Saturday, 8 July 2017

BREAK!!-ing Random Encounters

I saw a bit of talk about Random Encounters in Tabletop RPGs flying around social media today and it inspired me to talk a bit about how they work in BREAK!!.

It's assumed that most maps in BREAK!! come with a Random Encounter chart. These are generally custom built and used to represent various things that would be moving about the same location as the players are. The intent is to make the world seem dynamic and like it's its own place, rather than a construct made just to serve the player character's adventures. The encounters include other wanderers from the outside, as well as inhabitants whose opinions on intruders range from apathy to murderous hostility. Each also has several entries that simply say "No Encounter" - this means the primary Roll becomes a one that determines both if there is an encounter and what that encounter is, if any.

They do function a bit differently depending on the sort of map being used.

Larger scale maps (such as those detailing a region or province) have a Random Encounter Table you consult each time you cross a significant distance during a journey ( this determined by a quick use of the Overland Travel Rules). The sort of encounters should vary quite a bit depending on where you are travelling, but a lot of them are potential allies, built in adventure hooks or the results of other dangers going on in an area that warrant investigation. An important thing is that it's encouraged that the GM cross off an encounter when used and write a new one to replace it to keep things fresh.

Smaller scale maps (dungeons and other adventure sites, mainly) have a chart that represent the mobile inhabitants of the area or other things that might have wandered in. This is rolled on every time characters make a lot of ruckus or spend a significant amount of time in a particular area. Every time an encounter is "dealt with"" (slain, pacified, etc) it's crossed off the encounter chart. Only so many things can live in a particular place at one time, right?

Also important is that there are less stationary encounters in BREAK!! (I.E "6 goblins in room c") so these often make up the bulk of the things player's can run into.

There is more too things obviously, but these are the bits that come to mind. I'm very excited to talk more about these sorts of things once the book is published.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Magitech Facility, demo adventure site

The Gardens as they would have been. Environmentally controlled dome for exotic plants.

Rey came up with an evocative 'dungeon' concept (and map) for the demo adventure site in Break!!, an Akenian Magitech Research Facility (Botanical). Akenia is a fallen human empire that infused magic into machines and investigated mana manipulation as science.

Lab corridor now. Semi functioning irrigation and lighting systems (and magic!) keep flora alive

Botanical Researchers (knowledge treasure = botanical map of The Murk)
Secret entrance, exposed by faultering illusion under central dome.

Rey's original map

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Cover thoughts (continued!)

The Battle Princesses+ Murder Princess are iconic Callings in Break!! and represent the power of love and hate respectively.

Also toying with putting the logo in a block so it can be dumped on any background!

Background photobashed! Maybe should have some ruins.

Older explorations Cover 1 + Cover 2

Monday, 8 May 2017

Beacon, demo town.

Beacon is a small settlement featured in the core book. It's located in the Shadow Lands (an area of permanent night) on the site of an old Akenian keep. What do these dilapidated structures look like? and what did they use to look like before the cataclysm? Having fun (wasting time!) thinking about the lost civilizations of Outer World. Their language, ruins, magic items persist in the game world.

Then (3rd Aeon) - The Akenian structure as it was in its glittering hey day.

Now  (4th Aeon) - Village of Beacon, a small haven in the unforgiving dark.

Original map by Rey

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Setting as a gentle plea

With the rules more or less written and ready (I'm at the point with them that I probably won't be changing much unless something goes really crazy during broader playtesting) and Grey continuing his perilous journey through layout land, I've mostly been working on sample maps and the like for the BREAK!!'s standard setting, The Outer World.

I'm doing my best to put a lot of small world-building bits in these samples without making them so overloaded as to become confusing or unusable. In doing so, I've ended up reminding myself of something that is probably pretty obvious to everyone: I am a huge softy, and ultimately I'm hoping for players to be curious, kind, and heroic.

Oddly enough, this is part of the reason the setting has a lot of spots that are figuratively (and in some spots, literally) dark. The Outer World is fraught with perils odd and frightening. The status quo is cruel and often unstable. But these things are not meant to be taken as inescapable truths, they are meant as challenges - things that can be tackled alongside and with the same eagerness as a foreboding dungeon or powerful opponent.

It's certainly not a new idea. Pendragon comes to mind and numerous super hero games have attempted the same sort of thing. I was personally inspired by the excellent Porphyry, World of The Burn. But I truly feel that BREAK!! puts its own unique spin on it, one I'm very eager to share with people.

(I suppose you can still spend your campaign just ransacking old ruins and getting cool stuff, nothing's stopping you, really.)

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.