Saturday, 24 September 2016

Further Perusal (A.K.A Appendix NES)

I think it's often helpful to wear your influences on your sleeve when writing for tabletop RPGs. Not only does it allow someone skimming through your work to get a good idea of what they are getting into, it also means they have a place to draw ideas from while playing and running your game.

A friend posted something for an up and coming game that had an impressive list of influences and I had to laugh, since BREAK!!'s mostly consists of video games and animated programs!

Still, I clearly think those things still have a lot of worth - I am writing a whole game thanks to them after all! So since Grey and I are hammering out the finer points at the moment, my "we aren't dead" post for the fortnight will be BREAK!!'s "Further Perusal" list.

(As always, forgive me for any roughness/typos. Still in draft and all that.)

Video Games

While those listed are some of the primary influences on BREAK!!, any game with a focus on exploration, wistful stories, bombastic characters and fantastic places could provide you with workable ideas.
  • Godslayer/Crystalis
This game presents a world recovering from the mistakes of the past, where magic and technology clash and combine. Greedy, short-sighted ambition threatens to awaken a great, slumbering danger and salvation lies with a youth on a perilous journey. Sound familiar?
  • Seiken Densetsu/Mana Series
While this game series varies in quality and style, there is a consistent story of corruption, hope and rebirth that cycles throughout. The colorful cast of characters, charming locales and grand battles would feel right at home in the Outer World.
  • NieR
NieR’s influence on BREAK!! seems obvious at first, with its misfit heroes, shambling remains of a former world and gloriously strange antagonists. But it’s the heart of its narrative, where no conflict is as black and white as it seems, that seeped the most into the game you are reading right now.

Anime and Manga

Often visually dynamic and exciting, action and fantasy anime set a basis for how the active sequences in BREAK!! might look in the mind’s eye, and the impressive visual world-building in many works can help with understanding the mysterious Outer World.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The general look and feel of this classic are natural inspirations for BREAK!!, but it’s fantastic cast of characters could easily make for a great party of adventurers. The heroine the film is named for inspired the spirit behind the Battle Princess Calling.
  • Berserk
While considerably darker than BREAK!! normally leans, Berserk has some fantastic battle scenes that should provide some good inspiration for Combat Stunts! Careful though, the terrible creatures that show up in the Black Swordsman arc and onwards may give the Game Master some ideas...
  • Morabito
This beautifully animated show also provides some wonderful battle sequences, but also a distinctly asian setting and a good idea of how Social Bonds between adventurers look like in play.
  • The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk/Sword of Uruk
While not terribly original, this anime provides a very good visual basis for the sort of  dungeon crawling and various character types that may show up in a campaign. There are also hidden depths to its otherwise light hearted story, which lends itself well to BREAK!!.

Other Animation

While Anime provides BREAK!! with its primary visual basis, there is plenty of other animated features that present complementary images or even alternative ones.
  • The Last Unicorn
BREAK!!’s immortal characters and creatures were directly informed by this beautifully melancholic story. Also; Molly Grue is perhaps the perfect Factotum character, even if she is missing an oversized backpack.
  • Wizards
The darker parts of this film should give you a pretty good idea of how the Shadowed Lands look. Without giving too much away, it’s also the main reason Sages are able to use small mechanical missile weapons.


Books will always be a good source of ideas of any kind, but the ones presented here contain settings or themes that resonate very closely with BREAK!!’s.
  • The Earthsea Series
A beautifully written set of books that provide good examples of how magic, social bonds and even travel might work in play.
  • The Once and Future King
The Outer World’s many beautifully flawed attempts at being an overall better place and the hope that it may all work out someday we’re mostly informed by this version of the story of King Arthur. Merlin and the other magic users in this collection were also the primary inspiration for the Sage Calling.
  • The Swords Trilogy
While nearly all of the stories of the Eternal Champion would be good reading for BREAK!!, Corum’s first set of adventures are especially so with its put upon hero, pushy gods and colorful, fractured setting.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

More on Monsters

Grey talked about monsters about a year ago - we got all worked up about them but quickly decided too cool our jets a bit until the bulk of the game was done.

Well howdy hey, the bulk of the game is done and now I'm working on the Game Master stuff, including - Monsters! (Well, if we want to be specific, "Entities" since that includes things like dungeon merchants and destined heroes along with your typical monster opponents)

Since then I've streamlined some things and expanded others. The goal is to have the entries in the book serve three purposes:

  • Be evocative and easy to use right out of the box.
  • Allow for easy tweaking for various needs
  • Provide examples for those Game Masters who want to make up their own stuff

That shouldn't be too hard, right?
Below is my working template for creatures thus far.


Purpose (A brief tagline or pitch for the Entity)


  • A bit on this Entry’s background

Menace Level

  • The Menace Level (Mook, Boss, Mega Boss or Colossus) of the Entity.


  • The Rank (0-15) of the Entity.


  • How many Allegiance Points the Entity has, if any.

Home Region/Habitat

  • The sort of places this Entity lives in and might be found.


As denoted by Rank, Equipment and certain Abilities.
  • Might [ ]
  • Deftness [ ]
  • Grit [ ]
  • Insight [ ]
  • Aura [ ]

Combat Stats

As denoted by Rank, Equipment and certain Abilities.
  • Hearts [ ]
  • Attack [ ]
  • Speed [ ]
  • Defense Rating [ ]


  • Abilities the Entity may employ.

Communication Methods

  • Languages that this Entity can speak and read, as well as any special means of communication (such as telepathy).


  • Some suggestions of how this Entity can effectively engage in conflict.


  • Gear that can be taken from this creature or Materials/Additives that can be extracted from them if slain. The latter requires a relevant Ability.


  • Indicators - Signs that this character or creature may be in an area, if any.
  • Role-Playing Notes - Notes on the personality, mannerisms and motivations of this Entity.
  • Customization - A few ways to easily tweak this Entity to fit a particular campaign or adventure.

Variants and Related Entries

  • Any existing variants of the entity featured in the entry.

Creature Map (If Applicable)

  • Colossal Creatures are so large that they are made up of Battlefield Areas. Entries describing them will also include a map of the creature, providing information on:
  • Any special considerations on moving between these Areas.
  • Various Strike and Core Points on the Creatures, and the effects of destroying or disabling the former.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

TridentCon 2016

First things first!
While I still have some lists to fill (oh boy monsters!) and a good chunk of under-the-hood type stuff to write, I can say now that all the core rules of BREAK!! are drafted. Patting myself on the back for a moment. Now then, on to that other stuff!

I'll be running a session of BREAK!! at TridentCon again this year. The summary for the adventure is as follows:

Written by Reynaldo Madrinan
Consigning a bundle of Ever-Fresh Fish to the village of Amado is a annual tradition for Portia's Paw Post, but a tragic bakery incident has put all the local couriers out of commission! Now a group of temporary Post-Persons must brave land, sea and sky to make sure a temperamental lake God doesn't miss his yearly lunch.
Characters will be generated at the table.
Some new stuff that will be tested by this Adventure:
  • Character Generation
  • Overland Travel
  • Adventure Site Travel
I'm pretty excited! I'll even be playing in a few games there to, so if you live in the USA and near the state of Maryland you should definitely check it out.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Party Position

While BREAK!! isn't super rigid about it, there is a bit of a procedure while moving through Dungeons and other Adventure Sites. Part of it is how you're moving through the place (Carefully, Quietly, or Quickly, naturally) the other is how your party is set up. Both have a small set of rules, but the latter is what's being talked about here.

So far this has worked out well - it's part of my ongoing effort to avoid "dump stats" by making the whole party benefit from haveing more than one character having a high Insight Aptitude and it also means when important stuff happens people already know where they were probably standing.

I've been writing my players most common formation on a little index card (with the scouts off to the corner) - I think actually having a seperate little party sheet with symbols for each position would be cool, but I'm working poor Grey hard enough as it is.

Party Position

While not quite as drilled or rigid as a military formation, you and your fellow adventurers likely have a sense of where you all should be while travelling somewhere dangerous. Even if you are not in the exact place suggested by your position, you are still concentrating on the task that comes with it.
  • If there are not enough party members to have a Point, Examiner and Vanguard, one person may opt to take multiple positions. Doing so means that Character has a Snag on all Insight Rolls related to their position(s).
  • Multiple party members may take up the same position once there is at least one person in the Point, Examiner and Vanguard positions.

You are at the front of the party, keeping an eye out for approaching enemies and protecting the other members from sudden danger.
  • The party may use your Insight Aptitude to detect any unknown dangers, such as an approaching ambush or hidden trap if there is no one in the Scout Position.
  • If the party sets off a trap or is faced with some similar danger (a wave of magic energy, rolling boulder, or an arrow launched from a device connected to a trip wire, to name some examples) you may forgo any chance to dodge the effect to shield the rest of the group from it.

You are in the center of the party, looking for noteworthy features or any other interesting things one might miss on a cursory glance.
  • The party uses your Insight to notice important room features such as hidden doors, gems in the eyes of a statue or magical sigils on a dungeon wall.
  • This only comes into effect if the party moves quickly through a room rather than take the time to stop and search through it.

You are in the back of the party, acting in a way similar to the Point but in reverse: You watch for ambushes and can protect the party against attacks from behind. You also have the best chance to retreat - not that you were thinking of doing that or anything.
  • The party uses your Insight to detect any dangers from behind - such as pursuing enemies or oddly oriented traps.
  • You may retreat at the start of combat or other perilous situations (assuming it originates at in the front part of the party) and avoid it entirely if you can find a place to run or hide.

You are actually a bit ahead of the rest of the party, moving quietly while looking for potential foes, traps and other perils.

  • You may opt to make your Deftness Check for stealthy movement (x.x.x) separately from the rest of the party, or even if the rest of the party is not attempting to do so.
  • The flip side is that if you are caught, you are on your own for at least one Turn ( it may be longer if the rest of the party is very far away or otherwise held back!)
  • Assuming you communicate with them via hand signals or otherwise, the party uses your Insight to detect hidden dangers, such as approaching ambushes or traps.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Materials and Additives

I'm nose deep in GM stuff so I thought I'd post something fun here.

One of my goals with BREAK!! was to make it so that actual pre-made magical and technological items (Relics) would actually be rare and powerful. Something that a Game Master could introduce into the game because they wanted that extra panache, but also something they could omit and not have the game suffer too much for it.

This is why Crafting was made to be as simple as possible. It should be easy for players to interact with so; 

  1. All the odd stuff they find can be put to good use and have some sort of tangible value.
  2. Make it so that lesser, "+1 Sword" style magic items were still kind of fun because players would be the ones putting them together.
Crafting entails taking a Magical Material, crafting into an item of your choice, and using Additives to give it special Abilities. Also some rolls and such are involved but you can wait until you have your hands on the rules for that.

Materials are just that. As is true of most of BREAK!!, common sense rules apply when it comes to the [type] - You can certainly make a weapon out of metal, and maybe even timber, but not usually out of a consumable. 

A solid consumable can be used to make an enchanted pastry, but not a fizzy potion.

Oh yeah, all materials have a small special effect attached to them because I think it's fun.

Shade Iron [metal]
An inky-black metal created when crude iron is left to rust in an Asura’s blood. Its malevolent origin grants it an oppressive aura.
  • Items made from Shade Iron will howl and groan in an unearthly manner while in motion. These sounds are as quiet as a whisper or loud as a shout depending on the desires of the bearer

Shadough [solid consumable]
A hearty and buttery dough crafted from cereals that grow in the Deep Shadowlands. The fact that it does not spoil makes it invaluable among Shadowland nomads.

  • Items made from Shadough do not need to be carefully packed. They remain at room temperature and will not accumulate filth regardless of how they are stored.

Additives don't follow the same rules.
Each one can grant certain types of Abilities if used during crafting - not every kind of item can have every type of Ability attached. For example, using a Gale Element Gem to make a Sword will give you a sword that can do Gale damage, whereas a suit of armor would instead gain protection from the same sort of damage.

Trapped Song

These small glass baubles are actually the crystallized voices of the merpeople lost in the Shadowed Sea. While usually in the possession of the fearsome Sea Witches, sometimes these treasures bob to the surface for lucky sailors and fishermen to discover.

  • Glamour: The bearer of the Item gains an appropriately lovely and melodious voice that compliments their attempts at discourse and performance, and has an edge on all Checks during the Negotiation procedure that allow for speaking.
Element Gem
Small, precious stones that form in areas of high elemental activity or affinity. These jewels course with a powerful energy, and can transfer this power to items they are incorporated into during Crafting.
  • Attack Ability: The item may do damage of the associated element (Flame, Shock, Frost or Gale) instead of normal damage.
  • Defense Ability: The bearer of the item takes one Heart less damage from any attack or offensive ability of the associated element (Flame, Shock, Frost or Gale).

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Setting Material

I've been plugging away at setting info for the Outer World for a few days now. Fluffy flavor stuff is a good way for me to sort of stretch mentally, so I thought it would be a good thing to do right before diving headlong in the the GM section of the game.

So I recently posted on G+ concerning ideas for a setting timeline - and response was less positive than I'd hoped for. Most people simply do not want to take a lot of time to pour through extensive info of any kind. Not that I'm bitter: I am really glad that I can use the input now instead of pouring anymore time into it.

So I've gone a different route with it. Instead of longer timeline with specific dates, each of the four Aeons is covered thusly;

3rd Aeon: The Age of Three Empires

With the monarchs of antiquity vanquished and driven away, mortals rise to unopposed prominence. Many nations are born, but a clear triumvirate emerges; a bright and shining kingdom, a realm bathed in shadow, and a country of iron and gears. These empires become both the hope and terror of the age, inventing, warring and ever-growing.

The Hero of the 1st Aeon captures the sun and declares war on the triumvirate. The empires join forces and the resulting conflict wounds the Hero, breaks the sun and slays the world's oldest dragon. The empires save their people, but are ruined in the process.

Hopefully enough to stimulate the imagination and grant tangibility to the Outer World's history, but not enough to strangle interest and creativity. I am taking the same route with write-ups on locations in the current, 4th Aeon.

The Shadowed Lands

There is no law or order in this haunting landscape of tundra and fungal forests. The nomads of the Shadowed Lands must unceasingly contend with the restless dead, raiders and overzealous crusaders from Shard that work to shatter what little piece they can build.

Adventures in the Shadowed Lands might include protecting nomad caravans, battling powerful undead creatures, and scouring forgotten places for anything of value.

Notable Sites

  • Lekia, The City of Old Sins
  • Phantom Frost Fortress
  • The White Moth Opera House

The idea is to give a brief summary of an area, as well as a few tidbits to give some ideas to an eager GM.

Of course, these will likely be more fleshed out in modules down the road, but I like for the main book to give possibilities as opposed to definitive - these sorts of things should be adaptable to a multitude of tones and styles, after all.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Actually, about Gencon....

Thanks to some recent car troubles (and the expenses that have come from them) my wife and I won't be able to make it to Gencon this year, meaning the BREAK!! game there is cancelled.

While disappointing, I'll try to use this to redouble my efforts in completing BREAK!!, rather than moping. Also it should get me to post here too - I don't want this downer entry to be the top one for too long, after all.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Take a BREAK!! with Contessa

I have been bad at keeping up, but here is a small update - my dear wife Annah will be running a BREAK!! adventure at GenCon. She'll be doing so at the Contessa event there.

I feel bad for not mentioning it before (they already sold all the tickets for game!) but I hadn't realized the events had popped up. I'll admit I'm a little nervous about the whole thing but I am also very, very proud to say that the very first BREAK!! game not run by me will be held in such a manner.

If you are there this year, and you can't catch Annah running the game, you'll probably find me nearby pacing around and feeling too anxious to peak in myself.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Experience Points

(An Excerpt from the Character Advancement Section.)

Experience Points

  • There are two categories of Experience Points that may be awarded;
  • Effort Experience is granted the end of each session. The type earned is dependent on how you approached the trials and perils you came across.
  • Everyone in the party receives the same amount of Effort Experience, though they may not all earn the same type!
  • Objective Experience is earned when your party accomplishes a specific goal or acquires something extraordinarily valuable.
  • All experience points are valued equally for advancing in Rank.

GM TIP: The methods for rewarding Experience Points are discussed more thoroughly in the Game Master’s section.

Effort Experience Points

  • You gain a single point of Effort Experience for each hour you spend playing a session of BREAK!!.
  • You may earn more than one type of Effort Experience based on how varied your role-playing and problem solving was during the adventure.


These points are awarded for sessions that you confronted obstacles with force, combat, or intimidation.


These points are awarded for sessions that you avoided trouble via trickery, stealth or deceit.


These points are awarded for sessions where you demonstrated sound reason, skill or cleverness.


These points are awarded for sessions where you solved problems through diplomacy or demonstrated great courage or empathy.

Objective Experience Points

  • Every member of your party will be awarded an Objective Experience point at the end of sessions where the requirements for one of the Objective Experience types is fulfilled.
  • Multiple Objective Experience Points may be awarded for particularly successful sessions.
  • Always remember that these things must be gained through effort, not luck! Stumbling on a great hoard of treasure won’t earn you a Crystal Point, but slaying or tricking a dangerous monster to claim that same treasure would.


Points in this category are received when the party manages to acquire something of significant value through deliberate action or planning on their part. This doesn’t have to be material wealth; a well guarded secret, rights to a choice piece of land or a deal with a powerful Guild Leader are a few examples of things that could net a point of Crystal Experience.


Star Experience is earned through great deeds that affect something larger than the party itself. These are feats that make people talk and find their way into ballads: finding a safe haven for a group of Shadowed Land Nomads, overthrowing the ruler of a kingdom, or publically thwarting the efforts of some terrible enemy could earn a point of Star Experience.


Shadow Points are earned when the party accomplishes something personally significant or secretive. Returning a lost child to their worried caretakers, getting revenge on the person that killed a character’s parents or following a secretive scheme to fruition are all things that might net a point of Shadow Experience.