Thursday, 20 April 2017

Character Generation. Linear Flow. Quick Start Stats

BREAK!! development seems to be mostly one step forward two steps back!
Looking at a rejig of the first part of the book, character generation (1/3)

Despite efforts to cram character creation into a few pages, the system is wonderfully quirky and must be handled differently.
  • Will be a more traditional, linear flow
  • But will add Quick Start Stats to get you moving rapidly through the process (enabling you to skip over large chunks of text)

'Link' text points you to the next chunk of text relevant to your character creation path.

Will need to tie in stats to character sheet more tightly (whole sheet will needs a revamp... that's for another post)

Monday, 10 April 2017

Character sheet

Somewhere along the way I forgot about the importance of the character sheet. It's a key player/game interface (despite paradoxically being relatively easily to replace with a pencil and paper).

And, following on from my last post on chargen, along with some reinforcing feedback from playtesters I'm prolly gonna add an overview page that explains which sections in the book are required to fill it out. Concept below.

Have been kindly reminded that this need to be practical, not infoporn (see below)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Character Creation, information flow.

Having parsed most of the character creation text, I am finding myself unsatisfied with my initial design for the creation process (see fig1 1. Hyperlink).

My original goals
  1. Create a short condensed character creation flow with minimal page flipping. Quick, obvious.
  2. Allow players to pick/roll results and get a feel (excited for) their character without getting bogged down in mechanics.
  3. Leave richer information/explanations to be cross-referenced later by the player if they desired a deeper understanding.
However! This hyperlink concept is not working as well as I'd hoped with BREAK!! because:
  1. Numerous sub-processes are required for different callings (classes) which complicate the flow. (fig1 4. Sub-processes)
  2. Complex information (stats, gear, blah) is accumulated and modified during the flow and can't be hand waived away to look up later.
While my hyperlink flow might work well for an interactive document, it felt unnecessarily complex for a print book. I tried to solve this buy bringing data/stats into the chargen section (fig1 3. Hybrid) to solve Problem 2 but this bloats the design (conflicting with my original goals) and doesn't help with Problem 1.

A solution?
Maybe the old way is the best. A long and linear approach (fig1 2. Linear). This is good because:
  1. Exceptions are dealt with/explained at time of creation.
  2. You only flip forward (clear sense of progress). 
But bad because:
  1. You get bogged down in detail.
  2. The key chargen tables are spread out over many pages, annoy for those familiar with the mechanics (I know, stick tables together in an appendix)
Flow analysis
Anyway, I visualised how information is extracted from the various structural approaches to see if it would help me design a solution. Not sure if it did, but it's a nice infographic.
  • Blue lines show references to other parts of the doc to collect information.
  • Dotted blue lines, return to chargen flow.

fig 1 - Character Generation Flow Analysis

 Still thinking...

Adventure site concept

Taking a (another) mini-break from the core rules...

I started noodling on a concept for an adventure site from what will (probably) be BREAK!!'s first piece of support material... Trouble in Sprocket

The Salvage Sanctum
  • Secret base of the pesky Drones (they bother the villagers when out working in the surrounding wasteland/junkfields)
  • I envisaged the Drones as buzzing about their scavenging duties like insects... which demanded an ant/termite hill inspired lair!
  • The Sanctum blends into the ruinous scenery, meaning the players need to discover its exact whereabouts (clues like the location and frequency of drone attacks on sprocket workers, smelt plumes, etc will help)
  • A hill is a good defensible structure should the party choose full frontal assault.

  • Drones usually only possess a limited intelligence, but these guys have 'developed' sentience. Their functional, robotic construction make them ill-equipped to interact with organics and due to this, and their simple machine-like appearance, are mistaken for garden-variety drones.
  • A quick random drone generator provides fun for the GMs! Determine locomotion type (wheels, biped, spider legs, hover), sensors (sound, vibration, movement), attack/defense options (burrow, retreat into shell, roll, stretch arm, gas), etc...

  • Main entrance access requires an understanding of bitstream (bot language) or the cardkey (item)
  • Drone service hatches create another way in.

The Sorting Room 
  • All entrances lead to this hub room. 
  • Drone deposit. Others sort parts.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Dummy book, and two (little) ideas it spawned

I find it hard sometimes to get feel for a physical product purely from the screen and often print out pages to check colors, typography, etc. I have a massive toner bill.

Occasionally I'll cut down and insert the printouts into a similar sized book and dream about the end result.

BREAK!! will be a fat book, 300+ pages (roughly the same size as the underlying book used here). Whist holding the chunky item in my hand I thought of two things:
  1. I should add a global content strip in the top margin so people know what order the main sections are in, this will remind them whether they need to flip forward or back. Also could be useful for links in the pdf!
  2. I should add a d20 into the margin! Flip to roll. Die numbers would be non-sequential so it would be harder to cheat it.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Logo Test

Messing about with new logo design (draft), not sure about it yet. Is it distinctive? Is it legible? Will it look good on a t-shirt?

Here's some old cover work (which I still like too)

Friday, 24 March 2017

Tutorial Dungeons and Play Examples

I've been quiet for a while so I thought I'd give you guys a little update on what I've been working on, mainly the Play Examples and Tutorial Dungeons that will show up in various sections of the rule book.

The Play Examples will feature these lovable scamps and their gaming group - most chapters with a procedure or enough rules feature one. I find these are always super useful but mostly dry or kind of wooden, so I tried to keep them short and a maybe a little cute. We'll see how it works out.

The Tutorial Dungeons were Grey's suggestion - I'm writing two though I'm not sure if they will both make it in. The first is a solo adventure meant to get whoever is reading a book to roll up a character and run them through a brief scenario where they sneak into an abandoned "Cloud Shrine" to find out why a nearby settlement has been seeing alarmingly clear skies for a while (and not getting any rain, to boot).

The second is an Qualifying Obstacle Course for the Knights of the Lantern, a poverty stricken but benevolent order of do-gooders who operate in the Shadowed Lands of the Wistful Dark. This one is meant to teach a party how to move through an adventure site, work together and deal with strange and dangerous circumstances. It can also be used to kick off a campaign if desired!

After this it's back to working on some stuff for our first planned supplement/adventure - Grey and decided after finishing this big old book we are going to stick with doing smaller releases to compliment it, rather than jump headlong into another big thing.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Formatting Text - For RPG Rules

Why is BREAK!! Taking so long?
  • It's evening and weekends
  • We don't know what we are doing

There are 4 steps to our Formatting Process:
  1. Raw Text: Rey writes the raw rules in Google Docs (1st draft) There is a kinda template that informs the paragraph structure.
  2. Basic formatting: There are three basic chunks to a Rule/Ability entry... a header, flavor/description text, rules/mechanics. Idea being that you can jump straight to the mechanical bit without having to pick it out of the description.
  3. Edit/restructure: (This is the bit I'm doing now!) Lots of time spent here looking at repeating design patterns for consistent presentation, breaking text blocks into bullet points (one rule/new bit of information per bullet). Differentiating bullet points to signify the content (success, failure, notes). Additional subtitles are added for quick scanning.
  4. Final editing/proof reading/polishing: This definitely needs to happen!

Whether a Failed Check (as in the example above) should have a Fail bullet is one of the many things under review. Should prolly only have these if the Failure has a mechanical consequence.

With Magic abilities also looking at maybe having specific icons for recharge and casting times.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Species, Physiological Tweaking

I want the species in BREAK!! to look like they could be the product of their environment, while preserving key fantasy tropes (the origins of Outer World species do not strictly follow Darwinist principles after all).  Also had fun thinking about their various life stages.


Bruun. Live in the Blazing Garden. They are a sort of hybrid elephant/gorilla (with some pig). Small, deep set eyes don't need to let much light in. Large brow creates a shade for the eyes. Large ears help keep them cool.

Thinking maybe they are vegetarian.


More species noodles... Chibs are created by magic. They were designed to be the children of lonely wizards. But they figured out the ritual and started self replicating. So I'm thinking they are like animated jelly/clay with maybe soft bones. Idealised cuteness.

The new creations are naive and impressionable, they just want to be cuddled. Very quickly they realise they are the unloved. Most older chibs are drunk/bitter souls.

I imagine their are idealistic pockets of chibness, hidden villages etc. But the more Chibs interact with other species and travel the earth, the more they struggle with their sense of purpose/identity. It's very sad.

They are, from birth to death, the same height.


Dwarves are carved not born. Like the a kinda Terracotta Army. Life eventually seeps in to the stone, and while eventually fleshy they have an angular/chiselled appearance. They are cold to the touch.

In old age, they are cracked and moss covered.

In death they revert to stone. There is a hall of heroes.


Have tweaked my goblin design a bit (to differentiate the head more from the orkish Bruun). Living in the dark their sensory organs are developed make the most of low light (big eyes) with powerful sense of smell, and perhaps echo location for pure dark? Nose designed to skin the floor when climbing (which their claws are good for)

 Goblins have a cool ability called Spore (where they can produce hirelings... it's who they procreate) Figured they could pop off gremlins-style and then unfurl. Be a tadpole like state for a few hours before becoming fully grown.

In old age, where due to lifestyle many don't have to worry about, ears and snout droop. There spore making days are over, poor things.


Prometheans are towering and muscular. They are immortal and have regenerative powers. Limbs grow back, but the repaired tissue is strangely serpent-like.

Maybe they have eggs? They are sort of left to hatch and survive on their own. Life begins with a Spartan like coming of age trial.

The eggs are a delicacy among the older Promethean aristocracy.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Layout system overhaul

I've been reviewing the design system now I have largely got all the words into Indesign. The real content, as expected, is creating new demands of the layout system and exposing areas for improvement.

Old design

Design tweaks 

I have...
  • ...added horizontal dividers that span two columns in the body text (not just the section headings). This helps divide content better into chunks and adds a needed extra level in the visual hierarchy.
  • ...added subtitles have been added to paragraph bullets (in some places), again to help with the scannability of the book at the table.
  • ...changed the image style. While I liked the big image (and is more arresting here when presented in isolation)  I went for a more game guide style presentation of the characters, this will work better in the book as a whole (and be slightly quicker to produce!). The main image is the Calling Architype, the smaller ones depict the customisation and variations possible within the rules

PS. The copy WILL have typos!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Yesterday I...played BREAK!!

In a rare opportunity granted to me by my friend and occasional Podcast partner, Kiel I actually got to sit down and try the game I wrote as a player, rather than a Game Master. It was a great experience, and Kiel took to the rules and setting of BREAK!! well (he's already house-ruling around and mucking with the world, but hey, the game is supposed to be a stretchy like that).

Map by Kiel Chenier (Buy Blood in the Chocolate everyone!)

We explored Rend, a Shard City in the Wistful Dark. Kiel's very own creation! Look at the fancy map he made!

The other players weren't slouches either.

I was joined by Sam Mameli's  Fife Moon, an intrepid Chib Farmer.
Sam, being a fantastic artist himself, made his own sheet
He Shovels. He shovels very well.

Arella (who Kiel and I mentioned in our podcast a few episodes ago) also joined us. Following Sam's lead, she created a custom sheet for her Tenebrate Factotum, Komali.
In a perpetual state of "so done with this"

I showed these to Grey and he was wowed! And then he demanded I do the same.
I obliged, and further demonstrated why Grey is doing the art for this book and I am not.

"Your Hearts need work" Grey says.
My character was actually BREAK!!'s iconic Battle Princess, Mariah. She's looking considerably less detailed here but at least she's in a good mood, I suppose.

The session was quick and fun. Lots of banter between the characters, an encounter with the "Noodle Boys", who may or may not have resembled characters from the 15th iteration of a very popular J-RPG Game, and a battle with a strange, wolfish humanoid. I look forward to continuing next week!

Also we are on Facebook now!

Kiel also sent me a few sketches of the NPC's from the session: Biggle and his missing Biomechanoid buddy, X79.

Friday, 13 January 2017

BREAK!!-ing in adventures from other games

Grey is hard at work in layout land and I'm finishing up the rules to play shape-changing tree wizards and out of work bureaucracy gods - so why not have a mostly fluffy anecdote for my first post of 2017?

I don't buy a lot of modules to be honest. When I'm not writing up rules and goofy setting stuff I like to doodle dungeons and come up with huge lists of adventure hooks. This is due to my genuine love of game session preparation and the fact that I'm a bit of a control freak.

That said, I do occasionally buy adventures when someone I like writes them and I want to support their cool thing (and I remember to do so). This was the case with Kiel Chenier's Blood in the Chocolate. This swanky scenario was designed for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which is a very slick, horror themed re-do of old school D&D.

Naturally, I inserted the adventure into my much lighter, anime style game. You know, the one this blog is about.

It was less hard than you'd imagine - mechanically, BREAK!! squares up enough with most fantasy games that it's a matter of swapping out this value for it's closest equivalent and calling it a day. 

(The Game Master's guide I finished a while ago actually has a chapter on doing this!) 

I did take it a step further and altered some of the bits to make it fit BREAK!!'s standard setting and my own style. Kiel is actually way more hardcore than me, so I softened quite a few aspects. The lead villain ended up getting boosted a bit, and she fights like Rufus from Street Fighter if he used a rapier. She also became the elder sister (an perpetual rival) of the player's current patron but retained her raw charisma and odd foibles.

A strange little mutated tribe that works in the factory became the Cocoa Cretins (with an ability called Cacao Kapow, which inflicted a random curse from the book itself) who kept people that had been immobilized by afflictions as decorations for their living quarters. The human guards were replaced with Skelemen and a Skelemaster, because I really like those entries and wanted to test them out. I figure it makes sense for the villain too - who better to guard edible products than things that never eat?

It went pretty well - my wife abandoned the rest of the players when she figured out the adventure was a Willy Wonka riff, but her antics eventually saved the party from what would have been a likely fatal encounter. They escaped with their lives and a few stolen goods, and will likely have to deal with the sinister choclatier at a later date.

Friday, 23 December 2016

I know you're all dying to hear my voice:

This is only tangentially related I suppose, but I recently was in a podcast. I do think it's still pretty relevant to anyone interested in BREAK!! because I dump a lot of my RPG-thoughts into it.

I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Town of Sprocket (Adventure Snippet)

With the rules basically written and Grey hard at work on putting together a sort of alpha PDF, I'm working on the small sample Adventure to include with the main book. This is a rough write-up for the main town.

(Small Note. Anything followed by a (x.x.x) referencing a another section of the adventure.)


Founded 4 generations ago by a group of junkers sick of wandering between Bevel and Cog, Sprocket has grown into a small but bustling community. The town’s culture and architecture is a mixture of rural sensibility and technological eccentricity: quaint little homes and buildings decked out with whatever odd gadgets or technosalvage their owner couldn’t sell or bear to part with.

Facilities and Shops
  • Most business in Sprocket is done at Rigg’s Place (x.x.x) or conducted personally by Pa Beardsly. At the Game Master’s discretion, travelling merchants might have a stall or two set up, selling various wares.
  • Food is distributed evenly among Sprocket’s citizens, but travelers (usually) have to pay.
  • A strangely large amount of people in Sprocket have a Gadgeteering Workshop (or something close to it) in their home, and most will gladly rent it out to travelers for the standard fee.

The People of Sprocket
  • Most of the villagers are junkers or work at the crash site. This means that the people the party will meet in town are either taking a break, doing odd jobs around town, or moving between places.
  • They are friendly to a fault but they don’t appreciate their time being wasted.
  • If questioned by the players on the current goings on, they will answer with information from the Current Buzz chart.
  • GM Tip!: If the players are totally stumped and you want to help out, having one of the people of Sprocket know some key bit of info is a pretty good way to do it. Feel free to work that int here if you need to.

Current Buzz (Game Master may Roll or Choose)
  • (1-5) “That Pa sure is a real dealmaker! I heard that the Shogun of the Holy Isles and some far off Knight Commander are in a bidding war over that Gigaframe we’re fixing up.”
  • (6-10) “I feel real bad for that mechanoid working in Rigg’s place. She seems to want to tell us something real important but one can understand a word she’s saying.”
  • (11-15) “I’m telling ya, that drone would have taken my head off if I hadn’t backed off! Ain’t no amount of salvage that’s worth your life.”
  • (16-20) “Welcome to Sprocket!” (followed by an awkward pause)

Security and Local Authority
  • Sprocket’s Town Guard (x.x.x) has 9 members: 8 Guards who pair up for 4 alternating 6 hour shifts per Cycle and one Guard Captain who is basically on duty whenever she isn’t sleeping.
  • Any merchant’s caravans passing through will likely have their own guards or hired mercenaries. This is common practice in the Outer World, as few communities are able to spare any of their own protection.
  • Both Riggs (x.x.x) and Pa Beardsly (x.x.x) could be considered the leaders of Sprocket. Riggs mainly deals with local business and infrastructure, but Pa handles the foreign dealings and trade that make up much of the town’s earnings. The two only barely respect one another.