DriveThruRPG is holding its biggest annual sale...Christmas in July. Hundreds of digital titles are 25% off for the next ten days or so.
And that includes Murders & Acquisitions.
Tell your friends and enemies.
DriveThruRPG is holding its biggest annual sale...Christmas in July. Hundreds of digital titles are 25% off for the next ten days or so.
And that includes Murders & Acquisitions.
Tell your friends and enemies.
Hey there everyone.
A few quick items.
It's time to get some alpha playtesters for a new game that I've JUST barely started designing. I've put together the absolute minimum needed to play the game and need to see how the system works. If you're interested in giving it a whirl, email me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com. Put "Die Laughing Feedback" in the subject line.
The game is called Die Laughing. It's a 1-2 hour, GM-less story game. Players portray characters in a horror comedy movie. The dice function as a countdown clock to your character's death. Even after your character is gone, there are ways for you to remain active in and influence the story.
You can download it HERE. I simply ask that if you download it, please give it a whirl and provide feedback. I can't hold you to this, but I hope you'll be honest and not download unless you plan to play it. If the game gets some traction, I'll expand it with more characters, scenes, and monsters and make a real book with illustrations and all that good stuff.
I've got about ten playtest groups playtesting for this next round, including several groups that are brand new to the game. Time to find those little missing bits that I don't realize are missing cuz I'm too close to the game.
CAPERS is getting closer and closer to completion with every round of playtesting.
If you'd like to try it out for a one-shot playtest, email me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com. More eyes on the game will make it better.
The kind folks at the Don't Split the Podcast Network had me on to run a 4-hour actual play on Twitch a few weeks ago. They've broken the 4-hours up into multiple shorter audio-only podcast episodes HERE. If you want to see how CRAIG runs the game, here you go.
Make sure to check out there other podcasts. Great stuff all over that website.
In addition to the game making its way into a handful of game stores via Indie Press Revolution, M&A will be on sale at GenCon in the Indie Game Developer Network booth. I plan to also make it available at the IGDN booths at PAX Unplugged and the Midwinter Gaming Convention. More murderers will be acquired soon!
Beth Varni has been hard at work on a number of illustrations for CAPERS. I leave you with a look at a finely dressed fellow shooting people with his concussion beams AND flying (sort of) with those same beams pointed at the ground.
Back to work. Bye bye.
The next round of CAPERS playtesting will start in the next couple weeks. As I prepare, I've been reflecting on how I got to the point I'm at with the game design. There are a number of things that have been mentioned by playtesters that I thought I would address. I normally don't include design decision stuff in playtest documents, so I think it'll be of interest to the playtesters, as well as the rest of you, to see parts of my decision-making process.
This discussion is less about the specifics of rules text and math results and more about the core conceits of the design and how they've been addressed.
I set out to design a game about gangsters. Those gangsters have Powers. Or at least they CAN have Powers. There are rules for non-Powered characters. It's not a game about supers who happen to live in the 1920s and happen to be gangsters. This is an important distinction for me.
There are many supers RPGs out there. Most of them focus on the fact that the characters are superheroes and/or supervillains. CAPERS is about gangsters and feds first and Powers second. This distinction informs a variety of decisions I've made in the design.
Some playtesters have asked why Tommy guns are as damaging as Powers that deal damage. The reason for this is twofold. First, I want it to be a valid and worthwhile choice for a player to play a character that uses a Tommy gun and focuses his Power choices on utility Powers and things that make him better with a gun.
Second, this is not a game where the characters are fighting against super-powered baddies all the time. They're dealing with regular folk a lot of the time. I need guns to be real threats in these situations. None of the Powers are super-duper Powers. There is no Hulk or Superman. Characters with Powers are frail, or at least more frail than characters like Superman. Guns need to be a threat to such Powers. Every NPC needs to be a threat.
Powers in the game range across levels. Some only have one level of power. Some have 1-2 or 1-3 levels. Some range 1-5 in level. Some playtesters have asked about this discrepancy. Can't a Power that has two levels be expanded to have five levels like some of the others?
The decision to let the level range be what it is for different types of Powers falls on how this isn't strictly a game about supers who happen to be gangsters. The Powers that range 1-5 do so because they require Power Checks that can compare to Traits that can range 1-5 in relative power. The normal maximum for each Trait is 3, but Powers can be used to raise them as high as 5.
Traits and Powers ranging up to 5 have been balanced against each other. I hope. Still playtesting and tweaking.
Some playtesters have asked why there aren't options for dual-wielding, a full defense maneuver, multi-target/area of effect Powers, and burst fire for Tommy guns. After all, many games that handle combat in a more complex manner include such options.
CAPERS already uses a non-traditional mechanic (playing cards rather than dice) and utilizes a unique set of terms that players have to learn. Excluding these options is built on the idea of simplifying the game a bit.
Dual-wielding is, in essence, having two attacks per round. That exists in the game but requires expenditure of Moxie, a limited resource. Making dual-wielding a standard thing that costs nothing makes it preferable to other options that involve only one attack. That adds complexity and necessitates "amping up" a great deal of the rest of the system.
I opted to not include full defense in order to promote characters doing more active things. Full defense (and similar options) can slow the combat.
Multi-targeting is available in limited form for some Powers, but it has a cost. Making it easy to use, again, makes such an option much better than single-targeting. Area of effect Powers are limited to mostly non-damaging effects, and have a cost as well. You can do this stuff, but there's a downside.
Burst fire for Tommy guns is at the top end of problems already discussed. It adds significant complexity and makes Tommy guns that much more awesome. Even without burst fire, they're pretty awesome in the game. They're fucking Tommy guns, after all, and deal the best damage of the guns available.
Finally, if someone buys the game, it's no longer my game. It's THEIR game. There are people who will house rule/hack these things into the game, and that's fine. I just don't want to assume all players want that added level of complexity. CAPERS is "gamist," not "simulationist." Everyone plays with the same restrictions.
Some playtesters have commented that CAPERS seems to see more successes in the mechanics than failures. This is done on purpose. I want the game to be one where the characters succeed. Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of ways to fail and it happens a fair bit in the game. But I'm not interested in CAPERS being heavy on failure. There are games that do that, but this isn't one of them.
Additionally, there's a whole sub-set of "success" that is actually "success with complications." I like complications. They raise the stakes, make players think, and cause shifts in the immediate action as well as the entire story. They're engaging and I feel this makes the game better.
When I first started designing the playing card mechanic for CAPERS, I realized very quickly that "counting cards" would affect individual players' game play. The more cards you flip (before shuffling all the cards back together), the better sense you have of what cards are still in your deck. You may not be able to keep track of every card, but you can certainly know if the cards remaining in your stack tend toward high cards or tend toward low cards. You can keep track of whether you've flipped any of the jokers or aces.
I was initially fearful that players who aren't as good at this sort of thing might feel like they're at a disadvantage compared to those who play Poker regularly and have an easier time keeping track. My solution to this was to encourage the GM to call for all players to reshuffle their discarded cards (those already flipped) back into their decks. "Reset" the randomness, as it were.
My fears proved to be unfounded. In the early stages, many players remarked that the card counting aspect of the game was a feature, not a bug. It was engaging and exciting. If you're rolling a d20 each round, the chance you get a 20 is always the same. However, if you know you have a lot of face cards and aces in your deck, you might have your character take more chances, relying on the "inevitability" of those high cards saving your butt and making your character really rock.
Here's something I totally did NOT expect when I designed the playing card mechanic.
I've had multiple playtesters remark how ENGAGING the mechanic is. In some games, you roll a d20 and check for success. If you succeed, you roll damage, announce it, and move on. Maybe there's a resistance roll or saving throw or hit location in there. Each time, you roll and report.
BUT, with the CAPERS system, every card flip matters. You're constantly considering whether or not you'll gamble and flip another card to try for a better success. And...more importantly, the OTHER players are engaged in YOUR card flipping.
It's a group thing. Everyone loves a crit. But when you're gambling partial success on the CHANCE of a huge success, it draws the eyes of the other players. I've run may sessions where everyone at the table was shouting their thoughts and directions at the player who was flipping cards. They ALL rejoiced in an ace of spades flip.
It's pretty cool. And something I totally didn't expect to see when I laid out the groundwork of the game system.
I hope this helps explain some things for playtesters and gets others excited about trying out the game.
If you're interested in playtesting CAPERS, drop me a line at email@example.com and let me know. I'm looking for people brand new to the game to help me find holes in the manuscript. I'm too close to the design and can fill in the gaps in my head. I need people to tell me that I need an example here or clarification there.
Hey there. If you're on the NerdBurger Games mailing list, you can ignore this Blog post. I'm just throwing this out for those of you who aren't on the mailing list.
This is excerpted from the update I sent to people on the NerdBurger Games mailing list.
I have some requests to make of you. Take a look at the topics below and fire an email to me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com to help me out if you can.
Help Building this Mailing List?
I send an email to you via this mailing list about once per month. That was my promise and continues to be my promise. Only about once per month. If you know anyone who you think might enjoy the games I'm creating, tell them to email me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com with a request to be added to this mailing list.
The bigger I can make this mailing list, the more people I can get on board with NerdBurger Games. And that will mean the next game, CAPERS, will have a better chance of funding when I run a Kickstarter sometime in the first half of 2018. I want to keep bringing awesome games to all of you, but I need interest wherever I can find it.
Do You Want to Die Laughing?
While CAPERS is going strong, I've started to tinker with an idea for a new RPG, tentatively titled Die Laughing.
Die Laughing is a horror-comedy RPG that is intended to run in 1-2 hours, based on number of players involved. One of the biggest issues with many horror games is "what does a player do if their character dies?" The player can whip up a new character or play an NPC already introduced. But that's kind of a cop-out.
Die Laughing runs in a short period of time and the rules are built in such a way that even if your character dies, you still have cool and evocative ways you can influence the story. The hope is that even if a character dies early (and most of the characters WILL die), the player still has fun influencing the story in interesting ways.
The game is built on a simple set of rules and a series of cards. The cards help you define your character, set scenes for the game, and allow the Threat (the monster or whatever) to do things. It's a GM-less game where the "GM role" passes from player to player as they group tells the story. A unique dice mechanic involves each player having an individual pool of dice. This pool of dice decreases as the player's character runs through the story, In essence, the dice pool functions as a countdown to your character's death. Fun, right?
Die Laughing is in its most rudimentary form and I'm looking for a few people who can run some alpha tests to see how it runs. You'll need a total of 4-8 players including you to run a 1-2 hour session. More players means a longer session. If you're interested in giving the game an alpha spin, email me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com with the subject line "Die Laughing Alpha Playtest Request" or something like that.
Continuing Support for Games?
M&A was always intended to be an all-in-one game experience. CAPERS is similar.
BUT, maybe some of you want to see some additional PDF support for our games. If you're interested in such a thing, email me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com and let me know. If there's some interest, I might be persuaded to create some supplemental content for M&A (and eventually CAPERS and beyond). If interest is great enough, maybe I can set up a simple Patreon where people can throw in a couple bucks now and then to help me create such content that's more than just text on a page. Artwork and such. That costs money.
Whew. That about covers it. Thanks for reading this little (big) update. I hope to hear from you. Even if you don't want to playtest Die Laughing or whatnot, you're always welcome to drop me a line at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com and let me know how your M&A games have been going.
As always seems to be the case, things have been busy here in NerdBurgerLand. Here we go!
I've been working with graphic designer Owen on a bunch of stuff. Primary among those things is the game title. Here's a look at the first pass. It'll almost certainly change a bit and will be in color in its final form. But this is where we're starting.
CAPERS uses a standard Poker-style deck of playing cards (52 suit cards plus two jokers) rather than dice. Plans are underway for making a themed deck of playing cards available to Kickstarter backers as an add-on. No images to share just yet, but the back of the cards will feature the game title. Most of the faces will be your typical spades/hearts/diamonds/clubs stuff. Jacks, Queens, and Kings will feature illustrations of important NPCs in the game. The jokers will also be custom to the game.
My playtesters are putting the game through its paces again. This time around, the players get to create their own characters and try to push the limits of the rules and find broken combos that will need fixing.
Here's a glimpse of two new Powers that will be featured in the NEXT round of playtesting. The Power total has hit 40 and I think that's gonna be it. Plenty of options for players.
A few months ago, I joined the Indie Game Developer Network. The IGDN is a group of indie developers who share their talents with each other to build the indie side of the gaming world. I'm proud to be counted among these fine folks. Check 'em out.
A handy benefit of membership is found in the IDGN having booths at some of the larger gaming conventions. M&A will be on the shelves at the booths for GenCon and PAX Unplugged this year.
As soon as I order a bunch of books and ship them to the IGDN dude who gathers them all together.
If you're reading this, you probably already have a copy of Murders & Acquisitions. PDF version and two book options are available at DriveThruRPG.com.
In an effort to bring my first RPG to even more people, I've DOWNSIZED IT.
That is, I've created an edition of the game that removes the 5 chapters/70 pages of optional, add-on, mix-and-match rules. This version of the game is the 100-page, slim, "Downsized" version of the game containing only the base game without any of that additional stuff. It's still a complete game, with info for players and GMs, but it's as tight and slim as it can be.
Murders & Acquisitions Downsized is available in PDF form at DriveThruRPG.com for just $8.
It'll only ever be available in PDF form. The point of this edition is to offer up a game for single-digit dollars. If you have friends who are interested in the game but don't want to plunk down $15+, here's a nice option.
Quick update concerning one thing here. There's a more robust blog post in the works, one that will hit on what's happening with CAPERS and so forth. But...
I've been working on something called Murders & Acquisitions Downsized. What does that mean? Here are a couple of clues.
For several years now, the RPG publishing community has celebrated a little something called Free RPG Day.
Every year (this year it's on Saturday, June 17th), a bunch of RPG publishers create stuff to give out for free to help bring people into the hobby as well as reward longtime RPG lovers. If you're interested in checking out what's available for Free RPG Day, click the link above. You'll certainly find some cool stuff.
NerdBurger Games has been focused for the past several months on getting Murders & Acquisitions out for Kickstarter backers and for others with the game offered up at DriveThruRPG.com.
So, we didn't get anything put together in time to OFFICIALLY be part of Free RPG Day. But maybe we can do a little something?
Here's a little glimpse of what I'm planning.
What could this be?
Whatever it is, it's nearly finished. And it will see the light of day soon. Maybe on Saturday, June 17th.
If you're reading this, you're a special friend of NerdBurger Games. You're a person who has subscribed to the RSS feed for this blog or who has happened upon it in May of 2017.
As I type this on May 12th, we're celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Murders & Acquisitions Kickstarter hitting its base funding goal. That moment made this game real.
If you're reading this, you might already have a copy of M&A, in PDF or in book form...maybe both. But maybe you don't. And maybe you have friends who'd like a copy of the game!
To celebrate the one-year anniversary of M&A becoming a real thing, we're offering the PDF of the game for a discount. Normally it costs $15 at DriveThruRPG.com. This sale gets you the PDF of the game for $10.
Use THIS LINK to purchase the PDF of M&A for $10. Use it yourself. Feel free to share it with your gamer friends. Seriously, share it with your friends!
This offer is only available until the end of May, 2017, so grab your copy NOW!
Happy Anniversary to all of us!
Just a quick post for YOU, cuz you read this Blog.
I received some artwork from Beth Varni, who is doing ALL of the illustrations for CAPERS. If I EVER doubted my decision to have her do all of the illustrations (and for the record, I didn't), that doubt would be laid to rest with this.
And this is roughly 20% of the final illustration.
Hey all, time for some news on both CAPERS and Murders & Acquisitions.
Murders & Acquisitions has been available for purchase at DriveThruRPG.com for a few months now. And some people (other than backers) have bought it. YAY!
I've recently signed a contract with Indie Press Revolution to make M&A available through them. IPR is an online distributor, so you can buy the game just like at DTRPG. BUT, it also sells to retailers! I still have to finish up the NerdBurger Games page and get everything squared away, but copies of the book have been purchased and are on their way to the IPR warehouse.
So, with any luck, M&A will start popping up in at least some game stores in the next month or two! If your local game store doesn't buy games through Indie Press Revolution, you might want to let them know about IPR. IPR is a great outlet for small press and indie games that wouldn't otherwise be able to get wider distribution through normal channels.
Round 2 playtest feedback is in and I'm hard at work revising the game. My playtest groups provided ample feedback, which broke down into about forty bullet points of stuff I need to revisit. Future changes involve:
For Round 3 of playtesting, I'll be having playtesters create their own characters with orders to try combos and stretch rules to try to break the game. Gotta find those overpowered combos and bring them under control.
I'll be meeting with my graphic designer on Saturday to start working out a bunch of stuff.
James Introcaso of the World Builder Blog has begun work on a game design assignment. He'll be developing a toolbox of options that GMs can use to inject comic book/graphic novel tropes into the style and tone of the game. Things like "super-prisons" and "alternate Earths."
Beth Varni has begun work on illustrations for CAPERS. She'll be doing all of the artwork for the book and is beginning with concepting, following up with actual illustrations. Some of these illustrations will be in the eventual Kickstarter video, but all of them will be in the final book.
Here's a sample, a couple of ne'er-do-wells making plans to get rich from Prohibition:
A few other people will begin their work in the coming months.
All in all, things are going swimmingly. CAPERS is really starting to shape up.
CAPERS has entered Round 2 of playtesting. Four groups are hard at work picking apart the game mechanics, including the Powers. I should receive feedback by the end of the month. Then I move into revision mode and start getting ready for Round 3.
Here's a look at a few Powers that are in the current round of playtesting.
I've begun assembling the team who will help me put together the final CAPERS game. Here's a list of who is on board so far.
Mike, my podcast partner, friend, and layout guy for M&A, will do layout for CAPERS, as well as provide three full-page maps of Atlantic City, New York, and Chicago.
Owen St.Gelais, who played the game at a recent game day and is a graphic designer in real life, is going to help with graphic design.
Tim Eagon, who wrote a bunch of stuff for M&A, will design the Chicago backdrop.
Derek Kamal, of Shoreless Skies Publishing and a lot of other freelancing, will design the New York backdrop.
James Introcaso, of the Don't Split the Podcast Network and World Builder Blog, will be designing a fun toolbox of options for GMs to use to interject some comic book tropes into the game. Things like alternate Earths, super prisons, etc.
Beth Varni, who did a bunch of artwork for M&A (portfolio here), will provide even more artwork for CAPERS.
Karen Franklin, who was involved in proofreading M&A, will do copy editing and proofreading.
I've also booked Michelle Owczarski, my friend who made the M&A Kickstarter video, to do the KS video for CAPERS.
My thanks to the CAPERS team for getting on board. I'm looking forward to your contributions.
One of my playtest groups is comprised of the folks who make the Of Steam, Steel and Murder Actual Play Podcast. They posted their actual play recordings of the Round 1 playtest recently. Two parts. Check it out. It gives you a pretty good idea of how the game plays.
I've been developing a bunch of other stuff for the game while this round of playtest runs. Nothing dealing with the core rules. I'm waiting on playtest feedback before I touch much of that stuff. But how about expanded rules and new Powers!
I've worked out my budget for everything involved in getting CAPERS pulled together. And I've had my fingers in a variety of other things. This little game is starting to take shape.
Is "NerdBurger" the right name for a fan of NerdBurger Games? I'm not sure. That's what I'm gonna go with. If you have a better name I can use for fans of NerdBurger Games RPGs, let me know. Drop a comment here or email me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com
Anyway, here's the situation. After spending about a year getting the game sort of squared away and then running CAPERS through its first round of playtesting, I'm confident that this little game is going to become a reality at some point. I have a tentative plan in place regarding WHEN I'll bring CAPERS to Kickstarter, but I'm not ready to share that just yet. There are too many variable right now. But, please know the plan now is that this game is going to see the light of day, one way or the other, in time.
Following is a bunch of info that mostly doesn't have anything to do with current playtests. But I figure you might be interested in seeing where CAPERS stands right now.
I've completed game design revisions following my first round of playtests. Many thanks to my playtesters. I hope you enjoy the next round of playtests. I hope to get the second round of playtest info out to playtesters in early March.
I've also begun running a playtest campaign with some friends to try out a bunch of stuff and see how the game plays in person. We had our first game yesterday and all the players are enjoying things so far. More fun to come.
When I was developing Murders & Acquisitions, I brought that game to a variety of local conventions. I hope to do the same with CAPERS. I'm on the lookout for small, local conventions and game days where I can put the game in front of people. I'll continue to work on those plans.
I'm not in the position right now to take CAPERS to game days and small cons outside of the Atlanta area. That said, I'd be very happy to send playtest documents to people who would be interested in running the game for their friends at home or at a local game day or small, local convention. I'm always looking to build the NerdBurger Games audience. If you'd like to run the game, drop me a line at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com and I'll send you the current playtest info. I just ask that you help pimp NerdBurger Games (M&A included) and help me grow my little game company.
In time, as CAPERS gets more fully developed and we get closer to a future Kickstarter date for publishing the game, I'll be attending more conventions. I've got a long list of potentials. We'll see where that goes.
I'm looking to make appearances on podcasts to help promote NerdBurger Games and CAPERS.
Recently, I got online with the folks at The Wrecking Crew podcast to discuss CAPERS. These guys are playtesting the game and we talked a bunch about NerdBurger Games and CAPERS. You can check out the podcast HERE. They're a fine bunch of folks and have provided me with great insight into their particular play experience.
Check back in on the Podcasts page occasionally for future podcast appearances. I have a few possibilities lined up. Here's hoping they all happen.
My intention for Murders & Acquisitions was for the game book to read and look, in part, like an employee manual for a company. (Hence "Employee Manual" being a subtitle on the cover and the inclusion of a variety of charts and graphs in the interior.)
For CAPERS, my intention is to build the final game book to look a bit like a magazine from the 1920s. To that end, I've started researching magazines covers and interiors from the 1920s. These magazines feature distinctive fonts, illustration types, and formatting styles. It's been a fun process to look into what magazines looked like a century ago. As my plans for the game move forward, I hope to share some of the things I've found. Be on the lookout.
Many RPGs built around supers feature a few pages of comic book style pages somewhere within. I wasn't sure initially if this was appropriate to CAPERS, given that it's not really a "capes and cowls" type of supers game. It's more low-key.
After spending considerable thought on this, I've determined that a 4-page "comic" in the book is completely appropriate to the game. I've been in discussions recently with an artist to help me develop a 4-page comic/graphic novel style insert for the final game book.
This has put me on the road to researching how to script out such a comic. Yet another "hat" for me to wear as I work on my second RPG. It's been a fun process. If all goes well, there will be a 4-page comic/graphic novel style insert in the final game book.
But that's a ways down the road. We'll see how it pans out.
If you're reading this, you probably already purchase Murders & Acquisitions. Probably, you were a Kickstarter backer and have gotten the best price for the game.
However, if you're NOT a Kickstarter backer and haven't yet purchased the M&A book...
Or...if you have friends who are interested in M&A who haven't yet purchased the M&A book...
Email me at NerdBurgerGames@gmail.com for a small discount on the Murders & Acquisitions book.
Tell me what version of the book you'd like (PDF, softcover, or hardcover), and I'll send you a discount link. It's not a HUGE discount, but it'll save you a few bucks.
Kickstarter backers, please know that this discount isn't huge. You got the best price for the game. It's simply a slight incentive for others.
This discount offer extends until the end of March 2017, but only if you email me. After March 31st, it's gone. This is an effort to put M&A into the hands of more gamers and help build NerdBurger Games.
Thanks for being a friend of NerdBurger Games.
I’ve received the first round of playtest feedback. This round was focused on seeing if the overall game is fun and if the playing card system is viable.
Playtesters generally enjoyed the setting/tone/feel of the game. A few even commented that they were pleasantly surprised after initial doubts. So that’s cool.
Most of the playtesters pointed out some issues with the playing card mechanic, but no one thought it was unviable. It’s going to take some tweaking, but I think the system has a great deal of promise.
Here’s a rundown of the most notable tweaks that will be happening.
I need to expand the info provided for the setting/tone of the game. This will come in dribs and drabs throughout game development.
Almost every group pointed out that damage dealt versus the number of Hits characters had (and to a lesser extent, characters’ defense scores) seemed out of whack. I’ll be adjusting to make sure a successful attack packs more punch. (See what I did there?)
I’m going to simplify the “degree of success/failure” aspect of the system. It’s too complicated right now.
I’m going to give aces something extra cool. Right now, you can get a Boon with spades as long as you succeed at hitting the target score (pip value of your card). The pip value needs something to make it a little more worthwhile, at least when you get an ace.
I’m going to explore alternate uses for spending Moxie, the pool of points you use to gain extra effects and the like.
I need to tweak the wording in a few Exploits (exceptional abilities) for clarity and add more Exploits for continued playtesting.
And there’s a few other, little things.
I’ve also narrowed down the playtester list to four groups who will continue to playtest throughout the year. (Assuming they remain interested, of course.) I’m hoping to have three more rounds of playtesting, maybe four, before the end of 2017. Each round will focus in tighter and tighter on things as the game develops.
The next round will focus very specifically on the core game system and Exploits. I’d like to lock the basics of the system in place (barring little tweaks here and there) by mid-year.
The first round of Capers playtesting is underway. The game is in the hands of about a dozen playtest groups. However, many of you aren't involved in playtesting and I thought you might like to see a bit of the game. Below, you'll see a character sheet and four pages excerpted from the current version of the rules document (which stands at around 50 pages right now).
In Capers, every player uses a standard deck of playing cards (with jokers included) rather than dice to determine if he succeeds at a task. For a given Trait Check, you have a number of cards you can flip. The "pip value" (2, 3, 4,...Q, K, A) determines success/failure and the suit determined degree of success/failure. So, a single Trait Check is resolved all in one card flip. You can stop flipping cards at any time and take that result...OR you can gamble for better success. But you must take the result of the last card you flip.
There are ways to gain Boons (which are better successes) or suffer Botches built into the card flips. There are also ways to gain bonuses based on favorable circumstances.
Damage in combat is based on Color of the card or Suit of the card, depending on the attack type. Color is weaker (essentially a d2) and Suit is stronger (essentially a d4).
This is the character sheet for Johnny Lenk, known as "Hotfoot" among his peers. Johnny is a speedster. He's at starting level right here, so this will give you an idea of what a character sheet will look like when your character first starts making his fortune in the vice-riddled 1920s of prohibition.
Each character has six Traits, which describe his basic capabilities. In addition, a character has some Skills, which represent specialized areas he's particularly good at. Exploits are the name for "super powers" in the game. Each Exploit has a basic effects. Additionally, each has a series of Boosts you can add, which are ways your Exploits can become more powerful, more varied, or create alternate effects.
The following describes the basic mechanic of flipping cards when making Trait Checks or employing Exploits that require Exploit Checks (which are similar to Trait Checks in their execution).
Here's a look at two of the Traits in the game and what you can do with them. The Target Score (TS) in the lists here are the "pip value" of the card flip required to complete the task described.
Every Exploit has a rank value that you purchase to gain and then improve your "super power." Some are just 1-2. Others range 1-5. Each comes with a list of Boosts. When you choose an Exploit for your character, you gain a few Boosts. As you improve your character, you can select additional Boosts.
The base game assumes just the basic Exploits. Sort of the baseline of characters who have super powers. If you want to expand beyond this simple form, you can delve into additional things that make the game more complex. These additional rules bring science into the game in the form of "trembium," the newly-discovered element that is responsible for special abilities.
There will be rules for using trembium in different ways, imbuing trembium into items (to create "power armor" and other "special equipment") which will allow you to play the 1920s version of Iron Man or Batman.
I'm exploring ideas for animals with Exploits, lairs, prisons for exceptional people, alternate universes, and a variety of other "comic book tropes" translated into the Capers game world.
In the coming months, I'll reveal more of the game. Playtests will help me hone the game into the best RPG it can be and I'll talk a bit about that. There's a lot to do, but I feel things are well underway.
Grab your Tommy gun and focus your heat beams. It's gonna be fun.
In the previous blog post, I talked a bit about what's in store for NerdBurger Games in 2017. I thought I'd round out the year with a look back on the journey that brought Murders & Acquisitions to fruition. Please indulge me for a bit. This is gonna get looooooong.
I played my first Dungeons & Dragons game in the spring of 1991, during the second semester of my first year at college. My friend Brian insisted that I needed to try out the game and ran one D&D 2nd Edition game session set in Ravenloft with me, my friend Marcus, and Brian's roommate as players. I don't recall much about that game other than the fact that I played a half-elven bard who almost got eaten by a giant frog while pushing a raft through a swamp with a pole.
I was hooked. I devoured the game over that summer and started playing D&D with Brian, Marcus, and some other friends the next year. We played D&D, Shadowrun, and Star Wars. We dipped our toes in games like Paranoia and Toon. I started running games occasionally.
As college ended, I fell in with other gamers and we played Vampire: The Dark Ages, Changeling: The Dreaming, and more D&D. I ran some and played some. And I started writing a lot of stuff. I have hundreds of pages of written work that never saw play. I simply enjoyed the creative process and kept at it. I designed stuff for the games we played. I created a whole D&D world.
After a while, I played with even more gamer friends. We played D&D (of course), Rolemaster, Call of Cthulhu, and a few other things. I ran more games. I wrote more stuff that now sits on my hard drives.
My friend Jason Bulmahn became an organizer for the Highfolk region of Living Greyhawk for D&D 3E. He brought me on board to write a Highfolk adventure for the first year of Living Greyhwak titled "Winter Tears." In time, he moved to Seattle to work for Paizo and I wrote a feature article for Dragon magazine, paired with another feature article written by Chris Tulach, who would eventually work for Wizards of the Coast. I wrote a few RPGA adventures for Chris Tulach.
In 2009, the best thing that ever happened to my freelance career happened...I got laid off from my day job. During my four month "hiatus" from regular employment, I started writing more for D&D as Chris gave my name to Bart Carroll, Greg Bilsland, and Chris Perkins. I wrote a bunch of stuff for Dungeon Online and Dragon Online for the D&D 4E ruleset. I wrote a couple articles to supplement the Gamma World game WotC put out. I wrote a bit for Pathfinder. And I began writing a bit for Iron Kingdoms. I wrote everything from short, character-focused articles to longer adventures to a HUGE adventure called "Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut."
Having gotten my freelance design start with a friend giving me a chance, I started "paying it forward" when I could. I co-wrote a couple things with friends and helped one of them get their foot in the door to write a little more.
And I loved every minute, every page, every word. Not only was I continuing to write game material and enjoy the creative process, but I was getting PAID to do it!
In time, 4E D&D started to ramp down as the WotC team started working on 5th Edition. My freelance work started to dry up.
It was summer of 2013.
With my regular sources of freelance RPG design dwindling, I started looking at other writing paths. I started contacting other RPG makers, and then...
My friend Matthew, sitting across from me at work, pitched a game idea. He described it as a board game where players climb the corporate ladder via backstabbing and generally being a-holes. I found the idea amusing. My RPG designer brain kicked in and I started to imagine the idea as a tabletop roleplaying game. I described the idea to Matthew and asked his if it was okay for me to run with it. He said, "Go for it."
After bouncing ideas off of Jason while he was in Atlanta for DragonCon that year, I began work on a game tentatively titled Murders & Acquisitions, a twist on a line from the movie American Psycho. I initially described M&A as "a 30-page mini-game." HAH!
By November of 2013, I had enough of the base game written to run playtests with some friends. Over the course of many months, I honed the game, playtested with friends, honed the game some more, and watched as it expanded well beyond 30 pages.
Eventually, I started taking M&A to small, local conventions to have strangers try it out. I enlisted a few playtest groups around the country (and one overseas) to give the game a whirl. The game began to take shape.
As I designed, I came to the realization that it was going to get bigger than I had initially imagined. Additionally, I began looking at what might get gamers interested in playing the game. Some players would be fine with playing a game set in the contemporary, real world. But certainly other gamers prefer fantastic elements in their games. And so began the development of add-on rules for magic, monsters, future tech, cosmic horror, and the apocalypse.
More design. More playtesting. More cons. Things went a little more slowly than I would have liked since I was limited by how fast I could get playtest feedback. But I felt that was okay. The game was gaining traction. It was getting bigger. I was gonna let it take as long as it needed to come to full fruition.
Stepping back a bit...
I realized early on that I wanted to document the process I was going through designing Murders & Acquisitions. It was entirely possible that this would be the only game I ever took to completion. So I started blogging about my design work at New World Alchemy, a site set up by my friend Dave, a burgeoning board/card game designer. He welcomed having a fellow game designer discuss design work on his site.
It's worth noting that Dave eventually created and published a card game called Addictive Alchemy. Check it out at New World Alchemy. It's a spectacular game, unlike anything I've seen before, and is a ton of fun.
In May of 2015, I decided that M&A had enough traction to become a real game, one that I could publish for real. I put together my "one year plan," an in-depth outline of everything I needed to do to get the game ready to Kickstart.
I dipped into my pocket for money to pay others to do some things I could not. I brought a graphic designer on board to start working out what the game would look like in book form. I gathered a bunch of artists and had them do some initial work. I had some pretty things I could show to people at conventions.
I put out a call among a variety of friends to help out with layout, game design, character sheet creation, and graphic work. These friends jumped on board with no promise of significant payment. They simply trusted me, loved the game, and helped out.
I researched the Kickstarter process and built the Kickstarter page. I had a friend make a video for the Kickstarter.
I micro-managed the hell out of the entire process. Cuz that's the kind of person I am.
In August of 2015, I established NerdBurger Games and set up this website. I began blogging about my process here.
I started wearing all sorts of different hats beyond the "game designer" hat. Art director. Developer. Editor. Web designer. Publisher (to-be).
The game started to become a real thing that was going to happen. I hoped.
Again, stepping back a bit...
During all of this, I talked about M&A on the NerdBurger Podcast. I established this little podcast with my friend Mike well before I began working on my little game. As time went on, the game was discussed at length on the podcast, along with all the other stuff we talked about.
I give my heart-felt thanks to Mike for tolerating this. Though, Mike did the layout work on the game, building a skill set he didn't have before. And he got paid. So he doesn't get to complain anymore about the amount of time I spent talking M&A on the podcast. :-)
As 2016 began, I wrapped up design work on the game. I enlisted two editors to help make it read well.
In May of 2016, I put this bad boy up on Kickstarter to fund the remaining artwork needed and a few other things. The Kickstarter was a resounding success (in my mind, anyway). I won't delve into specifics here. If you want to see how everything went, you can visit the Kickstarter page. You can visit the Schedule page here for a rundown of all the places I promoted the game. Lots of podcasts you can listen to.
The Kickstarter raised $6000 (a nice, round number) and funded everything needed to make the game happen. Most importantly, all those people who agreed to work on spec got paid fair rates for their work. And I made enough extra to end the year in the black and reimburse myself for money I spent previously.
The months after the Kickstarter saw artwork created, layout done, and a bunch of other logistical stuff on my end.
Kickstarter rewards went out to backers on Tuesday, December 20th. We delivered the game before the end of the year, as promised in the Kickstarter. This is perhaps my mostest favoritest part of the whole process. I've heard the stories of Kicstarters taking much longer to fulfill (and sometimes fail to fulfill). I established NerdBurger Games and ran the Kickstarter as I did in an effort to establish NBG as a company that will hit its deadlines and provide reasonable turnarounds on rewards.
And the game is now available at DriveThruRPG.com. I'm looking into other avenues of putting the game into gamers' hands. We'll see how that pans out.
As I've stated many times, Murders & Acquisitions is not just my baby.. A wide variety of people helped make this little game a reality. If you have the game, look at the credits page. You can also go to the About Us page on this website to see a list of people who contributed. Thank you to everyone who offered their varied and various talents to make the game a reality.
And...one final time...I offer my most sincere thanks to every Kickstarter backer. This game is a real thing that you can hold in your hands and play with your friends and enemies...because of YOU. Thank you.
Whew. As I said, that got loooooooooong. It's time to look to the future. I'm really looking forward to what NerdBurger Games has to offer in the future.
And I hope you're looking forward, too.
I thought I'd drop a quick blog post as we hit the end of 2016 to let you know where NerdBurger Games stands as we move into 2017.
Our inaugural RPG is now available for purchase at DriveThruRPG.com. Hardcover, softcover, and PDF options are available. In addition, there are a variety of PDF support materials available, many of them free to download. There are also some adventures available for $1 apiece. An introductory adventure titled "Farewell, George Bertram" is free.
You can purchase Murders & Acquisitions HERE.
I designed a silly, two-page mini-game for fun. You can get it HERE for free. Can you make a sandwich? Give it a shot.
Currently I have a dozen playtest groups giving Capers a whirl. Playtest feedback is due by January 31, 2017. If you want to get in on playtesting the next game from NerdBurger Games, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll continue taking on new playtest groups until the end of the first week of January.
Future playtests will involve less groups. I'll be using the feedback provided by playtest groups from this first round to pare down to, at most, a half dozen playtest groups who will help shape Capers throughout 2017.
I'm on the lookout for outlets for promoting M&A, Capers, and all things NerdBurger Games. If you have any suggestions for podcasts that interview RPG designers or places I can promote things, drop me a line at email@example.com. Any and all pointers are appreciated.
If you have ANY feedback on what we're doing here at NBG, comment on this blog post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always looking to improve what I'm doing here and look forward to hearing from you.
Game on, everyone...
Murders & Acquisitions is DONE! Backer rewards are on their way to all the backers. I am so relieved.
You can read all about it HERE.
The game will be available for purchase at DriveThruRPG.com very soon.
I'm gonna talk about FEELINGS for a bit here. Please forgive me.
In the past several months, most of my blog posts have been links to the Murders & Acquisitions Kickstarter Updates peppered with a few tidbits about my work on Capers, the next RPG from NerdBurger Games. That's not surprising, I suppose, given where M&A and Capers stand.
As M&A nears completion and Capers goes into its first round of playtesting, I find myself in a head-space I haven't been mired in for a while. I'm worried. The chiding inner voice of self-doubt has lurched to the surface again. "Hi, Craig," that little bitch says!
This irritating inner vocalization popped up quite a bit as I was preparing for the M&A Kickstarter. Am I doing this right? Will people be interested in the little RPG that I'd been working on for nearly three years? Will they plunk down their dollars for it? During the run of the Kickstarter back in May and early June, it continued. Will the game fund? Will we hit all the stretch goals so I can bring EVERYTHING I've created for M&A into the book?
Once the Kickstarter wrapped with the game funded and all stretch goals hit, this little voice of self-doubt went into hibernation. I focused on getting artwork squared away, guiding the layout of the book, and a metric crap-ton of other stuff I had to deal with. It was a blessed relief to simply be bringing my pet project to fruition. And I fiddled with Capers in isolation and got ready for sending out playtest documents.
But that little bitch is back. M&A is almost in the hands of the backers (and up on DriveThruRPG.com for others to purchase soon) and Capers playtest materials have been sent out. I'm once again worried. Will people like M&A? Will they play it? Will they tell their friends and enemies that they can go purchase it? Will the Capers playtesters enjoy this first round of playtesting? Does the new game hold up to my expectations?
As Christmas approaches, I'm doing my best to stay positive. But the inner voice of self-doubt is there...always watching...always waiting. Always ready to rear its ugly head and laugh at me.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll do everything I can to beat that little bitch back down. With any luck, responses from M&A backers getting their rewards and feedback from Capers playtesters will help me stay focused and positive.
The life of a part-time freelance RPG designer is fun. The time spent creating makes me happy. It's something I've been doing for two and a half decades, mostly for no payment or accolades.
I'm going to hold to the following truths. Murders & Acquisitions is about to become a reality. The little game I started designing in August of 2013 is going to be in the hands of many dozens of gamers very soon.
And that's pretty fucking cool.
Take that, you little bitch.