It’s July, and those of us blessed with what’s colloquially known as “the ginger skin” are trapped indoors lest we catch fire.
Drama Llamas play testing this month has been THE MOST fun. Thanks to the gang who took part and gave such valuable feedback. There’ll be another round in August, so get in touch if you like reality TV and/or llamas, and have a flare for the dramatic!
I’ve been prepping for my first ever convention as a vendor. The up front costs are sobering, but it’s spurred me on to put some games into print for the first time, and that’s been so special. I can’t resist sharing a few photos, so here you go:
Catch us at Tabletop Gaming Live in Manchester, September 17th and 18th!
TTRPGs for Good
Another month, another outrageous sign of the times we’re living through. Even though we might have known Roe v. Wade’s time was limited, and even though it's not the law of my home country that’s affected, the sheer scale of the injustice being done to those at risk of unwanted pregnancy in the U.S. knocked the wind out of me. I know I’m not alone in that. Of course, and yet again, the indie community rallied to respond, resulting in the Indie Bundle for Abortion Funds.
I’ve seen some talk about whether these bundles are “fair” to TTRPG creators, who make so little from our art already, when people could just donate without receiving anything in return. Perhaps there’s something in that, but while that debate is unresolved one can’t argue with results, and every penny that goes towards vital medical care counts. So please do check out the bundle or donate if you’re able!
Review - Odd Jobs
Continuing my summer reading list of TTRPGs I picked up at UKGE, I recently read through Odd Jobs by Sasha Sienna and Jonathan Sims, available from MacGuffin & Co. This was a very popular purchase at the expo and in fact was nominated for an ENNIE while I was making my way through it. Congrats, folks!
First thing to note is that this is a lot of content. Eleven mini settings, each with their own locations, NPCs, short campaign guide and bonus content. It’s an impressive accomplishment, and all written in a bright, approachable style. The settings are system-neutral/adaptable and span such a broad range of genres that there’s almost certainly something here that’s a strong thematic match for your preferred system. The mood of each world is distinct, moving from monochrome to technicolor, from comedy festive caper to poignant musings on the nature of personhood, all set off by the unique art styles for each setting. Despite this variety the strength of the work and attention to detail feels consistent throughout. Tropes abound and are subverted in fun ways.
There’s little point in me offering reviews unless I’m honest when I do have a critique, though, and I did find it hard to read much of this in a single sitting. I was initially confused as to why. The writing style is friendly and witty, the layout is crisp, the art is lovely. But is a lot of prose, and a frustrating amount of it feels like explanation where none is needed. For instance, if “forensic scientist” is offered as a character option in a noir/detective setting, I don’t need a long paragraph explaining what one of those is. I’m not sure why the authors have been so sparing with devices other than prose. One exception is a d100 table of bizarre Christmas presents, which I loved. More of this sort of thing would’ve been welcome, breaking up blocks of text with rolling tables, bullet points, or even cartography, which was entirely absent. Also, while I’m sure many GMs will appreciate having so much heavy lifting done for them in terms of world building details, for me a lighter touch leaves more room for inspiration to strike, and makes the key ideas shine brighter.
None of the above should discourage you from picking this up, to be clear. There’s guaranteed fun times in these pages. It’s just not an ideal recreational read if you’re a cover-to-cover, completionist oddball like me. I’d recommend instead dipping a toe into the chapters that immediately draw you in. You’ll find a lot to love
July Freebie - Putting the "public" in "public transport"
I’m heading off on holiday tomorrow. I’ll be spending 18 days travelling around northern Europe via train. In honour of that epic journey here’s 1d20 people you see on public transport in the UK.
- Inquisitive child staring intensely at people through the gaps between seats
- Stressed student on the way to an exam, highlighting lines in their printed notes
- Office worker eating a prawn sandwich
- Mid-50s couple with a pair of small, sad-eyed dogs
- Mid-20s woman with a bag full of knitting and a 1940s hairstyle
- Woman in her 70s who keeps offering her husband things to eat. Scotch eggs, sandwiches, humbugs. He accepts half the time.
- Precocious child who loves trains and keeps asking loudly whether this is their stop
- Off-duty train conductor on their way home, exhausted and still in uniform
- Nervous man in his 30s who keeps whispering to his bag on the seat next to him. There's a Persian cat named Tansy inside.
- Person in full neon lycra who can't work out where to put their expensive mountain bike
- Old man sleeping with his head against the window
- Drunk man offering people cans out of a plastic bag
- Hen/bachelorette party with champagne in plastic flutes. They start off loud and get steadily louder as the journey continues.
- An father taking his son to a football game in their shirts and scarves
- Goth kids talking incredulously about the latest drama in their friendship group
- Two heavily tanned and lipgloss-ed teenaged girls taking selfies
- Two women in headscarves giggling together, tears of mirth in their eyes
- Loud person on the phone. If the train goes into a tunnel they say "Hello? Can you hear me?" 1d6+2 times before accepting the lost connection.
- Family unit heading off on holiday. They've got table seats and are ensconced in a suitcase fort of their own construction.
- 1d4 tourists asking for advice on how to get to the Lake District
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