2022 In Review

Looking back at 2022 for Plane Sailing Games

2022 is starting to creep back to normality, but is still a long way off what we were used to before the pandemic. It has been a slower year for me in some ways, but exciting in others.

Inner Circle

This is a new lightweight black comedy story game about terrible lieutenants serving a despotic leader. Loosely based on the card game Blackjack, the players push their luck while proposing plans to delight their deranged leader. The best plan keeps their credibility intact, those who fail lose credibility and eventually end up for the chop!

I’ve got a few design blogs posted last year about the concept, mechanics and playtest and it was successfully kickstarted last year.

I’m very excited that there is a youtube review of Inner Circle by “The Gaming Table” which you can watch here

Adventures in the Underbelly

This one has been a long time coming! When I launched my first RPG, Starguild: space opera noir, the most common questions I was asked were about cybernetic enhancements and psionic powers. My response was “Adventures in the Underbelly” which includes rules for both cybernetics and psionic powers, organisations to include in the campaign and six adventures — two sets of three linked adventures for new characters or one-shot use that highlight the new rules and engage PCs with important organisations in exciting and desperate ways.

It was published early in the year and is available in lovely colour from DriveThruRpg

Retrospective Game SRD

At the end of the year, in December, I launched my Retrospective Game SRD. This is an encapsulation of the rules behind my Ennie-nominated “A Cool and Lonely Courage” and the basis of two or three upcoming games which I’m working on. I’m publishing this System Reference Document here and on itch.io in pdf form to encourage other people to use them to tell rich stories of people looking back on their life.

I hope to be able to encourage people to use these for a game jam in the near future (once I work out how to do that!)

Almost No Conventions 😳

Again this has been a year without conventions to bring games to for playtesting. This makes me sad. I would have liked to attend the UK Games Expo in the summer, but it didn’t seem quite safe enough at the time. Later in the year I was fully intending to attend Dragonmeet, but was struck down with illness which combined with a train strike made it inadvisable. Last thing I want to do is infect people with anything.

The house con in Boston that I love attending took place, and I ran valuable playtests of Inner Circle, Expect Three Visitors and Born to the Purple there. As always playtests are a lot of fun AND provide actionable intelligence. So good.

Fingers crossed for Metatopia in 2023.

A twitch/podcast interview 😊

On the plus side, I was able to take part in a fabulous twitch/podcast/youtube interview by EN Publishing’s Jessica Hancock. She invites the creators behind different role playing games that are “not DnD”! I find myself in the middle of some wonderful and well-known designers. It was the chance to talk about A Cool and Lonely Courage, Love & Barbed Wire as well as my journey into RPGs in general and publishing in particular.

There is a playlist of all the NotDND interviews that is worth a peruse… lots of great talks are on there. There are some games which I bought on the strength of these interviews.

Game Design Work

I’ve been working on a number of games this year which are in various stages of development. Here is a quick run-down of them.

White Rose Society/Edelweiss Pirates

I’m in the early research phase for a game about the White Rose Society, a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany who ran a leaflet and graffiti campaign calling for active opposition to the Nazi regime. Not sure on the name for this yet.

Deeds not words (working title)

I’m also in the early research phase for a game about the Suffragette movement in the UK. I’m particularly interested in asking the question “How much would you be prepared to sacrifice in order to gain the vote?” I think it is an interesting question to ask in these days when fewer and fewer people seem to be interested in exercising the franchise.

Expect Three Visitors

My story game inspired by the story of Scrooge which centres people struggling with any of the seven deadly sins, and the scenes from their past, present, and future which a spirit shows them to help them realise the impact their life has on others, for good and ill. It could also be played in a “It’s a wonderful life” mode to make for a game about nice people rather than flawed people. Hopefully playtesting will continue well and I’ll be able to launch it with a kickstarter this year.

An early playtest report is up on the site to get a flavour of how games can go.

The Long Road Home

My next Retrospective game is inspired by the hobbits on their journey back to the Shire after all the events of their great adventures. It will use the flashback mechanism to allow a party of adventurers to think about the highs and lows, the successes and failures of their adventures. To remember the friends which they made and lost along the way. And finally, to see what happens at their journey’s end. I plan to include fantasy, science fiction and zombie apocalypse settings for starters in the game.

Born to the Purple (working title)

When I wrote a review of Blades in the Dark way back in December 2019, I mentioned that I was thinking about developing a ‘forged in the dark’ version of Starguild — taking what I loved about my setting and concepts and bringing it to a more modern ruleset.

I’ve continued planning and designing something tightly focussed around space diplomats finding their way amidst changing agendas and policies. Making deals and compromises along the way while the galaxy might be collapsing around them (metaphorically).

Last year I wrote design diaries about Facts, replacing money with favour, and Power brokers and attitudes to psionics. I plan to write up more in the coming months.

I hope that 2023 is a happy and healthy year for all my readers, and that you are all able to enjoy a raft of fun games, new and old!

Cover photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels