Cover Art presented

Spark RPG Cover

Spark RPG Cover

Sorry for the slow update cycle of late; over the holidays I have been out and about which has slowed my development somewhat. That said I will have another fruitful playtest next Tuesday which should test some new design innovations. If things work out as well as I hope, I will finally have a solid base mechanical system to encourage the kinds of gameplay I am seeking.  I shall speak more if the playtest does go well.

The real reason for this post is to link to the cover art for Spark! Gabriel has done an excellent job in my opinion and I hope you agree.

I will hold off on doing the lettering and, well, the rest of the graphic design until I am dramatically further along in the design work.

Yeah, it’s premature to commission art but it also gave me a chance to solidify a standard artist contract template. Not to mention that Gabriel is remarkably good value for money. Check him out people!

New arrivals in the realm of Spark

Two recent events in the world of the Spark RPG. Firstly, I have commissioned an excellent piece of art from Gabriel Verdon which I will be using for the Cover of the book. Lovely little piece and I thank him for his efforts. I will hold off from posting the image thus far, chiefly because I have yet to add the text. Keep tuned for more!

I am now fairly certain that I will be excising the old Glory mechanics. It used to be a very wishy-washy catch-all which would cover any weird drawback or special capability, but it grated on my design sensibilities. Instead, I am adapting the existing trait names and have fashioned a standard mechanic. It’s a variation of explicit aspect compels mechanics which were explained by Rob Donoghue found right here. Players declare situations where they are particularly capable or feeble. They will get very significant bonuses when they try those actions. Things are finally coming together, I believe. Certainly eager to see if it works out in playtesting.

So have any of you been inspired by Rob Donaghue’s insights?

Current Revisions

I am pleased to report that my design work has been progressing apace. I thought you fine folks might want an update.

1) I am officially out of the running for Game Chef 2010, but I have learned a great deal from the thoughtful reviews and the feedback I have acquired. My plan is to revise the game rather heavily and transition A Sojourn in Alexandria into a more versatile GM-less game with more structured resolution mechanics. This is going on the backburner. but eventually a more refined product will be released into the wild.

2) I am now undertaking some more serious alpha playtesting of the Spark RPG with my local crew. I will run a 5-session long game in a post apocalyptic Ottawa. At present we have a techno-wizard, a telekinetic thief and a military-ops samurai. I am experimenting with some novel mechanics for encouraging previews of future sessions with Fate (XP) and I have great hopes that this will add something solid to the gameplay.

Now, there are some fairly significant elements of the existing system that I am not currently terribly comfortable with. I am trying to determine how I might modify the system to streamline and prevent some of the need for delicate counterbalancing. My current design has “Glories” which are for all intents and purposes, mechanically complex merits and flaws. I think that I might be able to streamline and cut out some of the fiddly bits. I will keep you posted!

Do any of you gentle-beings in the aether have any questions for me? Now’s the time to ask!

The Lay of the Land

I have had a bit of progress with Spark of late and I thought I would explain where I am at in a bit more detail.   My master plan is to produce a single printed book which will be 8 chapters in length.  The first four chapters would contain everything you need to play or run a game, from character creation to funky powers to the intricacies of narrative arcs.   These four chapters would be freely available in PDF form on my site as soon as they are completed.

Chapter 1: Character Creation

Chapter 2: Mechanics

Chapter 3: Powers

Chapter 4: Fate

The last four chapters would contain some of the useful tools for running a game.  This would only be found in the dead-tree versions, or in the PDF version which I will have up for sale.  This is the full toolbox to help a GM tinker under the hood, build their own settings and would present three new settings to play in.

Chapter 5: Setting Design

Chapter 6: Hacks

Chapter 7: Stock

Chapter 8: Three Unique Settings

Since I have stated this publicly, I suspect that some of the above information will be forced to change.  Still, at this point, that is how the book is organized.

I have written first drafts of the first four chapters already.  I have done substantial revisions to Chapters 1 and 2 thus far, based on my early playtest feedback.  Chapter 3 revision is proceeding apace and I have a decent plan of attack for Chapter 4 when I reach that point.  I hope to have this (chapters 1-4) out to external playtesters in a few months and with luck I will be able to complete all of my editing by end of 2010.   I have a lovely line editor who will be helping me polish and clean up the countless residual errors when I am ready.  If all things go as planned, I should have chapters 1-4 complete in time for GenCon and on sale in a printed AshCan format.

So that is the current status of the Spark RPG.  I haven’t leaked that much content thus far, chiefly because at this early stage in development things are likely to change.  I just hacked off a significant sub-system the other day for example.    Still, I will try to give a few more trinkets as the editing progresses.

Anyone have any thoughts, comments, questions or concerns on my so-called master plan?

First echoes of the Spark Soundtrack

As previously mentioned, the excellent composer James Durham has been working on a score for my podcast. I just wanted to report that the draft I just heard is astounding. It is my hope that within the next month or so, I will be able to at minimum provide a clip of the piece for you to feast upon.

In other news, I am nearing the end of my first run of playtesting of the game system. A great many things emerged from the process; a mechanic which makes conflict most dynamic, how to handle shipboard combat and a host of other tweaks. I have finished this revision pass for chapter one (character creation) and the first half of chapter two (mechanics). Once this particular editing is done, I will be sending it off to a few external playtesters to see how it runs in the wild. I will keep you posted.