him have his silly parlour tricks, he thought, only a fool would fall for them. Another thought occurred to him then, perhaps the ploy was not so foolish after all – any here who were perceived as being affected by this would show a weakness that can be exploited later. He smiled under his porcelain mask and he could not help but let a short ‘harrumph’ escape his lips.

     “Do you find the destruction of an entire culture funny, Master of the West?” queried the Master of the East.

     “Not at all, Alephand,” he apologised, “I hold the destruction of the Noi in the most serious of lights, my mind was merely on other matters. Please, forgive my interruption and continue.”

    “As I was saying, the Arch Mage Singrefel was successfully motivated to lead the Academy’s contingent into the Noi homeland, their defences utterly useless against their Sorcery. The Emperor’s Arm is expected to send the report within the month of the city’s destruction. As hoped, the surviving Noi will galvanise in their desire to hunt the Academia Alchemica and will be one more thorn in the Sorcerer’s side for many years to come.”

    “Excellent work,” praised the Master of the Eye, a man known only as Tens of the Foe, “Now we turn our gaze upon the Hunters of the Empire, the Ordos Venatori.”

    “For too long have they acted without our guidance.” Agreed one of the others.

   “They are too spread out, too independent, their leaders have too little power over their members.” spoke another.

    “And what of this Aguila Magnus, The Great Eagle? From all accounts he is incorruptible, scrupulous and honourable. A great man, indeed. How does one manipulate a man such as he?”
Zandral stood, it was time to reveal his plan.

     “We do not. We kill him.”

    “No easy feat, Zandral, many assassins have met their end on his blade. As memory serves, Grand Master Grendal has forbidden any contracts on the man at any rate.”
Tens of the Foe turned his full attention to Zandral. A gaze that can bring Emperor’s low.

    “And how would removing the only man with the power to direct the entire Order allow us to direct them more easily? This is foolishness!” The Master of the North was also standing now.

   “The Ordos Venatori are driven by their pledge to destroy the monsters that plague the Empire. Aguila Magnus Tieth has proven that he is more than willing to lead from the front of his Great Hunts. I say we give him a foe that he can neither ignore, nor hope to defeat. When his death at the hands of such a mighty foe reaches the rest of the Hunters, it will unite them in a way that no other has in generations.”

    “Yes…and controlling such a beast is a far easier task…we relocate it, or at least spread rumours of its presence where we want the Hunters to gather…a good plan, Master of the West, a worthy plan.” Approval from the Master of the Eye was a good sign.
     
    “But where do we find such a monster? They don’t simply advertise their presence, they are not so easy to locate as you would think, Zandral!”
Zandral smiled, he had taken authority of the meeting from the Master of the North, by showing that his information was far more pertinent to the group.

    “I suspect that Master Zandral already has a candidate in mind, am I right?”
The Master of the Eye sees many things, Zandral mused. He reached around behind him to a chest, and placed an ovular object on the table before them all.

    “An egg, captured from the nest of the Great Wyrm Vermilloximunda…”

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Short Stories from Behind the Throne

With writing and editing nearly finished for our up and coming Sourcebook - Behind the Throne - we've decided to treat you all to a sampling of some fiction presented as flavour within the book. The short stories are intended to highlight the shadowy new faction The Oculus. They are mostly presented as stand alone flash fiction tales, but a couple do follow on from each other. Test your knowledge of Karthi history and see if you can determine from what time the tales are each told.

Without further ado, this week’s flash fiction:



A Fine Season to be King

The sun beat down on King Harlgrif’s brow, his face lifted to receive the warm glow. He took comfort in the heat, having lead his people through a terrible winter not 2 moons ago. He took pride in his decisions and leadership, knowing that without the deal he brokered with the foreigners his people would have starved. Dried and salted meats, preserved fruits, hard breads and barrels of grains were bartered for with many of the Clan Hold’s possessions.

They were not a rich Clan, but they had sole access to a mountain pass, a few miles west of the Clan Hold itself. They could demand tribute from any who needed to use the pass, such as when there was a Great Moot in the valley to the south east. Every few years one was called, and these years were the most prosperous for Harlgrif’s clan. The trade with the foreigners meant his people were strong so soon after the winter, and able to police the pass as strong warriors, rather than hungry beggars, a far more intimidating threat to travellers who would seek free passage. A rider had arrived this morning, informing him that the signal fires had been lit, a Moot will be called this season.

King Harlgrif turned from the sun, and began to pack his pipe with the pungent herbs given to him by Finix, the merchant from across the sea. His kin had always smoked the flowers that grew on the mountain side for generations, so when the foreigner showed an interest the King was only too happy to oblige. They had spent many nights negotiating, filling the room with a melange of smoke, the merchant puffing on dried mountain flowers and the King on the delightfully new dried bark and herb mixture carried by the foreigners. It was not long before the King had demanded that Finix sweeten the deal by trading all the merchant carried of the herbs for an equal measure of the local smoke. Finix had wholeheartedly agreed. Already the King’s closest advisors and favoured warriors were taking to the new mixture. This was going to be a fine season to be King.

--------------

Finix cracked the seal on the missive just now handed to him. It bore the mark of his master, Lord Argos Vanhanen II. By the lantern light he read, a smile slowly beginning to play out on his weathered face.

“My colleagues and I commend you on your machinations in the barbarian lands. Securing the pass east of the clan you mentioned in particular was ingenious. I am proud that the drug that we prepared for you was used wisely; the barbarian king will not even suspect he has been given an extremely addictive herb until it is too late. He will bow to our demands for passage without resorting to violence, and when the invasion fleet lands in a month’s time the Commanders will be informed of the king’s addiction. We have seen to it they have ample herb to bribe this Harlgrif and his men. Report to Lieutenant Horten in the 3rd Company, Emperor’s Arm when they arrive, he is one of us and shall see you rewarded.

Argos V. II”

Below the signature was a symbol, a stylized eye encircled by an arcing line on an angle. Curious, Finix mused, never seen the master use that glyph before…

Monday, 16 September 2013

HoF Now Pay What You Want!

Another milestone for Hands of Fate; after much consideration we have decided to convert pricing of the PDF version of the Core Rules to the Pay What You Want pricing structure (PWYW). As our main goal here is not to make money but to share our games and ideas with others, we felt that this was the best way to attract fence sitters and the generally curious to give it a go. This structure allows a customer to pretty much get the Core Rules for free, although there is an option for them to support us if they so choose. The product page can be found HERE

The final deciding factor in this decision was that upon checking in with sales we learned that we had indeed begun to run a profit from sales, and have more than earned back what we spent on production. We're not saying we've struck rich - although we'd love to, haha! - but costs spent on producing our current titles and a few more to come have been met. We'll still offer our Sourcebooks at the low price of US$1, and the Print Version of the Core Rules will remain at current prices, but now you don't have to pay us a cent if you want to find out what it's all about :)

And that, is what we're all about. Stay Sharp!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Epic Battle!

This weekend saw the epic climax (for Hands of Fate at any rate) of our dungeon crawl deep into a necrotic demon infested cult temple. Hoping to rescue a woman kidnapped from the city of Kroanvor, the party slowly realises that this is not just your everyday snatch and grab sacrifice for demonic favour. Instead they uncover evidence that there are several sacrifices on offer, with the woman (made special because of an amulet her father gave her, looted from this very temple when her father was an adventurer) as the main course for the demon Anehk Mora to power a summons spell. They had already found a shaman, imprisoned and driven mad by thirst and the horrors he had witnessed in the demon’s name. Lodridge responded to the Spirit of the Raven that rode on the metaphorical shoulders of the party’s animist, Jorgen, and spoke of a secret weapon the cultists used to wipe out the shaman’s own war band – A fettered spirit demon called Damnation hidden away in the lowest reaches of the temple.

The party trekked down to the unnaturally cold lair of the spirit and called it forth from a set of magical iron doors, the focus of Damnation’s link to the Mortal Realms. The ambush set, the spirit was promptly banished forever after a short, but vicious fight.

Returning to the higher levels, the party progressed through a protective ward, defeated through solving a double puzzle. The first puzzle, once solved, shows the party were to begin the second. After a brief interlude of logical analysis and trial and error the party passed through the ward and into the presence of a patrolling lieutenant and aides. This was the first difficult battle the party had faced; up to this point most encounters (Damnation aside) had merely been patrolling cultists and their undead minions. The Lieutenant ordered one of the cultists with him to return to the ceremonial chamber and warn “Stavros” to hurry the ritual along.

The battle consisted of the Lieutenant and a remaining cultist, along with several skeletal minions and an animated bone golem. The golem proved a dangerous distraction for the party’s Benediction caster (Leech), who assumed that it too was undead. Little did he know that Golems are immune to Life and Death spheres, and after a few failed attempts to break apart its animation the Alfari of party (Kessen) was able to offer some Aracana advice about Golems and one of their weaknesses – the Creation Sphere. The party quickly cleaned up the fight afterwards.

The final fight, in the ceremonial chambers, was huge! See the photo’s below.
The party faced a force of 20+ combatants, and they called upon the favour of Mem, a deity of Death and Mercy, to bolster their forces. Leech used his Benediction magic to animate several skeletons of their own to act as cannon fodder, and the animist, Jorgen, called the Spirit of Bear to change into a great werebear for the battle. Kessen joined the line as the archer, and used his Enchantment spells to great effect.

All in all, with a battle consisting of over 30 combatants I think things went fairly well. The woman was rescued, but due to a mishap the final sacrifice needed to complete the ritual was made (cheers Colin!), with the final cultist being the offer Anehk Mora needed. The party, battered, wounded and suffering from fatigue, cleared out the enemy forces and grabbed the girl. As the demon began to coalesce from the mutilated remains of the final cultist, some quick thinking by Leech caused the chamber to begin collapsing on itself.

Next session; the obligatory run from the crumbling temple!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

New Product line!

We are pleased to announce our newest product; Crew Quarters!





Crew quarters is a boardgame and card game in one. Players take the role of....well how about you read the back of the box too:




The roles you can play are:

The Captain - they steer the ship, give out awards and general get to boss the others around and give speeches.

The Executive Officer - the XO is the manager and human resources guy. They organise and sort cargo, finances and ensuring the ship has fuel etc.

The Chief Engineer - repairs, maintenance, damage control, and making sure the ship's toilet flushes

The Professor - studying the universe on the way through each mission, coming up with all manner of wacky intruments and experiments. Some of them are even helpful!

The Colonel - controlling discipline and readiness, the ship's meagre fighter screen, and organising Away Teams

The Doctor - in charge of the general health and wellbeing of the crew, as well as ensuring everyone follows quarantine measures.

Stay tuned for more information!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Birthdays, Book Blocks and Behind the Throne!

So it’s my partner’s and my birthdays this week, and I’ve gotten myself a neat little present (the missus has already been sorted). This week should herald the availability of the Print on Demand option for the Core Rules! The book is already available from Lulu.com however their printing costs are rather high and the end price of the book is far above what I envisioned our customers having to pay for the hardcover. This will all change with Lightning Source having accepted the book block files and I eagerly await imminent arrival of the print proof this week. As meticulous as we have been, I hope there are no major flaws with the design and layout and I anticipate the POD option being activated shortly after I have the hot little number in my hands.

So, stay posted and I may even debut the release with a special discount in celebration for this milestone.

In other news:

·         Behind the Throne – Enchantments Supplement for HoF is in development. There is still tons of work to do on it, but already there’s plenty of source material to explore and expand on. We introduce several new factions, a plethora of new spells, a sinister back story to the shadowy Oculus bogey men, and an introduction to the mysterious Fae of Karth.
·         The Book of Artefacts. Work in progress introducing a multitude of Artefact type magical items to HoF. From Plot Device level of power all the way down to the everyday items sold by street vendors, the variety of Artefacts in the Hands of Fate universe deserves its own supplement to do it justice.
·         Animism and Benedictions Supplement still in concept phase. We envision exploring the Shaman faction of Karth, as well as touching on their ancient enemies, the diabolists, and the coming darkness that’s been hinted at in other parts of the fiction sprinkled about the Hands of Fate books. For Benedictions we plan to have more religions detailed and to add some fiction to support their implementation into Karth.
·         Softcover editions of Monsters of Karth and Ars Academia planned. Now that the whole process of book block creation is no longer a mystery it should be fairly easy to put together the required typesetting. We plan on releasing all supplements as softcover standard colour in order to keep costs as low as possible.

A Note on Costs:

Low costs = low prices, which is everything we stand by here. This endeavour (I’m talking about Audio Samurai Games) does not have making money as its end goal; our end goal is to provide quality gaming products that are affordable to just about everyone. As a gamer myself I know how expensive it can get trying to collect as many gaming books about your favourite systems as possible, and that’s something we want to alleviate here at Audio Samurai Games. In order to create quality products, however, we need quality artwork to break up the walls of text. We’re always on the look-out for decent, yet affordable artwork, especially if it’s free! If you have a doodle of a cool character from your favourite games (and they don’t look like someone trademarked) and you’d like to see it in print we’d be happy to accept donations. I can’t promise you much in the way of cash but you’ll definitely receive a mention in the credits and we’re happy to give out complimentary PDF’s of our products (or possibly a Core Rules if the artwork is exceptional). Tell your friends; tell your family; or anyone you know that can draw either digitally (preferred) or on paper and wouldn’t mind giving away some free time.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

What to Expect...

So the Print on Demand version of the HoF Core Rules is nearing completion, and I thought I would take some time to let people know what to expect. Well, first of all, as mentioned previously all the artwork has been reconsidered and it now has several magnificent full page splashes of fantasy art courtesy of Joe J. Calkins of Cerberus Art. We’ve used a few pictures from the Wyn D’mere Art Pack from RPGNow.com and by Shield of Faith Studios / Matt Jordan and some of the artwork available from the Arcane Monthly e-magazine. A few of the original pictures made it into this iteration of the Core Rules as well. It’s not that the previous artwork weren’t good, it’s more that the pictures were just littered through the publication to fill space and break up the walls of text. Not much in the way of theme.

I’ve talked enough about artwork (did I mention that it looks brilliant?), what’s going to be different?

I’ve gone through and revised about 60% of the rules. This revision included rewrites to clear up confusions about some of the information, reordering sections within the chapters to make more sense and outright adding more goodness.

Some examples of new content:
·         Rules clarification about using Aces and Jacks to activate Talents, and Aces not able to activate Combos
·         Grammatical fixes for some entries
·         Introducing the concept of ‘0 Value Cards’ – when defending against an attack with more cards than you have, you may still apply your modifiers to Effect against those pesky low valued cards that always seem to do the damage as they’re undefended. Now you can pop that errant +1 to Effect onto an imaginary card with a value of 0, essentially defending a card with nothing more than an Effect bonus
·         Added the Dazed and Confused Conditions.
·         Reworked Enchantments – added 2 new types of Enchantment spells; Divinations and Cantrips. These new spell types introduce a new way to cast Enchantments, and offer more flavour and versatility to this magic style. Cantrips are effects that affect the physical world, such as telekinesis, rope tricks and orbs of light. Divinations allow for gypsy like fortune tellers and mind reading abilities. Several new spells!
·         Animism has a few new Spirits of the Wilds added. Some of the process of summoning and communing has been streamlined a little. More information on Diabolism, including 3 Demon Types to summon and serve…I mean befriend.
·         Games Mastery has had a fair bit of re-write done on it, to clear up the wall of text that used to be the Interactions section about NPC reactions and diplomacy or intimidation. Re-ordered the sections on Narration and Passing the Narrative. Added better information regarding weather effects.
·         Creature Features – Added several new Features; Tough – add points to tough creature’s Hand without increasing Expertise, Shapeshifter – change the creatures appearance slightly, such as facial features to appear as someone else, True Shapeshifter – change the entire body, size and shape of a creature, Heroic – Changed to remove the reference to Second Wind (oops), Acid – removed reference to Chemistry (was meant to be Alchemy) and changed the way it operates, Fleet – add movement to creatures without having to increase their POW, Plant – changed the references to include notes about movement and Immunities and Vulnerabilities, as well as discussing INT scores.
·         And more that I can’t think of right now

So, tons of new stuff, we’re pretty excited about the completion of this task, and will keep you informed of expected changes in the near future.

Stay Sharp!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

School's In!



Ars Academia went live this morning on RPGNow.com! This is our 4th product in the Hands of Fate series, this one focusing on the roles and abilities of Sorcerers. It offers an in depth look at life in the Academia Alchemica, the Empire’s elite school for Sorcery and Alchemy, from Apprentice level all the way to Arch-Mage; the masters of Sorcery.

We’ve got more complex methods for casting spells, such as Rituals, which are spells that are cast through successive rounds and take a toll on the caster. Once committed to a Ritual the Sorcerer faces a very real risk of literally blowing themselves up or tearing themselves to pieces with their magic as they channel excessive amounts of Aether, the substance of magic. The same process can be applied to Benediction spells, and will be extrapolated in an up and coming supplement focusing on Benedictions.

Ars Academia offers insight into the various power plays and political manoeuvring going on within the tome lined walls and dusty bookshelves. It details a few of the factions within a faction that are the cause of much turmoil and strife for Sorcerer characters. There are adventure hooks suitable for Sorcerous adventurers and their minions…I mean party companions…and a whole slew of magical themed monsters to throw at them.

For the budding crafter there are new magical properties to apply to weapons, armour and trinkets. New potion and scroll effects, and ways to give the Alchemist and Scribe an advantage in his or her field.

Lastly, as the greatest challenge in playing a Sorcerer is thinking up ways that their free-style magic can affect the world, the supplement offers over 30 example spells; from 1 or 2 Modification spells all the way up to 10 Modifications!

So…What’s next, you ask?

·         Due to much anticipation and demand for an extrapolation of the Enchanter and their abilities I’ll be working on the Enchantments Supplement, Title TBA, so stay tuned for info on that little gem.
·         Animism deserves as much treatment as the other magic styles and I can’t wait to see what we can come up with, providing new tools and Spirits for our warriors of the great spirits!
·         A book devoted to new religions, providing a framework for Benediction characters or GMs to either build their own religions, or adopt one of the ones in the book.  It should also have a ton of flavoured information for the game world, for those who wish to focus their games around religious turmoil.
·         The Book of Artefacts is in production; this supplement will provide GMs with everything from small powered, everyday magical items that people take for granted - such as ever burning candles - to truly world shattering artefacts of terrible power – such as Lokan’s personal Spear. Devices that can be used as flavour in campaigns, or as pivotal plot devices that drive the characters to do what they do.

Monday, 24 June 2013

HoF Print on Demand version in the works!

So the repertoire of Audio Samurai Games is growing, and the more I write, the more I come up with great ideas. I think they're great, anyway, and so do my gaming buddies. But offering just electronic versions of the games we make isn't enough. Not for me. I dream of one day lining one of my sagging, overburdened bookshelves (I really should look at getting another one) with hard copy versions of my own games.

PDFs are convenient at the gaming table, with bookmarks and hyperlinked references, but nothing quite captures the genuine feel of a true RPG experience like a hardcover edition of the game your playing, sitting within reach of all the players. Or better yet, one for everyone.

The artwork in the hard copy books is appreciated more, I believe, as PDFs are usually just used as references. It is much easier to look up something when the chapter is bookmarked, or there's a link to the table in the contents. I think having a hard copy version of HoF is just a pride thing, but it's something I'm working towards.

I've been using the opportunity to take a good hard look at the state of the game, also, not just reformatting and adding new artwork, but going through each and every rule and notation to see if it can be tweaked just that little bit more. I've made some changes, and found some stuff that SHOULD have been changed but wasn't (I'm looking at you, reference to Second Wind in Creature Features section!) and on the advice of some of my regular players added tutorials to some chapters with pictures to better explain the use of Effects, activations of Talents and how to Trump during combat.

So it's taking a little longer than expected to get the printed version ready, but as I'm now about 30% done I've come to realise that I should not rush through this regardless of how excited I may get about holding the dead tree copy in my hands.

For anyone who's interested, here's a link to what's been done so far, just so you can compare with the PDF version and see what I'm talking about :)

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Monsters of Karth


Another Add-on for Hands of Fate goes live!

Finally finished the Monsters of Karth booklet for the Hands of Fate RPG, and there's some amazing artwork from Joe Calkins, Cerberus Art, and a few others from the Golden Age of RPGs. As you can see, the cover work looks fantastic!

I had purchased an art pack from Cerberus Art and guessed there would be 2 or 3 pictures in there that I could use, as is usual with an artpack that I pick up, but was very impressed with a lot of the work therein. The pictures were from the artpacks Cerberus Stock Art: A Decade of Fantasy and Cerberus Royalty Free Clip Art Pack, and are of excellent value. I drew a ton of inspiration from these pictures, and was pleased to find that almost all of my monster entries in the book were able to have pictures matched from the art packs.

More on the book itself;

  • Several Dragons!
  • More Orc and Alfari enemies
  • Ogres and their war against the Bolfi
  • Tons of Undead, both corporeal and incorporeal.
  • Wild Men
  • Many creatures from Karthi myths and legends
  • New Armour and Weapons, plus a new Animism Spirit of the Wilds!
So, what are you waiting for? GO GET IT!!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Why a Dungeon?


So, I was thinking the other day while writing up stuff for the Monsters of Karth add-on for Hands of Fate and I came across a question that I asked myself and I don’t think I’ve been able to satisfactorily answer. So I’ll write down my thoughts and see where they take us.

Thinking of ideas for dungeon themed monsters, while trying to steer clear of clich├ęd D&D critters, I thought about what a dungeon means in my games, and are they really something that makes for fun gaming still? My games tend to be more story related, with encounters based around what the party discovers while acting out their characters, and I realised that I haven’t run a good dungeon crawl for a long time. I feel that simply laying out a labyrinthine structure and populating it with monsters sounds like an unimaginative way to spend my precious game time, that the story elements that would be strongest in this gaming environment would be reduced to questions like “What’s through the next door?” or “What does this lever do?”.

This may be enticing enough of a plot for many players out there but the storyteller in me begs for more of an element of mystery and excitement than mapping rooms and killing the bad guys in them. One or two rooms after the first and the party falls into a careful, methodical approach to opening doors (listen checks, trap checks, magical trap checks and then carefully opening the door). Yes, I realise I may be over-simplifying the process and that there are plenty of exciting dungeon crawls out there, especially for the Old School Gamer , but it’s a thought that keeps nagging my creativeness, that doesn’t see the fun in just running room encounter after room encounter. There isn’t enough character interaction, enough character building, or enough ROLEPLAYING for me.

So I struggled to come up with critters for my dungeons, simply because I find encounters out of dungeons to be far more complex and story driven than simply ‘because the monster lives in this room’. There must be a story related reason why the encounter occurs.

This is important in a game like Hands of Fate, and a few others, because it doesn’t reward players with a bounty of xp for each monster slain. It rewards the players on good roleplaying, on furthering the storyline, and for collaborating with the GM to create fantastic stories. A horde of mad Orcs killed to the last gives you just as much xp as a duel with a single, dangerous foe. The game doesn’t need multiple combat encounters, it needs a story. Combat, while fun, can bog down game play significantly; especially if you run with groups of 4+ players. This is one of the reasons why I wanted Hands of Fate to be fast paced, and the result is a very deadly combat system where the players are rather nervous when facing off against a GM controlled character or monster, one well timed dagger thrust to the goolies and it’s goodnight, Sunshine. Combat means a deadly encounter, for one side or the other, and there are consequences for letting a sword thrust go unchecked, even if the party has a healer.

So far, we’ve had great success in wilderness encounters and city borne combat, with a small dungeon crawl that was mostly puzzle solving Indianna Jones style more than room clearing. We’ve done a cave crawl to clear out an Orc lair, but once again, it was mostly just a few rooms with story elements in between. I think the ‘Passing the Narrative’ mechanic makes room mapping and maze running obsolete, as a player who thinks up a good way to use their character’s skills can gain the Narrative off the GM and hand wave the maze away, saying that the party navigates the passageways for a while until they hear an approaching patrol. For raiding fortifications, the party can come up with battle plans ahead of the fight, and they end up choosing where the encounters occur.

I dunno, maybe I just don’t get dungeons.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

It's ALIVE!!!!!

It's official, folks, Hands of Fate is now live on RPGNow.com and available for purchase. For the avid readers here ( I know theres at least 2 of you ;) ) I have a special discount link for you to use to get the PDF at 25% off:

Hands of Fate Core Rules 25% Off!!

This link will work for a couple of months so take advantage of it now. Also to those of you who have already purchased it, I thank you, PM me with your Customer ID in rpgnow and I'll see that you get a special discount on future products.

Next:

Hard at work getting the first few suppliments completed, The Guide to Karth is ready for download, only there is little artwork. I did plan on getting some artwork for the various areas however it's proving to be too expensive to get what  I wanted so instead of putting in shitty hand drawn stuff I did myself I'm leaving it blank. It's available to download off this site (in the Downloads Page) and will be up soon on RPGNow.com.

Monsters of Karth needs more work, this is something I'd love to get artwork for on the critters, but once again my budget is not being very productive. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for good, cheap drawings, so if anyone has a good hand at this sort of thing I'd love to take a look.

Other Suppliments - Ars Academia has been started, but is far from finished; Return of the Weaver adventure has first chapter finished, but needs lots more work; others have not been started yet.

Stay tuned for more information!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

State of Play

Happy 1st of May, HoFers!

Today's blog is an update on the State of the Game so far, and intentions for up coming work.

My partner and I have returned from our holiday to Thailand safe and sound, and ready to get back into things. First up; changes!

Wounds have had a slight revamp, in that only PCs may take wounds. This is to represent consequences to combat, even in victory, and we've left NPCs with simply larger Hands to compensate this. We figured that only non-player character big enough to warrant anything greater than the fast creation rules in the Game Mastery section of the Core Rules will most likely be created as a fully fledged character using the same rules as a PC, Wounds and all. Also, being knocked down to 0 Hand or less only generates a Light Wound, escalated in the case of filled Wound severity.

Damage has had a revamp. We weren't happy with the way Maximum Damage was handled. We found that even with a limit put in place equal to the Aptitude governing the combat style (POW for Str, INT for magic or CNG for Ref) the damage output was still too high. The rule in question was for when suits matching the skill being used were able to ignore the Max Dam limit. For example, Swords use the suit of Spades, so if a Damaging Trump had any Spades in it, they did not count towards the Max Dam set by the sword wielder's POW Aptitude. This has now been changed to only a Dramatic Lead can increase the Max Dam, and only by 1. The other methods for increasing Max Dam remain the same; ie Dual Wielding and Two Handed Attacks.

Magical damage has had a similar overhaul; where before the Core Rules stated (pg67) that each card that was higher than twice the target's POW, or a Diamond, is a Damaging card, we have removed the Diamond statement. Now, a caster may exchange 2 Aether of a successful damaging spell per increase of 1 to Max Dam. So an Aether 8 damaging spell may cause 6 Aether in damage with a +1 to Max Dam. Dramatic Leads on the castng Skill checks also add 1 to the maximum damage.

These changes, although small in detail, affect a larger scope of the game. The issue of balance is probably one of the most important aspect of a new game, one we hope we are working towards resolving. 

On another note, we are planning the next phase of high end game testing, possibly this weekend. We had toyed with making various builds using 75xp, 100xp and now 150xp. The characters built are advanced enough to be true wrecking balls in any combat, and the enemies they can face would squash any lesser combatants. However, what we've been unable to test so far, is how they fare in a story situation. Do the spread of skills they garner enough to allow them better manipulation of the game world, or are we spending too many points on Talents and Attributes? 

Also, I am making available the first suppliment to the Core Rules, Monsters of Karth. Although this is far from finished, it shows some fine examples of what you can achieve using the Creature Features presented in the Core Rules. Go to the Downloads section of this blog, or the direct link to the Drop Box location for it. Enjoy!


More info to follow....

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Storming the Library

Sunday's game session was a special entry into our group's game history. We gave a trial run to using Terraclips for our dungeon layout. We used the Dungeon Rise - Dungeon Essentials set and I must say, even with a little bit of extra time needed to set up, this was awesome. We played down at Good Games Hurstville, my local gaming store, amoung about a dozen groups playing their own games, mostly card games. The set up was quite cool, and we had a few people come over and check us out while we played.

The photo below is of the final fight of the chapter, after a few puzzles and traps and a relatively easy fight against some giant spiders, they discovered a library deep within the buried crypts. There were a few skeletal archers guarding a spectral figure that was using the library (or haunting it) and the fight ended up being a fine example of planning and teamwork. We got to see some experimentation with creative spell casting and combining effects from multiple casters to achieve results. I felt that the rules we were testing were capable of supporting the various tactics used by the players, and that the few issues we raised were able to be corrected with minor adjustments to the established guidelines.

The issues we encountered were:

  • Although the Core Rules do not have a section on combined casting, it is one of the additional elements being planned for release in one of the spell casting supplements.
  • Talents are not being activated enough to make a difference to gameplay (only about 1 every other game) due to the cards required to activate being hard to gain. A solution is to incorporate Jokers into the decks to act as Wild Cards, having a value of 10 and being any Face Card required.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Moving forward to Release!

Another round of tweaks and proof reading done! This time we've introduced the mechanic of Wounds. This added a level of survivability to our characters, but also consequences of battle that last. These Wounds come in three categories; Light , Moderate and Severe. Each level soaks up a set number of damage to the Hand and in it's place you get a penalty to Play until the wound heals. This can take up to 4 weeks for a Severe Wound.

The different categories of npcs (Mook, NPC and Major Character) take different amounts of Wounds; A Mook can take no Wounds, an NPC may take a Moderate and a Major Character may take the full gamut.

Our latest game was a fun, Colin and Adri joined me at the local gaming store which just opened up. Good Games Hurstville had plenty of room for lots of people to gather and play their favourite games, and although their stock on hand was a little limited, they still had some golden products to check out. The staff, particularly Jamie, were very friendly and I'll definitely be coming back again. Their displays were of particular note, and have introduced to me Terraclips. I do believe I'll be scooping up a set or two of these amazing set ups.

Check out the store, and coming in and support local gaming at it's finest.

http://www.goodgames.com.au/stores/nsw/hurstville.html

On a related note, here is an example of play from Saturday's game:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/d1z07dum9h6sxzt/Example.pdf

Game on!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Autumn is Here!

Goodbye Summer, hello Autumn!

Today marks the official end of Summer (in the land of Oz at any rate) and to celebrate we're annoucing the suppliments in production stages for Hands of Fate.

The first suppliment is Monsters of Karth; a look at various critters and baddies to be found in Karth, the game setting for Hands of Fate. Thank you to those who offered contributions to add to the bestiary, and keep em coming in. PM me if you have more ideas you'd like to see in the game, and I'll work on adding it before the final draft is finished. We plan on offering Monsters of Karth as a free download, in PDF format, so stay tuned for it's release.

A Guide to Karth; a game setting information guide with a story preceding each chapter recounting one Imperial's journeys about the continent, exposing the various cultures and regions, while leaving large tracts open to discovery in your own games. A Guide to Karth builds on the brief descriptions given in the Core Rules, and adds depth and flavour to your games. Each chapter also provides several plot ideas by detailing various faction struggles in each area.

Ars Academia; the first Magic oriented suppliment expanding on the Sorcery rules found in the Core Rules. The various chapters will include setting information for running Academia Alchemica themed adventures, expanded magic item creation rules, spell lists for different skill levels and styles, and information on rivals and enemies of the Academy.

Return of the Weaver; A full multi-session adventure for Hands of Fate. Bringing old religions back into power, facing off against powerful Imperial houses and their scions, prophecies and giant fricken SPIDERS! The heroes are hired to undertake a dangerous mission for a mysterious young prophet, and soon find themselves out of their league when they learn they are responsible for the fate of gods.

Behind the Throne; a deeper look at the devious and subtle powers of Enchantments. Each chapter will include information on the use of illusion and charms to gather power, and the consequences of failure. More spells, more setting information and some NPCs for GMs to use as either the powers behind the throne, or the teachers of forbidden arts. A new society of Enchanters, called the Oculus, is introduced. Master manipulators and shadow players - are they the true power in the Empire?

Also, the Core Rules is just about ready for sale, and we anticipate a mid-March release date. Stay tuned, HoFers!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Moving Forward

Version 0.6 is complete! This milestone marks the completion of the Core Rules book, and is ready for online digital print sales. The PDF has bookmarks and indexed links to all the tables and chapters, making for ease of use on your tablets or PCs. In this state I have begun spreading the word, and getting the game out there to people for testing and feedback beyond my immediate group of gamers. I'm looking forward to the comments and suggestions on the state of play, and if there is anyone out there who would like to test it, please send me an email with some details about yourself and your group. I'm looking for new and old gamers, as they both have perspectives to offer that are unique and equally valuable.

I'm also thinking up some marketing strategies, such as discounts for online members (members of what? you ask...yeah I'm not sure yet either - stay tuned) and of course all the testers will receive either discounts, or even free copies as gifts depending on their level of involvement.

As it is, the product is looking to hover around 160 pages, and as far as setting information goes I consider it 'lite'. I intend to produce a couple of supplements at the same time, perhaps even free, to better illustrate the setting in the players' minds. There will also be an extended Bestiary, which is already in production stages, as the one in the book is merely meant to serve as an example of how easy this system is to create NPCs and monsters on the fly. There will be more supplements based around the different versions of magic, as each style has great potential for expanding and creating fantastic stories about. I've always been a fan of free style magic in games and this is a chance for me to truly flex my creative muscles in this regard.

So anyway, moving forward, I intend to release the product to the general public soon once playtesting of a few of the lesser tested areas gets...well, tested.

Stay Sharp!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Character Generation Peek

Here is a snippet from the Character Gen chapter, a cheat sheet or breakdown on how to build a character. Players can use this to help guide them during this process, and show them how to fill out the character sheets. This is an important step as know where to find information on these sheets in a timely fashion helps to move the game forward.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Second attempt

Thanks for those that gave me some feedback about the cover, constructive criticism is what I'm after and that's what I got. The general design was acceptable, but the wording was a little hard to read. I've toyed with the molten iron look and come up with another design, one I'm much happier with.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Cover Artwork!

I'm very excited to present the first draft for the cover of the printed copy of the Core Rules. I spent several hours on it, toiling away on photoshop to create the effects I desired, and if anyone has any feedback let me know as I am eager to hear what people think.

I may end up changing the text on the front, maybe get a hot glowing iron effect for the main title.

What are your first impressions?



Friday, 1 February 2013

Non-Human Races of Karth

Alfari
The Alfari Ascendency was once a massive nation of elves, who over time were corrupted by the pursuit of Sorcery, demonology and other more vile magic. They became twisted and perverse, enslaving other races in Karth and eventually were destroyed through a combination of their own depravity and the heroic uprising of the young Karthi Barbarians. Now, they are a savage and degenerate peoples, living in the wilderness in tribes and small communities. They war constantly with each other and prey upon any and every community not their own. They still wield powerful magic in the form of spirits and demons bound to fetishes by wicked shamans, although they are a shadow of their former power. They have been known for cannibalism and savagery of almost bestial quality. A few, however, have become unchained from their society's vicious cycles. Whether through compassion for an orphaned Alfari child, or more sinister reasons, some become functioning, if somewhat untrusted and hated, members of Karthi society. The Empire welcomes cosmopolitanism and recognises anyone's desire to live under Imperial rule. Alfari characters still possess some of the agility of their ancestors, and receive the Talent Agile, allowing them to add their Cunning to any one Reflex based Skill check once per day. They also receive the Talent Untrusted, which causes all NPC Attitudes to automatically be 1 level lower when they are first met.

Bolfi
Known throughout the Empire as Dwarves, the Bolfi generally keep to themselves, and rarely venture out of the mountains they call home. They have in the past traded with the Empire and Karthi before them, but the industrialist Empire has begun encroaching on their domain for the purpose of mining. The Karthi call them Stonefolk, due to their ashen, almost grey stone-like skin. They were enslaved by the Alfari as well, and respected the Karthi warriors as instrumental to overthrowing them. The Empire, not so much. No Bolfi will sit and be called a Dwarf without challenging the honour of the offender, and their quick tempers are legendary. Stout, strong backed and the most loyal of allies, Stonefolk characters receive the Talent Hardy, which allows them to add their Power to any one Resilience based Skill check once per day. They must also receive the Talent Stout, which reduces their Movement rate by 1 square.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Karth - Game Setting for HoF

Today we have another excerpt from the Hands of Fate Core Rules book. The game world is one of brutality and cruelty, where death is an every day threat. As many people die by sword and axe as natural causes, and bloodshed is everywhere.

Karth is a land dominated by two main societies – The Imperials and the indigenous Karthi. There are 5 main cities dotting the coast and inland, with many villages and town scattering in between. The majority of the settlements are clan holdings, governed by proxy from the nearest Imperial Outposts, forced to supply a tribute or tax to support the conquering Empire. The fierce, strong barbarians have fared well under Imperial rule and after a decade of peace they have nearly ceased to chafe under foreign leadership. Education is better than it has been in generations, clan warfare is not as prevalent as years past, and a centralised government has stabilised the chaotic lifestyle of the barbarians somewhat. The land itself is far from tame, however, and dangers exist that would curdle a man's blood, enemies ancient and new ready to begin their campaigns of terror and evil. It is a land ripe for an adventurer with the mettle and desire to make a name for themselves, a land of old hatreds and forgotten horrors. A land where the complacency of peace is a dangerous thing.

The Empire From far off over the seas came the Empire, conquerors and merchants all. Their advanced weaponry and disciplined warriors overcame the local Karth populace nearly 15 years ago, slaying the last Clan King of Karth and dissolving the ancestral ruler-ship of its people. Now, the High Magistrate governs Karth and manages its tribute and taxes to be sent back to the Emperor in the capital city of Corah. New Corah, once named Tir before the invaders, is the main outpost of Imperial rule. The barbarians of Karth, although resent being conquered have prospered under the Empire for nearly a decade.

Recently, there has been turmoil due to the latest High Magistrate’s draconian governance and the people are beginning to chafe. Imperial civilians are considered pioneers and profiteers. They have a natural knack for commerce and venerate the twin deities Loran and Lokan, mythical founders of the Empire. Karth Imperials are hardy folk not afraid to do hard work, although there is a large percentage of criminals due to the original plan to make the colony penal. Their penchant for trade grants all Imperial characters the Talent
Acumen, which allows them to add their Cunning to any one Manipulation based Skill check once per day. They must also receive the Talent Social Station which gives any opponent who is perceived to be of a higher social status a bonus equal to their Cunning to any Manipulation based Skill checks made against the character.

Karthi The Karthi is the collective term for native Karth inhabitants, who for hundreds of generations were the rulers of Karth. Millennia ago their ancestors overthrew the degenerate Alfari Ascendancy, and banished the survivors to the wilds. Their society is paternal and favours displays of strength and fortitude. Rule was ancestral and its kings could trace their lineage back through time to the original warriors who slew their Alfari oppressors. Having no outright ruler of its people meant they were naturally factitious and divided, which the Empire used to its advantage in conquering them. In general, most Karthi have accepted Imperial rule, as it has done a fair job of maintaining peace and allowed the Karthi to focus on pursuits other than perpetual clan warfare, although outlying settlements still engage in it. Taller and stockier than Imperials, but not as refined or ‘cultured’, Karthi characters have the Talent Might, which allows them to add their Power to any one Strength based Skill check once per day. They also gain the Talent Superstitious, which causes a -2 penalty to Total on any resist or defence Skill check against magic.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Game Play - 1 session

The session started out with the players building their characters. We had two Imperials, Dolus, a militant priest of the Imperial Cult of Duality - venerating Lokan of War rather than Loran of Commerce - and the other was Porthius, a Skorovian Imperial noble. Joining them was Kessen, an Alfari trickster and aspiring Assassin's Guild hopeful, who was sometimes employed by the noble's family. The noble and the priest had distant family ties, and were on equal 'Social Status'. This was important because Imperial characters start with the Negative Racial Trait that gives penalties when dealing with other characters of a perceived higher social status. Dolus opted to take the standard Imperial package, meaning he also starts with the Positive Racial Talent 'Acumen' which grants a daily bonus to negotiations and diplomacy checks. Porthius chose the Skorovian Racial Talent of 'All the Glitters' to receive a 5% increase on money earnt from trade or wages.

Kessen took the standard Alfari Racial Talents of 'Agile' and 'Untrusted'. These granted a daily bonus to Reflex checks and an automatic -1 to attitudes of newly met NPCs. He also chose Enchantments as his primary vocation and used a bow to back him up.

Dolus equiped himself with heavy armour, a battle axe and shield. Porthius chose to dual wield rapier and main gauche, and wished to play a foppish scoundrel of a noble.

The story begins as Dolus learns of an ill-fated caravan that suffered many set backs on its way to Skoro from the desert cities of the North. They lost several guards in an attack by Waster bandits and more to a sandstorm that forced them to seek shelter in a ruin that was uncovered by winds. The shelter held hidden horrors and the remaining caravaneers fled, leaving behind their wagon of spices and silks and the remaining guards were killed. The Temple hierachy were interested to know if the ruins belonged to an ancient Alfari Ascendancy outpost that was lost thousands of years ago, and if there were any artefacts remaining inside. Dolus recruited his friends to assist in the task, and their first step was to talk to the surviving caravaneers.

They found the hapless fellows drowning their sorrows in the Broken Drum Tavern near the trade markets in Skoro, and Kessen approached them. He opened with a sympathetic comment, but his Alfari heritage betrayed him and the already Annoyed caravaneers became Angry at him, thinking he had come to gloat. The Dolus stepped in with a round of drinks to ease tensions and Kessen proved he had the gift of the gab, talking them down and calming them. When they learned that the characters were interested in finding the ruins, they assumed they had taken the bounty to recover their wagon. Ever the oppotunist, Porthius took the job and secured exclusive rights to the bounty by paying a guarantee of 50GC to the impoverished merchants. On top of losing their shipment, the caravaneers explained that the local Order of the Bear, the mercenary unit who leased the guards, expected immediate payment for the services of the guards. Without the shipment, the caravaneers could not afford to pay, however, and they beseeched the players to intervene by sweetening the bounty on the shipment by 20%. They agreed.

Kassen knew that the Order of the Bear runs it's business from the predominantly Karthi Winking Lizard Inn, and upon arrival were treated to a bareknuckle fist fight between two patrons. Porthius once again proved to be the oppotunist and placed a winning wager on the 'one with the blue sash'. After the fight the characters learnt that the chapter master was none other than the 'one with the blue sash' and celebrated his victory by buying him an ale. The big man and Kassen got right down to business, and Kassen had carefully disguised his features with his hood. With Dolus also discussing the terms of the caravaneers' contract, Kassen used his subtle enchantment spell 'Beguile' to slowly turn the chapter master's attitudes to Friendly, and soon the characters had a deal with the Order of the Bear to delay payment of the contract until the shipment is returned.

With horses borrowed from the Imperial Cult, and an official exclusive bounty writ, the party began the arduous trek through the desert, 6 days to the north. On the way they encountered another caravan, who neither knew of the ruins, nor of any bandit raids lately. Dolus used his benedictions to grant extended sight to Porthius, who found the remains of a previous bandit raid and they managed to salvage a locked chest buried in the sand. Inside were some coins, some gems and some potions that grant extended health for 1 hour.

At the end of the journey, Porthius gained a level of Exposure due to the heat, and they arrived otherwise unharmed. The ruins were mostly scattered buildings, with one tower mostly collapsed, and a larger complex still buried in a sand dune. There was no sign of the guards bodies, but there was footprints in the sand, and recent ones at that. They set camp for the night and set a watch.

During the middle watch, Dolus spotted a light flitting between some stone blocks and went to investigate. He spotted a glowing, diaphinous figure searching through the ruins, and snuck back to camp and woke everyone. Kassen readied his bow and went to scout their location while the others prepared their armour and put out their fire. It wasn't long before Kassen spotted several Haunts converging on the camp and he used a Ventriloquism spell to warn his comrades of the impending attack. With not a moment to spare, Dolus and Porthius avoided the first round of attacks, but learnt the hard way that their weapons were unable to harm the Haunts. Dolus called on Lokan to aid them and Porthius' rapier glowed with a faint aura of light. With his weapon suitably enchanted Porthius struck at the ghosts and was able to destroy one. Kassen meanwhile used a Fine Illusion spell to create an image of an attacking Dolus rushing at the ghosts. While the phantoms and phantasms battled, Dolus enchanted his own axe and together with Porthius they finished off the simple minded ghosts. The ghostly forms destroyed, the heroes witnessed the Haunts' wispy essence being sucked into a darkened entrance into the building half-buried by the dunes.

Next game - The heroes go to investigate the ruins further, and attempt to uncover what horrors lair within!

This game was played using version 0.555 of Hands of Fate, with part of the story decided upon by the players, as a result of their characters taking the lead when they pass Skill checks.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

First Peek - Introduction

To whet your appetites I present to you, the reader, the first page of the Introduction Chapter of the Core Rules book. More will follow, but for now...

What is this game?
This is a work in progress containing a core rules system designed with one thing in mind – Roleplaying. These rules are inspired by a variety of muses, pooling from experience playing many different game systems and playing styles. But enough of me, what's this all about? A roleplaying game is a game about telling stories. In that story are characters. The main characters, the stars, are played by the players. One player is designated as the Games Master, or GM, and their job is to guide the story and mediate the rules. The GM sets the scene, detailing what the players see, and takes the role of all the other characters and extras that fill the game world. Although the system was designed with a fantasy setting in mind, the rules are easily adapted to any genre. It's the players' and GM's choice if magic is available or not, or whether any religions are in the world. There is a stock game world supplied with these rules, but it's use is entirely up to you. YOU decide who the gods are, who the rulers of the kingdoms are, who the the villains are. This is YOUR story. Enjoy.

Nomenclature
Throughout this rules set, we refer to cards using two letters or a number and letter representing the value and the suit. King of Spades, for example, is KS. Seven of Hearts is 7H. An Ace is always a 1. A Face card is a King, Queen or Jack, and is used to activate Talents. They hold a value of 10 and follow the same rules for Trumping as regular cards. To Trump a card is to match a card with another card of a lesser value, or a same value with a better suit. The Effect is the value of a card when compared to others, usually when attempting to Trump an opponent’s Play. The Play is the number of cards used in a Skill Check. A Total is the sum of all the cards in a Play. The highest value card in a Play is called the Lead. When referring to an Attribute we are talking about the 9 core abilities that every character possesses; Strength, Resilience, Speed, Deduction, Intuition, Retention, Reflex, Wits and Manipulation. Aptitudes are the root statistics tied to Attributes; Power, Intelligence and Cunning. The Forte and Weakness is the highest and lowest Aptitude, respectively. A Skill is a measure of a character’s expertise in different areas. The Pool is the deck/s of cards in the middle of the table, not being used for players’ Hands. As players and characters use Skills and play cards from their Hand, they are replenished each round from the Pool. Characters controlled by the players are called Player Characters, or PCs, and characters controlled by the GM are called Non-Player Characters, or NPCs.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

19 Questions about Hands of Fate

This post is about answering some design questions that were posed in an older blog that I find still useful and informative. It’s helped me realize more about the system that I’m developing than a simple read through of the rules would, and the motivations behind some of the decisions I’ve made are revealed. I’m referencing an article found here and without further ado, the questions:
1] What is HoF about?   HoF is about struggling to survive and bring light to a brutal world of dark fantasy. It is also about creating a collaborative role-playing experience by getting the players involved in creating the story as well.
2] What do the Characters do? They work together to form teams strong enough to make a name for themselves and amass power and reputation.
3] What do the Players do? Manage the use of cards to represent the capabilities of their characters, and take part in steering the story by placing their characters in the limelight.
4] How does the HoF setting reinforce what the game is about? The setting describes a world where people live by the sword and there is little in the way of civilization outside of the cities. The protectors of the realm were not too long ago invaders, and they may be too spread out to make a difference. It is up to characters like the PC’s to try and stem the growing tide of evil.
5] How does the Character Creation of HoF reinforce what the game is about? Character creation allows the players to create any sort of role they wish to play, unfettered by archetypes that limit their capabilities. They can play a magic wielding, sword chopping, and armour clad hero if they wish. Their vision of what their character should be is what drives the development of the character during creation.
6] What types of behaviours/play styles does HoF reward (or punish)? HoF encourages participation, by involving the player in the story creation. When characters step up, their results are not just dictated by the roll of a die, or play of a card; they gain control of the storytelling itself. The GM moderates the telling and prompts for responses. Extra XP is awarded for good storytelling and interesting twists that develop because of player input.
7] How are behaviours / play styles rewarded or punish in HoF? As mentioned, XP is awarded immediately for great player created input, as opposed to generic awards at the end of a session or chapter. Players who choose not to participate, who stay back and just watch, trail behind the others in growth. Players who abuse the narrative privileges find complications and difficulties arising to compensate.
8] How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in HoF? The GM’s responsibility is to moderate the story, and to ensure that balance is maintained. The players must make a conscious effort to put their characters into the story, take action, and take a turn at telling how their actions pan out. The GM must create scenarios that ensure the players have a chance to enact their role.
9] What does HoF do to command the players’ attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?) Since the players have a measure of control over how events pan out, they become more connected to the story than in other styles. The lethal combat system means every encounter can be extremely dangerous and multiple opponents are bad news. Players must think carefully before committing their characters to a fight.
10] What are the resolution mechanics of HoF like? The use of playing cards as opposed to dice allows a broader range of modification to the results, to better simulate different effects and conditions. Comparing individual card values in a combat exchange is one example, defending against an attack is a conscious action that means counter attacks have pros and cons, such as weapon speed. Holding cards in the Hand allows players to plan for large or well executed attacks and actions, and the loss of these cards from the Hand represents more chaos in a scene.
11] How do the mechanics of HoF reinforce what the game is about? The ability to plan for actions by using cards held in the Hand allows the players to put themselves in the limelight and take control of the narrative. During combat it allows for more tactical responses to enemy actions, and outside of combat it allows for cinematic ‘coolness’ actions.
12] Do characters in HoF advance? If so, how? The awarding of Experience Points allows the players to spend these points directly on how they envision their character growing. The lack of character ‘Levels’ means the advance of each character is not linear, but growth is deliberate and exactly how the player envisions their character growing. XP is spent on Skills, Talents and Attributes to advance the characters, and increases derived statistics appropriately.
13] How does the character advancement reinforce what Hof is about? By giving more power to the players to steer their characters’ growth how they wish, it enables them to tailor the actions they wish to be good at, and thus have a greater chance of controlling the story.
14] What sort of product or effect do I want HoF to produce in or for the players? HoF aims at establishing a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from contributing to a great story. Each player can add to the story elements that they themselves find ‘cool’ or fun. I also wish to ensure that players maintain a constant healthy fear of character death, as combat should always be a risky endeavour, not just a means to an end or sources of experience points.
15] What areas of HoF receive extra attention and colour? Why? The 4 magic systems, especially Sorcery, needed a lot of detail as the concepts behind them can be difficult to convey. The free-form style of Sorcery and Benedictions needed a solid framework to build on, and in trying to develop this there needed to be a lot of information put down. Hopefully in the future there will be supplements to build on the concepts, providing more flavour and examples of use to better illustrate how they can be used. Conditions play an important aspect to combat and gameplay, and it was important to provide a solid list of possible ways to hamper and disadvantage characters in play besides plain vanilla damage.
16] Which part of Hof am I excited about or interested in and why? I’m very excited to see how stories pan out when everyone takes part in it. There is bound to be plots that end up so whacky and twisted that they would make for excellent experiences for everyone. Players plotting against each other, or teaming up against the GM, there is potential for tension in almost every action taken. The brutality of the combat makes for fun, visceral encounters and already in play testing we’ve got favourite events that we mention again and again. Damn you archers!
17] Where does HoF take the players that other games cant, don’t or won’t? There is no road to create impossibly tough warriors, no fight that might not end up with the death of a character, there is no hand holding or nursing through early levels of play. With players investing so much in the story by being a part of it’s very creation the threat of it all ending at the point of a sword is very real. This makes victory that much sweeter, and glorious sacrifice meaning so much more.
18] What are my publishing goals for HoF? Publishing in Digital Media, in the form of downloadable PDFs and utilising a Print On Demand feature of the publishing website. I plan to take advantage of RPGnow.com and their exclusive publishing offer and hopefully it will gather some interest. I am not building this game with the sole purpose of profit, but making a little cash out of it means the wife will let me play more games and spend time on my hobbies (instead of mowing lawns and washing dishes – unless she reads this, in which case yes, honey, I’ll do the lawn when I’ve finished this upload).
19] Who is my target audience? While it takes a certain person to be interested in RPG’s in general , we as a subculture have our own divisions and sub-subcultures. People interested in HoF I hope to be people who put the story telling aspect of a game above all else, and who enjoy tactical combat that does not involve hours of hammering on to  bosses and slowly witling away a pool of health. Obviously the more experienced players will understand a lot of the reasons why HoF is different, but I hope that newer gamers will also find it interesting.
Thanks for reading, I hope these questions have answered a lot of questions and piqued interest in more mind. If anyone wants to learn more I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.