Friday, 13 November 2015

Book 2 Teaser

As I've been hard at work writing the next installement of the Seth Donovan Novels, I thought I would offer a snippet and a teaser for avid readers. Above, is the first draft of the cover, and below is a portion of Chapter 3. If you want any more...well, you're just going to have to wait ;)

I sat at Maxine’s small conference table, admiring the bright pink nightgown she wore while nursing a coffee. She sat at her writing desk and stared out her fake porthole. I say it’s fake because although it looks exactly like a real one, in fact it’s a high definition hologram depicting the outside of the ship. She can program it to show absolutely anything, from deep space to nebulae, I even once saw her gazing out at a scene that showed us underwater. This time she had the real sensors on the ship relaying her the images of Jump Space. The light from the myriad patterns and colours lit her face up and painted it all manner of shades.
“Don’t stare for too long, you’ll go blind.” I said.
“Bull shit.” That was Max, blunt and cutting through the crap.
“Just a rumour, is all.”
“It’s beautiful. I could stare at it all day.”
“Is that why you’re cross eyed?”
She laughed and threw a pencil at me, “Arsehole.”
“Thought I’d pop up a bit early before the meeting. See how things are going.”
“How’s your pilot training with Crege?”
I grunted.
“That good, huh?”
“We shift into Gossamer in forty two hours. You going to be fit for duty then?”
“I should be. Leg’s healing well enough. Zoe tells me the nanites are almost done, but they itch like hell.”
“You big baby. Itching is good. Don’t let her catch you scratching at that nanite patch.”
I pulled my hand away from my thigh, where I had been subconsciously scratching at it. “What’s with all the meetings? Not happy with the plan?”
“There’s too many variables, too many what ifs. We’re running low on just about everything; food, manoeuvring fuel, spare parts, polycrete foam, credits. Most of all credits. We need some ideas on how to cash up for the repairs we sorely need. Any more damage and we run the risk of being labelled a Junker. Your grandfather will never let me live it down there.”
A Junker was a derogatory term for a ship that is perpetually poorly maintained. The shit boxes of the galaxy. Once a ship gains that kind of notoriety, it’s very hard to get rid of it. Finding good crew to run a Junker was next to impossible, but many low skilled space farers can sign on the Junker ships. You didn’t need a good reputation or a great resume to be hired on one of those. It was a vicious cycle.
“Old Hieron would understand. He already approves of you, it’s not like he can take the ship off you anyway.” Hieron Donovan was the longest serving Captain to ever own the Dreaming of Atmosphere. He held the job for over seventy years, and helped build the business and the reputation that the ship had in the Network. She was known as a reliable courier and hardworking ship, a model that all Captains since had worked to maintain. My grandfather was a somewhat eccentric Eridanian who retired many years ago and lives in seclusion on the tropical ocean world of Oceania in the Votus II System.
“Ha, don’t think for a moment that he wouldn’t fly out here just to chastise me for letting his ship fall into disrepute. He might even give it to someone else just to teach me a lesson.”
“Now that you mention it, he probably would. He’d probably relish the idea of coming out of retirement and being Captain one more time to finish the job.”
“If he does, he’s more than welcome to it.”
“Not a chance, his current wife would skin him alive.”
“Which one is his current wife? Elinda?”
“No, she left him about six years ago. Madeline is his seventh and current wife. Last time he wrote me though, he was having troubles again. He calls it his wandering eye.”
“He’s a dirty old man, is what he is. He needs to settle down with a woman his own age.”
“Ha, I don’t think anyone is his age. Let alone a woman who’d put up with this craziness.”
We both enjoyed a laugh, which died down to a comfortable silence, as we were both lost in thoughts of family and friends.
Max broke the silence first, “We should pay him a visit, when all this is over. Take a much-needed holiday. He’d want to know about Eric, and he should find out in person.”
“Agreed. He might even be able to find us a nice paying job as well. Votus II isn’t a bad system to work if you know people.”
“There’s something we need to talk about though.”
I sighed. I knew the score. “Have you talked to her yet?”
“No, I wanted to talk to you about her first. I want what’s best for both of you.”
“Okay. What do you want to know?”
“You’ve been together a couple of months now. Sorry if it’s being a little personal, but I need to know your intentions towards her.”
“Haven’t given it much thought, to be honest. Been taking it day by day. I love her, she loves me, and so far that’s been enough for both of us.”
“You know, and she knows, that she has a place here with us permanently if she wants it. We haven’t had a medical officer like her for a long time. Nevertheless, I know she has other commitments. Finishing her studies, for one. Her mother on Kanto Prime is another. She was hired under the pretence that this was an internship, I doubt her university would accept it if we just stole her from them.”
“What can they do?”
“They can sue, for one.”
“Under what grievance?”
“Loss of prestige. She is a rising star in cybernetics and biological augmentation. Universities like to pimp out their star pupils and alumni to big research initiatives and Corporations. They can sue for loss of prestige, which for them means less research grants and funding from governments.”
I thought hard. What should I do? I did not want to let her go, but I didn’t want to get in the way of her career. If she went back to studying, it would effectively mean the end of our relationship. There was no way I could ask her to wait for me, not when every time I go through a Jump Gate I lose three months of her life, six months if I want to come back. Alternatively, I also didn’t want her to be in danger as much as we had. Not all our jobs were as life threatening as this one, but they certainly weren’t always easy courier jobs. Even standard courier work can be dangerous. Space, to use a cliché, was dangerous by definition.
“I don’t know what to say. It can’t be my decision. That much I know.”
“You need to talk with her. Soon. Her year is already up; by rights we should already have had this chat with her a month ago.”
“Alright, I’ll try and bring it up with her sometime.”

I nodded, “Soon.”

Friday, 6 November 2015

Am I Iron Man?

Now that I'm trying my hand in earnest at writing, a few questions have started to pop into my head. I have several RPG products in circulation, a few samples of artwork created using various programs, and now a book. I'm not making a living from all these works, though. They're a hobby - a hobby that pays for itself mind you, but a hobby regardless.

I was asked a question at a social function the other day that I normally have no problem answering, but this time it gave me pause. The gentleman asked me "So, what do you do?" he was referring, of course, to how I make a living. I'm an electronics engineer by trade, working in the biomedical engineering industry. But to be honest, this is just my day job. To some, it might appear as if it was a career. I suppose it is, really.

But it's not my passion. I can't very well say "I'm a gamer!" because that would make him think I wasn't taking his question seriously. I was flush with pride at myself, at the time, from my recent release of my first novel and wanted to turn the conversation to that. So I smugly said "I'm a writer!"

Even as I said those words, I felt a little foolish. I don't make enough money writing (or publishing game books) to quit my day job, and I clearly spend more of my day fixing medical equipment than I do writing, but here I was proclaiming myself to be a writer. The next thing that came to mind was Tony Stark, during the movie Iron Man, when he blurted out "I am Iron Man!"

The more I thought about it, though, the more I actually liked the idea. I was writing. Almost every day, actually. I was enjoying it, and planning to do a lot more of it. As with my game books, I don't do it to make money, I do it for my own personal enjoyment. It sure would be great to be able to quit my 9-5 job and do something like writing fulltime, but that's a long way off from happening. I'm terrible at marketing, for example. I don't like paying for advertisement, I don't like endlessly posting on social media and I find it hard to talk about my work in a professional way (I just get so excited!).

I was reading through some other author's blogs, looking for nuggets of wisdom for breaking into the industry (or just about anything really), and stumbled across something that really struck a cord with me. It was on author Ben Bova's website at and under the Writing Tips section was a response to a written letter. I won't post the whole reply, but this paragraph sums up what I've been feeling, and why I answered that gentleman's question like I was Iron Man:
Ben, sir, you are a genius (and a bloody awesome writer).

<"The question, "Am I writer?" is irrelevant. The real question is, do you want to write? Writers write. You get up every morning and hit that keyboard. You get the words down and build stories. You might have to do other things to keep groceries in the pantry, but above and beyond everything else, you write."

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Book Launch!

The book Dreaming of Atmosphere was released today, making me officially a published author (beyond game books, that is). If you're a fan of science fiction, or aren't but looking for an excuse to be converted - give it a try! Book 2 is about 50% written, so if you read this and want more, have faith!

Go and get it!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Book Launch! Pre-Orders!

Get your Pre-Orders here!

Trying my hand at an actual novel, I present to you: Dreaming of Atmosphere.

Book one of a science fiction series set in the universe of Galaxy's End, the story follows the adventures of Seth Donovan - a frontiersman and interstellar traveller. As the First Mate on the starship Dreaming of Atmosphere, Seth and the rest of the crew get dragged into a job they really didn't want to be a part of.

Years ago, during an ill-fated campaign against a savage alien menace, Seth was a Star Marine who got left behind when the Protectorate Forces withdrew. After months of fighting tooth and nail just to survive, Seth managed to escape, horribly wounded and scarred mentally.

Now, a crime boss is holding the ship to ransom, hiding bombs throughout the Dreaming to ensure they perform a dangerous mission. The catch? The job will take Seth right back into the heart of the alien menace!

A true adventure drawing upon the authors own naval experiences for an authentic taste of what life would be like travelling the stars. There's murderous aliens, killer robots, evil corporations and devious technologies!

Available from now on Pre-Order, launching on the 1st of November 2015.

Get your Pre-Orders here!

Thursday, 17 September 2015


Readers may have noticed a distinct lack of updates on the blog, I thought it was due an explanation. So. What’s been going on?

As many mature gamers will know, Real Life has a tendency to take precedence over many of our hobbies, and this has pretty much been the case, however I can’t blame it entirely. Work has been busy as hell, taking up more and more of my free time, and as a result my various projects have had to be shelved for later times. Does this mean I’m not producing gaming products? No it does not. Does this mean there are delays on getting projects through to completion? Yes it does. Can you expect more products to become available for Ample and Hands of Fate? Yes you can!

One project that has been a major focus lately is my writing. Although I’m not going to use this platform to promote it (haha yes I am!) I will keep this site a focus on gaming, and discussions around that.

So what have I been doing? Glad you asked! Early November will see the release of my first novel in a series based in my science fiction universe that I began to construct in the Exile’s End rpg. While the roleplaying game focuses on a period shortly after galactic civilisation is beginning to recover, the novel is set during an earlier time – the Epoch of human civilisation. So why did I choose to write in this period? My local gaming group and I have been gaming like crazy in this period using the Ample Basic Rules. What started out as a campaign guide, exploded into a fully-fledged description of the entire section of the galaxy the party plays in.

Several months ago I planned to recreate this guide as a saleable product, an addition to the Ample range of products, however with the novel taking up a lot of my time I’ve had the chance to put it down and look at it again with fresh eyes. My new plan is to work on it some more, integrating into it a whole slew of changes to the Ample system that make it unique to the setting. The core of the system will remain the same, but I wanted to express the space opera feel of the ‘Votus-Eridani Network’ and give it the grand sweeping vista that it deserves.

When can we expect this to be ready? The honest answer is ‘Don’t Know”. It’s in the works. The more I play, the more I write, the more material and inspiration I can draw upon to flesh out the setting.  I want there to be a connection between the game and the book, something that readers of both can read and go ‘Ah! I know this part!’.

TL:DR – Still Writing, Galaxy’s End in production, Dreaming of Atmosphere (the novel) to be released on early November, stuff.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Wealth of Ideas for the Wealth System

In the Ample Basic Rules Book we introduced what you could call a ‘cashless’ wealth system. Using the Wealth Advantage, we tracked individual character’s money without keeping track of every single coin or credit. While this may work for some games (especially games that have little need for money to be anything but an abstract) it doesn’t work for all genres. As stated in the BRB; each system offered up for use is optional, and games masters are encouraged to pick and choose which ones to include and which ones to modify or ignore. The first campaign setting offered by Audio Samurai Games – Atlas City Almanac - uses the Wealth System as written in the BRB, but future settings will use modified versions to show how they can tweaked.

In the fantasy setting (which is still a work-in-progress) we do away with the Wealth System all together and stick to a more traditional coin based system. What we’re going to discuss today though, is the modified Wealth System we’re using for the Sci Fi setting of Galaxy’s End.

Modified Wealth System

In this system, we combine individual credit ratings with the Wealth Advantage – characters keep track of their own credits and choose to invest Advantage points in Wealth. The Wealth Advantage represents an overall assessment of a character’s, or an organisation’s, financial standing. It represents their income and available assets, rather than how many credits they have in their pockets. The Advantage is used during character generation to determine how many credits a starting character has available, and is used during play once per game session to grant a cash injection to the character. Aside from these uses, Wealth is used during larger purchases and business transactions, such as Starship buying, shipping cargo and mining.

The Advantage can be used as a group pool of resources available to the entire party, as well as funding for businesses and organisations.


For this system, as well as the fantasy setting coin based system, this leaves a gap in one of the uses of the Craft Skill; normally the Cost and Availability of an item are added together to give the number of successes needed to create an item. Without a Cost value expressed as points of Wealth, however, this won’t work. Instead, we introduce ‘Complexity’ in place of the old Cost value. Add this to Availability to get the number of successes needed for a Crafting Skill check. In the case of the fantasy setting, where we aren’t using Availability either, Complexity can be used in place of both (and thus get a higher value – Cost + Avail).

Food for thought, at any rate, for any budding campaign creators out there using Ample.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

New Setting, New Rules, New Ideas

Work is under way turning our local game of Ample RPG into something we can sell! We've been playing a Sci Fi themed RPG every other week at the local gaming store (Hall of Heroes) that's had so much campaign info added to it and enough tweaks and adages done that it would be foolish of us not to submit it as a viable campaign setting, much like the Atlas City Almanac. All that's needed is some nifty, and legal, artwork and some proof reading, editing and typesetting done and we're good to go.
So, if you're like me and get excited about Science Fiction Roleplaying genres, stay tuned for this little gem. We're playing in the universe that Exile's End explores but situated prior to the Collapse, during the epoch of mankind's technology and civilisation. The Destroyers were fought back, and haven't been seen for centuries, and the GEA is now a galaxy spanning civilisation called The Protectorate. The game so far focuses on a Network called the Votus-Eridani Network, which has plenty to do, tons of strife and potential trouble, ancient aliens, dirty politicians, mysterious factions and giant spaceships. There's enough far reaching issues that it has both a mixture of Space Opera and Hard Sci Fi.

Keep an eye out for more news regarding 'Galaxy's End'.

New Rule changes:
At the request of a few of our players we've gone back to have a look at the rules that govern automatic fire. The Burst Fire weapon Trait, which designates that a weapon can be used to make multiple attacks in a round, carries some guidelines in it's use. The current way to do it, is by allowing a character to make a number of extra attacks in a round equal to their Combat Skill, and all attacks suffer a Choke, while each subsequent attack suffers a cumulative Slide as with Secondary Actions. The complaint was that Burst Fire attacks were fairly ineffectual when used against someone who is using Active Defence. Their only purpose seemed to be to overwhelm someone who IS using Active Defence and get them to use up their allotted number of Defences each round (equal to their Combat Skill). Only through picking up the Auto Fire Advantage was Burst Fire achieving anything like what real short controlled bursts of gunfire were achieving.

So we revisited it and trialled a house rule where instead of a Choke, Burst Fire gave a Slide to the first attack, and then added more Slides as the attacks progressed. This seems to work better, and we'll look into updating the Basic Rules Book soon.