Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Milwaukee Record - Time Lord's Ball

My byline strikes again! My friends at 42 Lounge are hosting a huge year-end party that's Doctor Who themed.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Actual Play - Save Game

Here's a great review/actual play from Michael Duxbury with some awesome characters!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Milwaukee Record - 8Bit Barcade

Back on the geek beat for Milwaukee Record. Thanks to +Caleb Andersen for being my safety buddy and helping me check out this arcade bar in Kenosha.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Milwaukee Record - Neil deGrasse Tyson

Last night I got to see the amazing Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about SCIENCE! for three hours. If this man isn't an Action Scientist, I don't know what the term means.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Classic Con Report - GameHole Con

High light: Getting invited to the show and meeting some peers, fans and friends who all were having a good time.

Low light: The parking lot was jam packed and the hotel didn't seem to have good options beyond "Uh, good luck."

Best experience: Lunch with some of my favorite folks in Madison. They are both nerds with kids, so here's hoping they raise the next generation right.

Worst experience: Walking into the wargames room and getting the stinkeye from the table closest to the door with a really cool mini terrain version of Settlers of Catan. If you didn't want people admiring your minis why did you pick that table?

Best bargain (had to buy it, no freebies): I didn't really buy anything due to my current budgetary lock down

Best FreebieI'm Bored! handed out those fancy pass pouches. It even matches my con bag.

Most welcome surprise: The Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition games were very busy. It seems like this edition is quite popular even before all of the main books are out...

Most unwelcome surprise: ...which meant I didn't get a chance to play in a game. I'll be sure to pre-reg next year.

Best game: Talking with Cynthia Miller about Cartoon Action Hour got me excited to run it again. And F.L.A.G. Force is coming early next year!

Most interesting game concept: 
Sheriff of Nottingham is a customs inspections game where you have to smuggle items past the other players. Everyone gets a chance to be the smuggler and everyone gets a chance to be "The Man".

Sleeper game: ICONS is looking to have an interesting future from some of the projects Dan Hauser talked about. Just in time for the Batman TV series DVDs to come out, too...

Coolest booth: All the FLGS booths were crammed together, so they had really competitive pricing.

Strangest moment: People recognizing me by my name tag. Always strange. Always awesome.


Sheriff of Nottingham
Mage Wars


Nothing. Well, I did stop at Pine Cone on the way home.


5th Edition Monster Manual
Pathfinder Skull and Shackles Adventure Deck #2
Pathfinder Skull and Shackles Character Add-On Deck

Things to pick up after the con:

5th Edition dungeon Masters Guide
Pathfinder Skull and Shackles Adventure Deck #3

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Milwaukee Record - UberDork Cafe

My latest work for the Milwaukee Record is an interview with the owner of UberDork Cafe, a lovely little startup out in Menomonee Falls, where they can use a little more geekiness.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Classic Con Report - Fantasticon

High light: Seeing a lot of nerdy families at the show. Loved seeing mom as Black Widow, dad as Captain America, and the kid in a Bat-Stroller.

Low light: The RPG area was a ghost town. I had some people show up for Firefly, but there were some awesome D&D and Pathfinder GMs who were stuck waiting around with their hands in their pockets.

Best experience: Playing board games Sunday morning with some Board Game Barrister staff and an adorable little girl in a TARDIS costume.

Worst experience: 
The con was spread out over two hotels that shared a common parking lot. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous this past weekend, but it would have sucked if it was a typical Wisconsin. 

Best bargain (had to buy it, no freebies): The Milwaukee/Star Wars mashup magnet I got is pretty cool.

Best FreebieThe organizers gave me a free badge, which is always a hard freebie to beat.

Most welcome surprise: I found a dice game that Lindsay likes. Chupacabra plays fast and fun, with a cryptid theme that she loves. 

Most unwelcome surprise: My quest to get my Firefly RPG book signed by all the cast members was foiled again as Adam Baldwin backed out of the show a few months ago.

Best game: I enjoyed my run through Rise of the Runelords. It's not quite an RPG, but streamlines a lot of things about Pathfinder while still keeping the stuff players love.

Most interesting game concept: Sushi Go is a set matching game that has some of the most adorable chibi artwork ever.

Sleeper game: Roll for It is a dice worker placement game that looks like it would be a big hit for civilians.

Coolest booth: The Indiana Jones Fan Club booth had some great artifact replicas.

Strangest moment: Walking past a guy with a really realistic looking python around his neck and then realizing it was, in fact, a real snake.

Geek Out

Sushi Go
Roll For It
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Rise of the Runelords

Bay View Star Wars magnet


Free pass
Business cards

Things to pick up after the con:

Roll For it
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Save Game - Press Start

The day is here. Create retro video game heroes to battle a vicious computer virus in Save Game, powered by Fate Core.

Save Game is available here. Like all the Worlds of Adventure funded through the Evil Hat Patreon, it's Pay What You Want. You can download it for free if you like and then dip back to pay for it later. Or sign up for the Patreon and fund other totally awesome worlds coming up and get a chance to look at them early.

Thanks to Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue for giving me another chance to wear the Evil Hat. Their company is one of the best in the biz. Joshua Yearsley and Lenny Balsera whipped the manuscript into shape.

Thanks to the patrons of Patreon for investing in this experiment. I want you all to tell me about your characters.

Thanks to Aaron Lyle, Brad Davies and Ryan Smith as my official playtesters and to the gamers at Nexus Game Fair who played in my public playtest.

Thanks to Brian Patterson, who did all the amazing art for the book. His webcomic is awesome.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cosmos in Milwaukee

I've finally gotten around to checking out the new Cosmos and it's made me very excited that Neil DeGrasse Tyson will be visiting the city in December to give a pair of lectures at the Riverside Theater. I'm not sure I've I'm covering these for Milwaukee Record, but I hope so.

December 10th features "This just in: Latest Discoveries In The Universe"

December 11th is "Science as a Way of Knowing."

Tyson has a good way of explaining ideas to non-science folks like me. And Cosmos is a great source of ideas for any games involving science, like Atomic Robo or Numenera.

Milwaukee Record: Fantasticon

Special thanks to Michael Bollow for talking to me about Fantasticon this weekend!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Firefly RPG - Play It With Me

Folks in Southeastern Wisconsin have a couple of opportunities to play Firefly RPG with one of the members of the Firefly RPG staff!
MKE RPG (Milwaukee RPG Group) is hosting a Space Cowboy-themed game day on Saturday, October 11th from 1-5 PM. I'll be hosting a Firefly RPG game and be on hand to answer any questions about the RPG. The event takes place at 42 Lounge, Milwaukee's elite geek bar.
Fantasticon Milwaukee will have demos during the show.

I'll be running:
Saturday at 2 PM
Sunday at 10 AM

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kickstarter - CHILL

Today marks the launch of the CHILL 3rd Edition Kickstarter. Matt McFarland asked me to join the project along with several other very talented writers. CHILL is a modern horror RPG where you play a member of SAVE, a secretive organization dedicated to fighting monsters all over the world. CHILL is beloved by gamers throughout the world and I'm excited to be contributing to its legacy.

Matt McFarland, the evil mastermind behind the CHILL Kickstarter, opened up a new set of reward levels to celebrate the Kickstarter hitting the 50% mark. Back at the Site Surveyor level and we'll work together to select a site for one of the SAVE offices mentioned in the corebook. Want your hometown to play a pivotal role in the battle against the darkness? Think your ex's new city should be riddled with supernatural evil? Back as a Site Surveyor and make it happen.

If you want more information, the Kickstarter is here. Always remember: SAVE Is On Your Side.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fate Hack - Mass Effect

Several Fate hacks grace these pages, but I decided today to post a link to one elsewhere on the web. Don Mappin's Mass Effect hack is massive and has everything you need to play a tabletop RPG in the Mass Effect universe except the official stamp from Bioware.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Milwaukee Record - Bay View Apocalypse

We are rapidly approaching the part of the year where Milwaukee freaks out and starts cramming activities into the weekends before winter crushes everyone's dreams. This weekend, you may want to join the zombies in Bay View drinking their way through death.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Milwaukee Record - Mighty Con Milwaukee

There's a regular small comic show that sprung up at Serb Hall. I got to speak to the owner for Milwaukee Record

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Firefly - Props From The 'Verse

I have a soft spot in my heart for well done handouts in game. I think it's my time spent playing Call of Cthulhu, pouring over fake newspaper articles and diaries for clues. Because of this, one of my common stops in the blog verse is Propnomicon. this blog always has some good links to spooky props and add-ons for horror gaming.

A couple days ago it posted some links to some fan paperwork set in the 'Verse. These pieces would be excellent props to use in a session of the Firefly RPG.

Here's a link to the initial stuff and here's one to a later page from the comments.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Save Game - Gone Gold

Save Game is in the loving arms of Evil Hat going through the layout process as of today. I don't have a firm release date yet, but as soon as I do, check my social media outlets to see when it will be available.

Thanks to everyone at Evil Hat for being amazing. If you haven't already, check out the first two products in the World of Adventure line: +Brian Engard 's cyberpunk supers setting Venture City Stories and +Richard Bellingham 's urban fantasy cats setting The Secrets of Cats. Not only are they both awesome, they are available as Pay What You Want.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Classic Con Report - Gen Con 2014

High light: The Diana Jones Awards allowed me to meet many of the Twitter buddies I've made and also awarded Hillfolk, which contains some of my work. I'm 1/64 of a Diana Jones Award winner because Robin Laws says so.

Low light: This was the first year I had copies of my work to trade, which meant I was able to arrange trades with other pros for their stuff. Of the trades I arranged, only two went off without a hitch.

Best experience: My Thursday night game of The Strange with my room crew and a few other friends. Another Nightstick for the win!

Worst experience: Getting up super early on Thursday, getting my tickets from Will Call, running several events in a row and then being told an event was running 45 minutes late when I got there, when I could have gotten dinner or something before my final game that evening.

Best bargain (had to buy it, no freebies): AEG Big board game night. $32 to play any and all of AEG's offering, then a swag box at the end full of games that are easily more than double the price of the ticket. (That's why I have two sets of Doomtown.)

Best FreebieFFG passed out a little minigame to play to those folks waiting in the massive line for their booth.

Most welcome surprise: Sunday was an excellent day instead of a harried mix of packing, last minute deals and a long drive home. Instead it was excellent networking, a lovely steak dinner, a great game that made new friends and a PPV in the hotel room.

Most unwelcome surprise: I lost my travelling hat somewhere in Indy, which had been with me from Europe to Whitewater. Vaya con Dios, camo boonie hat.

Best game: Legendary Encounters: Alien is a perfect fit for Legendary's advancing horde mechanic. It was tense, required teamwork and felt like an accomplishment when we won.

Most interesting game concept: Cluster Fight turns "who would win in a fight" into an Apples to Apples style judgment game, with the twist of cards that modify the fighters played each round. Sure, Batman could beat Homer Simpson in a fight, but what if Batman was legally blind and Homer had superspeed?

Sleeper game:  All the games I played at AEG Big Board Game Night were fun, but I was blown away by Seventh Hero. It's a bluff/press your luck game that has some wonderfully tense reveals.

Coolest booth: FFG continues its reign as the heart of Gen Con. Announcing Star Wars Imperial Assault, Star Wars Armada, and X-Com the Board Game and then running demos at the show cements their title once again.

Strangest moment: The amusing Dudebro D&D going on in the same room where we were playing some games we bought. They spent two hours on one scene, zero combat, 60% digressions about naming their ship something filthy.

Curse the Darkness
Daedalus Fate
Our Last Best Hope
The Strange
Firefly RPG
Valley of the Kings
Seventh Hero
Star Wars Imperial Assault
Doomtown Reloaded
Shadowrun Crossfire
The Battle at Kemble's Cascade
Cluster Fight
Legendary Encounters: Alien

Shadowrun Crossfire
Doomtown Reloaded
13 True Ways
Secrets of the Empire
Naishou Provice
Sentinels of the Multiverse mini-expansions
Fortune and Glory mini-expansions
Firefly Blue Sun expansion
Numenera Character Options
Numenera Cypher Chest
Force and Destiny beta
The Strange Deluxe Edition

Sentinels of the Multiverse promos
Doomtown Reloaded
Strange cypher deck
Firefly RPG
Echoes of War Thrillin' Heroics
Age of Rebellion
13th Age Bestiary
13th Age demo
Shadowrun Crossfire demo 
Crossfire promos
Romance of the nine empires
Valley of the Kings
D&D 5th Player's Handbook
D&D 5th Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Things to pick up after the con:
Incredible Expeditions
Star Wars Imperial Assault
Star Wars Armada

Memorable Quote:
"Fear the mighty Dickass the Dragon, dude!"
"Did you get Spockblocked?"
"Do you like Wendy's?"

Friday, August 8, 2014

Gen Con 2014 - Schedule

Next week marks Gen Con in Indianapolis. I'll be there for my final con of the summer and it seems like I've saved the best for last. After the exciting new experience of San Diego Comic Con, Gen Con feels like a comfortable pair of shoes. I'm running a few games at Gen Con as well as other appearances. The games are all technically sold out, but there's always a chance that a spot will open up that fills with generic tickets. If you encounter me, feel free to say hi and introduce yourself. My full schedule is after the jump.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Strange Encounter at Half-Price Books

Every few months or so, I get a link to an out of print RPG book on Amazon with a ridiculous price. The third-party seller usually wants something like  a couple grand or so. This is usually caused by the pricing algorithm getting bad info and ballooning the price up in a vacuum.

Half-Price Books has gotten a bit smarter with their pricing of OOP RPG stuff. Gone are the days where you could find a pristine copy of Keep on the Borderlands for a couple bucks. Hard-to-find stuff is now usually at least cover and, if you've got a knowledgeable member of the staff who pays attention to eBay, more.

I was in a Half-Price today and came across some 7th Sea books in their collectors case. Most of them were cover or more. They had a copy of a very rare 7th Sea book: Swordsman Guild. The price reflected the rarity - $200.

The Swordsman Guild tied for the most expensive book they had in the store. The other $200 book? A copy of Mein Kampf from the 1930's in the original German, complete with Nazi Germany symbol stamped on the front.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Firefly RPG - Thrillin' Heroics

The Firefly RPG Corebook is making its way out into the wild. Pre-orders are starting to hit mailboxes around the world. We'll also have a ton of copies at Gen Con next week, so if you're able, stop by the Margaret Weis Productions booth and I'll be glad to sign both books for you.

Both books? A Gen Con surprise awaits you after the jump.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Classic Con Report - San Diego Comic Con 2014

High light: Thursday, walking around wide-eyed and stunned at the sheer hugeness of the experience.

Low light: Time is a con-goer's most precious resource. To do anything at the show seemed to required a minimum wait of an hour, with the most popular stuff like Hall H requiring camping out overnight.

Best experience: Attending an open pitch panel for Thrillbent, the online comics site created by John Rogers and Mark Waid. Mark stayed on after the panel to listen and critique everyone's pitches, even though he didn't have to.

Worst experience: The Geek and Sundry Lounge was hot as balls and the venue seemed to be confused about the events they were running.

Best bargain (had to buy it, no freebies): Finding the one Atomic Robo trade I didn't have in one of the 50% bins.

Best Freebie: There were a lot of collectors bags from Warner Brothers, but I'm going to go with my Gotham lanyard/promo card.

Most welcome surprise: I'm not a physical wreck after the show. I packed light, got plenty of sleep and didn't have a bag of gaming books on my back.

Most unwelcome surprise: I was originally supposed to fly out Wednesday night and got bumped to the Thursday morning redeye. That gave the weekend a compressed feeling that I never quite got over.

Best costume: There was an Ursula costume at the Masquerade with articulated arms and everything. If Disney ever does a full-blown Little Mermaid stage show, they need to hire that designer.

Coolest booth: The Marvel booth was the beating heart of the show, especially when it brought celebrities by to clog up the aisle.

Strangest moment: The one original sketch at the Masquerade about farting and a scooby style mucus monster and I seriously wonder if it even happened of it was just a hallucination brought on by a Joker cosplayer's Smilex gas.

Favorite item available in the Exhibit Hall: 

Half-off trades
ISIS Badge Holder

Con ticket
Hotel room
WB bag
Gotham lanyard
Penny Dreadful lanyard

Sold out:
Pacific Rim experience

Things to buy after the con:
Even more comics

Best Quote:
"The exhibit hall is like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark except everything is for sale."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hillfolk - Ennies voting

I've been lucky this year to be involved with a lot of cool projects that are seeing some award love. Hillfolk was a chance to work with one of the living legends of RPG design and I got to do it twice with Mafia Century and Encore. Hillfolk is up for both a Diana Jones Award and an Ennie. The decision Diana Jones Award is up to the mysterious council of elders, but the Ennie is up to you, the fashionable gamer. Please consider voting for Hillfolk when you see it as one of the nominees in the voting booth.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Firefly RPG - X-Mas in July

If you're a PDF gamer, DriveThruRPG's X-Mas in July sale is a great way to stock up on great games that have come out over the past year.

If you're a Firefly gamer, the sale offers all the PDFs at 25% off, including the core book and my adventure, Bucking the Tiger. That's the adventure I'll be running at San Diego Comic-Con.

The sale runs till July 28th.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Firefly RPG - @San Diego Comic-Con

The gaming schedule is up. If you want to sign up for my Firefly RPG events, check out the website. If you happen to be close, personal friends with any of the cast, feel free to invite them to come by.

Otherwise, I'll be the bewildered Midwesterner wandering the floor. Come say hi!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Milwaukee Record - Welcome to Night Vale Interview

The radio play found new life on podcasts. Welcome to Night Vale is a spooky series featuring a small, Southwestern town where the strange is normal and every conspiracy is true. The creators took the show on the road and are coming to Milwaukee next week. I got a chance to talk to them before their show on Monday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review - Bucking the Tiger

Here's another review of Firefly RPG. Scott used Bucking the Tiger as his one shot of choice and came away with a great view of the game.

Milwaukee Record - Ren Faire Costume Guide

My previews of our excellent nearby Bristol Renaissance Faire continue on the Milwaukee Record.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Classic Con Report - Nexus Game Fair

High light:  An excellent first year con. My handler, Stephanie, was on point the entire convention, keeping the hydration flowing and arriving just in the nick of time with more food vouchers. If I get asked back next year, I definitely want her helping me again. 

Low light: I still have yet to play Artemis, despite it being right there for free at this show, with Ben playing hours and hours and hours of it..

Best experience: an excellent 8-player game of Firefly on Saturday afternoon. One person away from unlocking the Full Boat Firefly GM Achievement.

Worst experience: The construction around the hotel was pretty intense. It normally should take about 10 minutes to get there from Stately O'Wieland Manor, but detours and dodge turns almost made me late for a couple of events.

Best bargain (had to buy it, no freebies): The free party cup offered soda for a buck anywhere in the hotel.

Best Freebie: Nexus treated me well as a Guest of Honor with free passes, food vouchers, a free shirt and party cup.

Most welcome surprise: The food at the hotel restaurant was surprisingly good.

Most unwelcome surprise: Many of the seminars and panels were sparsely attended. Everyone was too busy playing games, I guess.

Games played: 
Camelot Trigger
Save Game
Doomtown Reloaded
Police Precinct

Coolest booth and why: I arranged an excellent trade with the guys at Chimera Games which provided the loots pictured above.

Strangest moment: Al Snow, professional wrestler, randomly showed up as a guest on Saturday.

Favorite item available in the Exhibit Hall: There were a lot o old-school game sellers there, including a run of Gangbusters adventures which I have already.

Stuff bought:
Deadlands Reloaded: Last Sons
Deadlands Reloaded: Smith and Robards
Edge of the Empire: Suns of Fortune
Edge of the Empire: Beyond the Rim
Smash Up: Science Fiction Double Feature
Smash Up: Obligatory Cthulhu Set
X-Wing: TIE Fighter
X-Wing: HWK
X-Wing: B-Wing

Stuff got for free:
Guest of Honor experience
Nexus T-shirt
Nexus plastic cup

Stuff that was wanted that was unavailable:
Looks like I may have to invest in the AEG Big Box for Smash-Up at Gen Con now.

Things to buy after Nexus:
Doomtown, though that's coming at Gen Con.

Best Quote:
"You're like a magical robot!"

Friday, June 20, 2014

Podcast - The Signal

My Benevolent Overlordtess Monica Valentinelli and I went on The Signal to talk about our love of Firefly and our work on the RPG.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Save Game - Nexus Game Fair Preview

Friday marks the first public playtest of Save Game at Nexus Game Fair. There are tickets still available if you'll be in the Milwaukee area. The manuscript is currently at edit stage, so I thought a sneak peek at the characters I'll be using would be a fun little tease. These characters only have their High Concept and Trouble aspects, since we'll be generating Inventory Aspects at the table. Check them out after the jump!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Milwaukee Record - Nexus Interview

For the past few years, I wrote for Onion AV Club in Milwaukee. AV Club got out of the local newspaper business (RIP), but my old editor started up a website that features the same mix of local pride and gentle sarcasm as the old publication. He's asked me to contribute from time to time and my first article is up today. I interview Chris Hoffner, one of the founders of Nexus Game Fair.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Nexus Game Fair Schedule

I'm a guest of honor at the Nexus Game Fair here in Milwaukee, WI from June 19th - June 22nd. There are a lot of excellent people at the show, but, for some reason, if you want to come and see me instead, here's where I'll be. The demos are all sold out, but there are plenty of tickets available for the Firefly seminar.

Thursday, June 19th:

6 PM: Camelot Trigger Demo

Friday, June 20th:

4 PM: Firefly RPG seminar

7 PM: Save Game public playtest

Saturday, June 21st:

Noon - Firefly Demo "Bucking the Tiger"
6 PM - Firefly Demo "Bucking the Tiger"

In addition, my friends at Plot Points podcast will be doing a live show at 8PM on Friday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hello, My Name Is

+J.R. Blackwell 's blog post today inspired me to write one of my own. It seemed a little weird to introduce myself back when this blog began. But now I have links, I have works, I have, as Niska might say, reputation. So it's time to introduce myself. Though, like so many other entries in this blog, it will double as a sign post and probably make me laugh when I come across is in a few year's time.

My name is Rob Wieland. I write. My clever response to anyone who asks me "Oh, what do you write?" is "Whatever pays." I split my time between a corporate copywriting job that pays my mortgage and freelance assignments that let me write what I want. Walking the middle path is hard. There are times when I'm envious of my colleagues who can freelance full-time and of those who have full-time jobs writing the stuff I do on nights and weekends.

I struggled with calling myself a writer for a long time.  I'm not Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or anyone like that. I knew far too many people in writing programs who were already writing their poet laureate acceptance speeches. Or who spent years working on novels that only they could see and hear. That was not my path. Writing is a career like any other. You start out at the bottom and work your way up. I was afraid to call myself a writer for a long time, throwing words like "freelance" and "aspiring" in front of it. Even now, a part of me thinks I'm jinxing myself by putting these words out there.

My first paid gig was a short story for a fiction anthology related to an RPG. I was never paid and the anthology was never released. My second paid gig was winning an open submission contest for my favorite RPG company. The line developer left shortly after the contest and I never got a chance to write for that line. Heartbreaking developments, but they taught me important lessons about professional writing. 

I'm best known for my work in tabletop RPGs. My hobby which became my passion which became my workspace. I'm best known for my work on licensed RPGs. Shadowrun, which was a game I grew up playing. Star Wars Saga Edition, which got me a Wookiepedia page. Firefly, which let me work with some people I grew up reading. Playing in these sandboxes is an honor and I love doing it. 

I've also contributed to some big world anthologies over the past few years for games like Hillfolk and Fate Core. Camelot Trigger has been an amazing experience. Save Game is shaping up to be the same. Mafia Century allowed me to address one of the big holes in tabletop RPGs. Encore was a shout out to my days as a theater kid.

Right now, I'm looking to expand my horizons. I'm in a good place but I want to be in a better one. I want to write comics. I want to write TV shows. I want to write articles for magazines. The days where writers define themselves by categories are over. I still feel like the sky is the limit even after doing this for over a decade.

Now you know who I am. I'd like to know who you are. Please introduce yourself in the comments.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Why We Write

Today is Memorial Day in America. Social media feeds will be full of flag pictures and tributes to veterans. As you can see by the picture, I'm no different. That handsome gent is Louis Wieland, Jr. He is the namesake of my gaming library. He was my grandfather and he served. But, most importantly, he knew how to tell a goddamn story and he passed that love down to me.

He didn't have heroic war stories. He talked about the mundane stuff that happened where he was stationed. He understood that people are the important part of stories. You get the people right, you get the story right. It was my first, most important lesson as a storyteller. I'm as grateful for that as I am grateful for his time as a soldier. All of this is his fault.

So, if you have the opportunity, listen to a war story from a veteran today. They want to tell one and you'll want to hear one. That's the best way we can honor their service and remember their sacrifice.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Save Game - First Save Point Reached!

I just submitted my first draft of Save Game to the heads under the Evil Hat. A playtest this weekend really helped tighten up the manuscript and the focus of the game. I'd also like to thank everyone for their support and enthusiasm in working on the game.

After the jump, there's an except for the random aspect generation I use to give each character flavor. My playtesters giggled with evil glee picking the words for their fellows to use while creating their aspects. I thought it was a clever twist to the phase trio from Fate Core.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Save Game - The Really Real World

Save Game is a fairy-tale land based on video game source material. It’s not the first tale to be told using these stories as a basis. Many other tales feature some connection to the real world, like a person trapped inside a computer or being able to look through a screen out into the real world. How important is a connection to the real world for your game?

Games that end with the rescue (or destruction) of Cartridge Gardens likely don’t need much thought about the subject. For games that proceed to other islands, some consideration about the effects on the real world can give the game more texture. Is the Glitch a virus looking to overtake all systems to gain sentience? Is it a local virus eating through the computer of one family that could wreck their daughter’s paper?

How important is the Real World to you in Save Game?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Echoes of War - Bucking the Tiger

Today is a pretty exciting day for me. The newest Echoes of War adventure is out. I'm always excited on release day, but it's a double dose because it's the adventure I wrote for the line. Bucking the Tiger features a murder mystery set at a Wild West themed casino, as an old friend of the Crew gets killed just before she's able to make good on a marker.

You can download Bucking the Tiger here.

My friends over at Plot Points Podcast asked me to come on and discuss the adventure and the Firefly RPG. The episode is split into two parts. The first part is primarily a discussion of the show and the RPG. The second focuses on the adventure. There are spoilers in the discussion, but a neat thing about the adventure is that is plays differently every time.

If you'd like to get the podcast on iTunes, click here.

If you'd like to listen in your browser, click here.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

C2E2 2014 - Instant Classic Con Report

High light: This was the first year where I felt like I made some good connections at c2e2. The previous years I got a lot of people telling me I needed an artist to draw pages to put into people hands. This year, by wandering around Artist's Alley, I got a lot of cards from potential collaborators. 

Low light: The lines for the big names I wanted to meet were huge. So I must continue to merely chat them up on Twitter.

Best experience: Driving down with Ben and Brad and getting some good conversation with best friends both days.

Worst experience: A damned sinus cold that sent me back home before seeing Thrilling Adventure Hour.

Best bargain (had to buy it, no freebies): The first three Punisher Essentials for the price of one.

Best Freebie: The Jonah Hex sketch that Jimmy Palmiotti did on the trade he signed for me. He drew something in two minutes that looks better than anything I could do in a year. 

Most welcome surprise: Running into the Ms. Marvel cosplayer whose picture I showed to Ms. Marvel's author and passing on well wishes.

Most unwelcome surprise: I as all set to spend a ton of money at the WeLoveFine booth, but they had a very limited selection. I always get compliments on my stark Industries polo and they didn't have any other polo shirts on site.

Best costume: A spot-on Chewbacca, complete with the slightly loping walk.

Best costume try: My friend Suzanne made a good Scully but everything really clicked when she got an ID badge from a nearby booth.

Most amusing costume: The guy dressed as weapon X in little more than boxer briefs and a helmet. Glad to see some beefcake on the floor.

Coolest booth and why: One of the 50% comic shops where the owner told an amusing story about how wearing a LexCorp Security polo let him help a little boy find his lost parents.

Strangest moment: Realizing an artist in Artist Alley did commissioned character sketches for my first ever Shadowrun characters some twenty odd years ago. His reaction? "Burn them. Burn them immediately."

Favorite item available in the Exhibit Hall: There were a ton of 50% off trades booths, which always make the trip worthwhile.

Stuff bought:
Cat lady art
Jonah Hex trades
Rat Queens
Punisher Essentials
Wonder Woman

Stuff got for free:
Iron Man mask

Stuff that was wanted that was unavailable:
Atomic Robo Vol. 8
Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures 2

Hawkeye trades

Best Quote:
"If it's a flock of seagulls, what do you call a group of Castiels?"
"A confusion."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Save Game - The Boss Monsters

Here are the descriptions of the bad guys in the campaign included in the game. Each generation is a different island, so we're focusing on the 8-bit island in this project. The biggest heroes have already fallen to the Glitch. They call themselves the Zeroes, and they look to destroy the final free city on the isles. Presstarton is your home and if you fall, it falls, and the Arcadian Isles will be overrun with the Glitch.

I'm sure you'll see the inspirations for the Zeroes, but I hope you get a kick out of the twists, too. They were heroes once, just...like...you...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Firefly RPG - Core Book PDF

Is it U-Day? No, it's PDF day! The electronic version of the Firefly RPG is out at DriveThru RPG.

The book comes with a great Episode, What's Yours Is Mine, but surely you want more Episodes after that?

Wedding Planners: The Crew escorts a young ingenue to her wedding to a wealthy arms manufacturer - whether she likes it or not.
Shooting Fish: The Crew comes to the aid of a Shepherd by entering a no-holds-barred boat race run by an overbearing mayor.
Friends in Low Places: The Crew gets caught between a corrupt Guild trader and the Alliance officer looking to bring him down.
Freedom Flyer: The Crew helps an old friend outrun bounty hunters to put the pieces in place for a new life.

If you want to try before you buy, Serenity Crew offers write ups for the main Crew and 12 original archetypes. Add an Echoes of War Episode for a few nights of adventure!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Clock Blockers - Actual Play

The crew over at Cthulhu on Parade played Clock Blockers and recorded the whole Fiasco.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Save Game - The Outline

I submitted my outline for Save Game to Evil Hat. How much of the outline survives to the end is pretty flexible, especially once words start pouring out and mechanics are solidified. My goal is to keep Save Game split evenly between mechanics, setting and adventure, but once I carve out the text we'll see how well that split maintains.

The outline I submitted is a bit more detailed with bits of text, but this should provide a good tease for where I'm going. Full outline after the jump!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Save Game - The Ingredients

With the release of Venture City Stories this week, the Fate Patreon experiment begins to bear fruit. My project, Save Game, is moving forward, so I thought another series of development blogs would be in order.

What's going into the pot this time?

Tron: The grandaddy of pop-culture inside the computer fantasy. It's a bit of a mixed bag between the original, the sequel/reboot (requel?) and the animated series, but it's got a lot of great ideas that still resonate today. 

Wreck It-Ralph: This love letter to video games put the idea of video game heroes coming together into the public consciousness. It also mashed up video game genres in fun ways. I want the heroes to deal with problems they aren't used to in the safety of their own game. they also did a lot of clever references and Easter eggs, which should be evident as setting details come out.

ICONS: This excellent supers game has a fun random power generation engine that compels the player to come up with a reason to link the randomly rolled powers. When I saw some combinations, I immediately thought of classic video game heroes that had really odd collections of abilities. You've got a surfboard and you're a ninja? Makes sense. You are an angry hockey player with a laser guitar? Obviously. You're a plumber who can shapeshift, jump really high and hurl fireballs? Welcome aboard! Sounds like a group of players to me!

Lord of the Rings: When I originally  envisioned the setting, I was thinking of it in superhero terms. But reframing it as an epic quest not only fit the video game paradigm, but also let me focus on the Glitch, the main bad guy. Rather than a battle against other characters, it became protecting home from the invaders. It also explained why the most well-known characters aren't fighting this battle - they blew it.

NES: I needed to pick a specific timeframe of video games because that's a pretty broad category to cover in 15,000 words. The 8-bit era was when I remember characters having personality on a regular basis rather than only the breakout stars. I'd love to see the artwork done in 8-bit style for a unique visual look. In theory, there are other islands on the Sea of Information for 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit versions. I don't think I'll be able to go into much detail, but I do know that the same character's different versions are distinct - and they squabble like family.

Mystery Men: The odd combinations of powers and the lack of famous video game characters reminds me this is a story of unlikely heroes. There are hundreds of characters that were made. This is their chance to shine, as the last defenders of their home, with everyone else unwilling or unable to do anything. I think a lot of groups will have fun playing knock-off versions of popular characters, heroes who think they are more popular than they really are or has-beens who never thought they'd get a chance to save the world.

That's what's currently bubbling in the pot. Thanks for taking the time to read this first entry. If there's anything you'd like to see in one of these entries, feel free to comment or Tweet me at @robowieland.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Echoes of War - GM's Day Sale

As part of DriveThru RPG's GM's Day sale, all the currently available Echoes of War PDFs are on sale. This is a great way to pick them up to be ready when the Firefly RPG releases soon. That's four adventures in addition to the one in the corebook. I think it's pretty cool that we have a ton of support ready for those GMs taking their players out into the verse.

The next Echoes of War Episode is written by yours truly. It's called Bucking the Tiger and features a murder mystery at a casino. The next set of Echoes episodes are all lookin' pretty good, and I can't wait for Browncoats to use the full rules to enjoy them.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hillfolk - Encore

Thanks to the generous backers of Hillfolk, there are two books full of pitches from some of the biggest and best names in tabletop game design. Pelgrane went farther than that in the Kickstarter. They're releasing a new pitch each month this year. My first pitch, Mafia Century, is part of the main Hillfolk book, which just released as a PDF. My second pitch, Encore, is up this month.

This is a series centered around the jukebox musical. These are musicals that center around an artist's songs, like Mama Mia, or around a specific genre of music, like Rock of Ages. The series follows a cast that criss-crosses the country made up of the dreamers, the has-beens and the never-will-bes. It includes rules for incorporating musical numbers into your game, with suggestions for tables full of karaoke sharks and others who couldn't carry a tune with a Girdle of Giant Strength.

Encore is near and dear to me because I did a lot of theater in high school and college. I made a lot of friends backstage, during rehearsals, at cast parties and beyond. Many of those talented people gave up those dreams when real life called, and a lucky few are on the road or making it work alongside a day job. Many of those folks ended up in the Random Names list as a tip of the hat. Running games allow me to get a small taste of that thrill again, while writing remains my true love.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Camelot Trigger - Game Geek Review

Here's a video review of Worlds in Shadows from Kurt Wiegel.

My favorite quote: "Camelot Trigger is one of the few setting or campaign ideas I've read in the past few years of my life where I've gone OH MY GOD - that's amazing."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

San Diego Comic Con Rummage Sale

I made the decision to try my luck at the Nerd Superbowl this year, aka San Diego Comic Con. It's not a cheap show, so I'm going through my stuff to see what I might be willing to part with to absorb the blow to my budget. Prices do not include shipping, but I will be adding things as we go.

Here's the link to the updated spreadsheet.

I am also interested in some trades. Feel free to share the link with any interested parties. Leave questions in the comments below or contact me privately.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Camelot Trigger - The Big Red Couch Review

Gaming blog The Big Red Couch posted a review of Worlds in Shadow in which they said some lovely things about Camelot Trigger. I think my favorite line is: "If you want mecha-themed games in Fate, this is a fantastic place to stop."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fate Core Hack - Shadowrun 2050

Here's a link to the archetypes I used for an upcoming Fate core game set in the classic Shadowrun time period of 2050.  One of the important revelations: Adapting up from Fate Core is easier than adapting down from Shadowrun.

Clock Blockers - Actual Play

DC Comics (and Paranoia XP) writer Dan Curtis Johnson ran a session of Fiasco using my Clock Blockers playset. It involves the Time Museum, historical artifacts, Leonardo DaVinci and his Jersey Shore-addled descendant. Check it over on his blog.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fate Patreon - Save Game

Part of knowing evil geniuses is being asked to participate in their experiments from time to time. When Fred Hicks sent me an email asking for some more pitches, I was just glad he wasn't asking me to watch cheesy movies in outer space. (I prefer the comfort of my couch) The company had a lot of success with Kickstarter last year, to which I was excited to contribute CAMELOT Trigger. If you're a fan of CAMELOT Trigger, and are already saying "Shut Up And Take My Money", bless your crooked little heart, and head on over to the Patreon page. Otherwise, let me bend your ear eyes for a moment and tell you about the project.

This year Evil Hat wanted to try out a new crowdfunding website called Patreon. Rather than release another big book of Fate Worlds, they want to try out a periodical model, for which Patreon is a better fit. You pledge a small amount and, when the producer is ready to put out the periodical, they send it out to you and you get charged. You only get charged when an issue is ready to go. So rather than get 6 awesome Fate settings at once, you get a regular deposit throughout the year. Brian Engard's superpunk Venture City Stories is the first out of the gate and the only one currently guaranteed to release right now. Fred's tapped some great folks in addition to myself should the project be successful, like Pete Woodworth, Shoshana Kessock and Quinn Murphy, all of whom have much prettier websites than mine.

Like Kickstarter, there are different levels of patronage, with early access and backer feedback accompanying a bigger buy in. Backer feedback was invaluable to the success of CAMELOT Trigger, and I'm looking forward to that feedback for Save Game.

For those of you who haven't looked at the page yet, here's the pitch for Save Game:

"A vicious computer virus threatens to corrupt the entire internet. The only thing standing in its way are the characters from your video games. 8-bit heroes battle monsters and corrupted files. It's Wreck-It Ralph meets Lord of the Rings. This will feature randomized character creation and other new-player-friendly features, as well as rules for playing in a digital world."

There's some ReBoot and Tron in there, too. Part of the fun will be rolling random powers and figuring out why your character jumps high, shoots fire and occasionally dresses up as a raccoon to fly. We've had some interesting discussions about characters having Lives instead of consequences and a couple of different ways to randomize power generation. Even if you don't like the idea of old-school video game heroes, you could use it to make a slightly meta game about your favorite MMO characters teaming up to beat back the forces of the Glitch.

An example of a character mutated by the Glitch?

"Corrupted pac-man sits, sarlacc/azathoth like, hungering for data in the center of a twisting turning maze, with his ghosts bringing him morefoodmorefoodmorefood"

Should the pitch get the green light, I will post development blogs again. One of the most common bits of feedback I got from CAMELOT Trigger were people who were lukewarm on the initial pitch but then came around after they read my development blogs or saw the backers draft. If that sounds like fun, and I hope it does, you can make it happen.

As long as we're talking about Fate-related Patreons, I'd like to mention Mark Diaz Truman's Fate Codex is doing well. We discussed some article ideas over the past few days, and the essay I'll be working on will be a great short project in between larger Fate gigs.

Wait. Gigs? Was that plural? Stay tuned, Fate fans...