This year, a sky of silver-lined clouds precedes March winds and April showers.
I had hoped to officially announce the publication of my first tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) this month. However, pioneering a new print-on-demand service with its copious idiosyncrasies has firmly pushed The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd into position for a March release.
Yet I am happy to report that intrepid designer Mary Christopherson and I have successfully navigated the new-for-us process, and a proof copy should arrive for review in a week or two. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the TTRPG will appear in the online store shortly thereafter—though DriveThruRPG warns that even the approval process can take a couple weeks!
(Eager parties can sneak a peek at the book’s interior here.)
But, as I mentioned earlier, February isn’t all doom and gloom for my writing because a certain video game containing my creative touches launched last week. I am delighted to report that Forge 215’s The Specter Chronicles: Episode 1 is now available for the public to play!
Over the years, I’ve made no secret of my ambitions to contribute to the video-game medium. Last year, I checked this item off my bucket list by creating unique characters, encounters, and quests for The Specter Chronicles, a cyberpunk RPG that combines a text-based adventure with turn-based tactical combat.
To complete my assignments, I had to learn how to use Twine, an open-source game engine software tool for building nonlinear narratives. The format resembles a flowchart governed by if/then logic, which requires an author to write a single beginning, many middles, and multiple endings—essentially, drafting various versions of each “chapter.”
These exercises stretched my imagination in new ways and forced me to anticipate what players would want to do in any given scenario while providing appropriate consequences for those actions. For a fan of “what if” brainstorming, outlining disparate outcomes for a single starting point was a great deal of fun. Whereas TTRPGs provide general guidelines for gamemasters to run their adventures, video games require strict rules for the technology to function flawlessly.
Which meant I could leverage both my left-brained leanings and right-brained proclivities for this project.
The quests I’m most proud of are as follows:
- Specter’s Salvation — After a fair amount of sleuthing, Specter comes face to face with the Zealot, a nemesis who has more in common with Specter than he cares to admit.
- Grandmaster — Specter’s strategic mind is put to the test by a cunning android who transforms an abandoned arena into a perilous chess match.
- The Shrine of Yesteryear — A confused codger needs Specter’s help to relocate his relics from old Earth, all of which come with a confused (and comedic) explanation.
- Honeypot — Specter must find creative ways to fight his way out of a skyscraper teeming with soldiers of the Cartesian Order, only to face a killer clergywoman waiting outside.
- Love and War — The figurative femme fatale in this posh rendezvous has a few secrets in store for Specter, all of them deadly.
Of course, creating characters always takes the cake for me. Here are a few of my favorite Sector 16 residents, which players will encounter in The Specter Chronicles—for good or for ill!
(Character illustrations by @sherbetday)
Oleksandr blinks a few times before gathering the courage to look up at Specter. “I…I provide a…a…service!”
“Drug…such a crude little word to represent a manufactured miracle you can hold in the palm of your hand.”
“I may look like a cripple but I’m something else entirely when I’m in my element!”
“Man and machine…both succumb to the same cycle of creation and destruction, with the new feeding on the old.”
As Specter approaches her table, Sadie arches her back and entwines her fingers behind her head. She licks her black-stained lips and says, “Have a seat, Specter.”
Father Jubal performs a low bow. “I am, as always, at your service, Specter.”
Play for free (for now)
If you’re interested in leaving the safety of the Warden’s enlightened embrace and prowl the dystopian streets of Sector 16, you can download the game from Steam for free for a limited time.
In between death-defying missions, I’ll be putting the final touches on my launch strategy for The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd next month. Because this spring in particular, when it rains, it pours!
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