Archive for the ‘Game Design’ Category

So here I am happily generating zombies for an up coming YotZ product (87 generated tonight), and I’m looking at the stat blocks when I realise something I hadn’t thought of before. We often make reference to how quickly stores and warehouses are looted in the rising and how scarce supplies and ammo become. But we overlook one of the richest, if a little unreliable, sources of loot. The risen themselves.

For example, taking Marshall Tucker from Fleshmongers 2, at zero hour his stats are as follows:

Marshal Tucker (Tough Hero 3): CR 3; Medium-size humanoid; HD 3d10+9 plus 3; HP 29; Mas 17; Init +2;Spd 30 ft; Defense 17, touch 14, flatfooted 15 (+0 size,+2 Dex, +2 class, +3 equipment); BAB +2; Grap +4;
Atk +4 melee (1d4+2, Brass Knuckles), or +4 ranged (2d6+0, 10mm Glock); FS 5 ft by 5 ft; Reach 5 ft; SQ; AL Tuckers Band; SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +2; AP 1; Rep +1; Str 14, Dex 14, Con 17, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 12.
Occupation: Slaver (Drive, Knowledge [Tactics])
Skills: Drive +7, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (Streetwise) +3, Knowledge (Tactics) +5, Listen +3, Read/Write Language +1 (English, Spanish), Speak Language +1 (English, Spanish), Spot +7, Survival +5
Feats: Alertness, Armor Proficiency (light), Brawl, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Simple Weapons Proficiency
Talents (Tough Hero): Robust, Remain Conscious
Possessions: Undercover Vest, Brass Knuckles, 10mm Glock with 6 magazines, handcuffs, meth, cocaine, bottle of alcohol, 2002 Ford F-150 extended cab with cab over camper.

Looking at these stats, ignoring the usual elements, we see that Marshall at this point is reasonably well provisioned for the zero hour slot. But what if Marshall had been unlucky at zero hour. He would have risen, as per normal. But a lot of his equipment would have stayed about his person. Clearly, the vehicle is unlikely to be with him as a zombie (unless he was unfortunate enough to die locked inside), but the rest would still be on his shambling corpse.

There is a chance that he will have been shooting the Glock at the time of death, and this will have a high chance of being lost. The bottle of alcohol has a good chance of being dropped too. But the undercover vest will certainly still be on his body, the brass knuckles, extra magazines, handcuffs and drugs will be in his pockets. Clearly even at this stage Marshall is a walking post rising gold mine.

There is a thought that says we will have to be careful in what we put on our zombies in the future, as to not unbalance the game. But as Tim has proven, even parties with armoured vehicles can be beaten. They have to get out of the tank to pee sometime ūüėČ



It’s been a nice weekend for experimenting with some idea’s and getting the mapping hand back in practise.

Firstly, as noted in a previous post, I have been experimenting with the idea of ‘zombie cards’. An index card style system of zombie NPCs which will allow a YotZ GM to quickly assemble a small horde of risers, each with their own unique stats. I have now come up with the first draft of the design of these cards, so I share with you the zombie card design, using Mr Welby from Hold at all Costs 1 as the stat block.

Linked to this style of zombie presentation, is the NPC work I also mentioned earlier. I have continued writing on this project. Having immense fun trying to put myself into the shoes of these NPCs at the various stages of the rising (in this case from zero to 72 hours), and presenting a, hopefully, sensible and viable survival plan for each of them. Included in this is a rough description for what the NPCs is doing at the various stages, how the party could encounter the NPC and a stat block for each stage. Most of the stat blocks reflect changes in the NPCs equipment more than changes in level as the time scales are quite short.

Finally, I have opened up my mapping folders again, starting work on a Master Plan Modern range of roads and junctions. These I will be developing to allow use for both normal modern games and also post apocalyptic and YotZ. Below is the first map, which I am giving away as a freebie on this blog.

Download the full size version

Anyway, that’s a brief summary of the activities of the weekend, more to come.



Well, not a lot of new progress on products. As the title suggests, real work is getting in the way of publishing work. With 35k students all poised to return to Uni in 3 weeks, it’s all hands on deck getting everything ready, so I have been more than a little tired this week after work.

In addition our best mates got married on Tuesday, so Monday and Tuesday were right offs as far as writing was concerned.

On a more positive note, I have started a new floorplan set. Master Plan: Modern – Homes and Apartments will give a number of small houses and apartments, all nicely decorated and furnished. I am aiming this product at two distinct uses. Firstly the clean version can be used for burglary and such for our more nefarious characters, and a dirty version (blood splats optional) will be ideal for scavenging locations for a Post Apocalypse or YotZ game.

I am also trying out a new idea with this set of floorplans. Over the years I have built quite a few mapping objects, and for this set I am going to include the png files the objects used in the plans as well as the plans themselves. Hopefully, gm’s will find these useful for drawing their own maps. Who knows, but opinions are always welcome.

Finally, I have started on layout of Marauders 2 for YotZ so this should be with us in the next week or so.

Night all


Weekly Roundup

Posted: August 22, 2011 in Game Design
Tags: , ,

Well apart from the new StockArt Cover, there’s not alot to add. This week has mainly been dedicated to icing a cake for our friends combined Stag and Hen Party, hence forth known as a Sten Party (we suggested Hag Night, but the girls weren’t overly keen on that idea).

That said I have still managed to get a little work in on Pluto Rising (The first Dead Future adventure), mainly working on building the floorplans for the I.P.S.E. Pluto and getting some ideas down for nasty trick to spring on the party as they occur (usually as I am mapping a particular section and think “That would be fun to do here”). I’ve also managed a little more on Shadow of the Zombie, starting to work on the Jiang Shi (or Hopping Dead) from oriental myth.

I am finding that OneNote from Microsoft it a great tool for recording your idea’s and building up the various project I have on the go, and double useful when linked to SkyDrive so I can access the file anywhere I have Internet access. If you haven’t tried OneNote yet and have the Office Suite I seriously suggest you have a look, you won’t regret it.

Finally, I have picked up “Rise Britannia” again, and I am making some progress on the outline for this book.

Anyway, enough for tonight.


Not much to update this weekend, we have uploaded a new set of stock art from John Picot (Art by Shinkei: Robots 1) which is now available from RPGNow priced $3.50.

And whilst I am talking about John, it’s his Birthday today, so Happy Birthday John ūüôā

I have done some more work on Shadow of the Zombie and the Ghoul is now complete. Next stop Jiang Shi.

I have also started work mapping the decks of the SS Pluto (the Starship for the upcoming Dead Future Adventure “Pluto Rising”), with 2 of the 20 decks now mapped, and the 3rd in progress. As usual I am designing the decks ‘clean’ and will add a Dead Future layer with the blood, etc. This means that we can also use the Pluto for a d20 Future supplement at some point without major re-working.

Anyway that’s it for this weekend, more as it comes.

Nite all

Well apart from Shadow of the Zombie, I am working on the first full Dead Future Adventure, which takes place nominally on the same ship covered in the Flavour text from Dead Future. I have been redesigning the ship and have currently got this design:

 This is a jump capable deep space explorer with a crew of a couple of hundred, decks will be arranged around the central lift shaft, and gravity plane will be in line with thrust (although the ship will have A.G. from the neutrino jump engines).

This adventure should then lead on to the second adventure on an asteroid mine, for which the maps are mainly done.

Anyway, I have work tomorrow so night all.

Ghoulish Delights

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Game Design

¬†¬†So I’m working on Shadow of the Zombie at the moment, being, as I have previously mentioned, a look at the shadier and more fantastical undead from Mythology and other media such a literature, film and video games. Of course no such work would be complete without the Ghoul or Ghul of Arabian Myth.

¬†The¬†ghŇęl¬†(literally¬†demon)¬†dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The¬†ghul¬†is a devilish type of¬†jinn¬†believed to be sired by¬†Iblis.

The Arabian ghoul is a desert-dwelling, shape shifting demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary travellers into the desert wastes to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, robs graves, drinks blood, steals coins and eats the dead, taking on the form of the one they previously ate.

It is clear from this description that these are a precursor to our more familiar flesh eating zombies, but they have a number of key differences. That they are attributed to demonic influences is the first, whereas a classic risers reason for being is left deliberately unexplored. They can shapeshift into animal form, as well as the form of one recently consumed, so clearly they are rooted in the magical or mystical. And they are said to lure travellers indicating a degree of intelligence or cunning not normally exhibited by our friendly, but mainly dumb classic zombie.

This concept of a zombie that can assume the form of someone recently consumed, started me thinking of how a Ghoul might manifest in Year of the Zombie, and how best to accomplish this remarkable ability in stat form for the book. What if the Ghoul consumed the living and dead for more than the base needs of a classic riser? What if they somehow took more from the victim than simple flesh which offered them no nutritional value what so ever.

The more I thought about this, the more I became excited by the idea of an almost ‘vampiric’ zombie that ate the flesh of the living and the dead to grow and somehow develop as a creature.

So I am now looking at a creature that at first resembles a classic zombie, being slow, somewhat dumb and ravenous in it’s appetite. However, it starts life a little smarter and more cunning, and more importantly not overly choosy over what it eats, living or risen. As the Ghoul feeds it starts to gain strength (hp and hd) which as it progresses, manifests as improved stats, skills and feats. The Ghoul prefers living victims (much as any zombie would) and gains more from consuming the flesh and life energy of the living than the dead, but can equally consume and advance from risen victims (albeit more slowly).

But how rare would such a creature be, whilst a  Draugr or a Lich might be 1 in a 100,000,000, Ghouls could be relatively common, perhaps 1 in 100,000. But wait I hear you say, we would be overrun with them. Not necessarily, as Ghouls start out life weak and dumb, much like a classic shambler. We could have encountered them numerous times, despatching them will relative ease and never the wiser. Only the strongest, most cunning and probably the luckiest would survive to advance in power. Even these creatures may be slain without ever thinking more than it was a powerful and tough riser, and so more fall to the survivors until perhaps only 1 in 100 Ghouls make it through to the higher power levels and abilities.

Obviously, I can go into too much detail at this point as I would a) have nothing new to put in the Shadow of the Zombie, and b) am still only playing with the idea’s above and have yet to translate them fully into a stat’d monster, but I thought I would share these¬†embryonic ideas with you and perhaps get some feedback on the Ghoul (such as it is now).

Night All


The Hacked Site Blues!

Posted: August 3, 2011 in Game Design, General

One of the great things about having your website hacked, is all the linked items which are destroyed resulting in hours of reconstructing the damn stuff.

I suppose there is always a silver lining though, as this is giving me the chance to review our product listings and standardise our product previews.

Just spent a couple of hours rebuilding the samples for a whole bunch of stock art, uploading them to the, now clean, server and editing each product listing to include the sample links. 14 products out of 165 done, yay go me….


However, I don’t want to let the “admin” work get in the way of other more creative tasks, so I am trying to split the load between new products and fixing old products.


I have re-started work on a Dead Future adventure, completely redesigning the starship design and underlying floorplans, which should lead me onto the next adventure for which the floorplans are all but finished. This first adventure will roughly parallel the diary entries from Dead Future, with the characters investigating, boarding and subsequently having to escape from a drifting Explorer vessel which is one of the first Dead Future rising points. From here I hope to plot the course of the survivors as they head back into the solar system and Earth, in a¬†dilapidated starship in much need of repair. In fact the state of the starship leads to the next adventure, putting into an asteroid mining facility to refuel and refit, of course Mr Hungry got there before them ūüôā

I also want to look at some parallel adventures taking place on Future Earth during the rising, but I think I may need to come up with a skirmish system for this as the risen verses mechanised troops will not necessarily lend itself to d20 Modern. More on this as the idea’s come.

Finally, I have been putting in some graft on Shadow of the Zombie, a sideline to the main YotZ theme which introduces more Shadow and FX into the game for those who want it. So far it’s been an interesting ride researching mythological zombie varients, zombies from literature, film and games. I have especially enjoyed developing the Bokor class for this, with Voodoo being a perfect example of FX in a zombie setting. The Bokor will provide some interesting possibilities for Havens. Anyway, on with the book, I gotta get the Draugr finished tonight before bed.

Later Peoples


One of the great things with working with such a diverse and talented group of authors, is that you are often exposed to new game systems and ideas that you would otherwise miss out on.

Of course the downside to this, is that you are often laying out work for a system you haven’t used before, and thus mistakes are much harder to spot.

This came to light recently with Powder, Passion & Plunder. After releasing the product, Richard Fannon emailed me to let me know I had missed off the Composure track for the characters in the sample adventure.

“Have I?” I asked, “What’s one of those when it’s at home?”

Anyway, Richard explained it to me and sent over the corrected text, all fixed no problems. Of course, that’s the great thing about electronic publishing. If I had made that error in a traditional print operation I would have been left with a few thousand incorrect books and an errata section on the web site.

If you have purchased Passion, Powder & Plunder please download a new copy from RPGNow to obtain the updated version.

Thousand-faced Heros

Posted: July 10, 2009 in Game Design

Following the success of Limitless Horizons (pulp scifi for the FATE system) UKG Publishing are pleased to announce the upcoming product Thousand-Faced Heros, which will examine epic fantasy and provide FATE System rules for this genre. As usual this will include a sample campaign setting and adventure.