Posted on Leave a comment

Where Find Dancing Lights Press: May 2020

Dancing Lights Press

The end of this month marks the fourth anniversary of Dancing Lights Press. Today, the first of May 2020, I am taking steps to be more communicative and engage more actively with the community. My first goal is to blog regularly. I want to let you know about what’s in the pipeline. Maybe open up some discussion about upcoming games and works in progress. I notoriously suck at this, so please bear with me. And feel free to offer any constructive advice you have.

Where Find Dancing Lights Press: May 2020

The place to find absolutely everything that’s currently available is DriveThruRPG. If you’re opted-in to receive emails, I send out a newsletter that announces new releases, offers discount codes, and dispenses occasional bits of philosophy and advice.

Recently I’ve added select digital titles to Gumroad. It’s an experiment. I’m planning to expand into more non-tabletop roleplaying content, particularly zines, and Gumroad looks like a good place to sell them.

Dancing Lights Press has a Twitter account, and I need to do more with it. Please feel free to engage with me. Let me know what you’d like to see me use that account for. There’s also an Instagram account, which also needs some love.

Forget about YouTube or podcasts for now. I have a great face for radio and an even better voice for mime. A blog is as far as I’m comfortable going in terms of moving out “introverted hermit” mode. Small steps.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

DoubleZero: What It Is, What It Isn’t

doublezero

DoubleZero: What It Is, What It Isn’t. Allow me to be up front about one thing: don’t expect the James Bond setting (book or film) with the serial numbers filed off. Fight scenes, chases, and investigation, yes. International espionage, possibly, but also police procedural, crime drama, and heist adventure. The system is being set up to play anything that doesn’t place magic, superpowers, or anything paranormal into the hands of the characters. You can do whatever you want with it.

A System, Not a Setting

Which means that yes, you can run a campaign inspired by the Mission: Impossible movies, the Fast and the Furious franchise, and the John Wick canon. Build your dream Ocean’s 11/Jason Bourne crossover, or your own personal pastiche based on who you thought should have been in The Expendables.

My tastes skew a little differently. I prefer my spy stuff to be more like The Sandbaggers or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. That chatty John Le Carre stuff. But I also want to be able to run Sons of Anarchy, The Wire, or The Sopranos. Fewer car chases and gunfights, sure, but the danger is real.

You should be able to cobble together dark British detective shows like Luther, Broadchurch, and Sherlock. American procedurals like CSI, Law & Order, or Bones. Run an investigative journalism adventure in the spirit of All the President’s Men, Spotlight, or The Post. Even science fictional things, like Orphan Black, The X-Files, or Mr. Robot, are possible because advanced technology is more of a plot point than cool weapons or special abilities wielded by the player characters.

Not a Retro-Clone, Nor a Basic Roleplaying Hack

DoubleZero is not intended to be a direct retro-clone of Victory Games’ James Bond 007 roleplaying game. I’m not just saying that for legal reasons. Was it inspired by that? Absolutely. Could you, with a bit of effort, convert material between the two? Sure, but with a bit of effort you can do that with any two game systems. I say this all up front, because inevitably someone will leave a comment along the lines of “but the 007 game does things this way, and you do things that way” as if my design choices were a) unintentional and b) wrong.

Let’s call it an homage and move on.

The system is built on GORE™, which is an Open Game Licensed system bearing a strong resemblance to and a high degree of compatibility with the Basic Roleplaying system. DoubleZero is likely not going to share that compatibility, if for no other reason than I’ve completely changed the core mechanic and fiddled with a lot of other rules. Again, can you convert material between the two systems? Sure. Is it meant to be the BRP version of 007? Nope. I picked it because it’s a percentile system with an open license. That gave me a foundation to work with, and did a lot of the heavy lifting for me.

DoubleZero: What It Is, What It Isn’t

When I listed my design goals, they weren’t “I want that game” (looking at 007). It was “I want a game that does that“. I was looking at the sorts of things the 007 system can do, and the types of movies and television shows I think would be fun to run as tabletop roleplaying games. That’s the mission.

Posted on 2 Comments

DoubleZero: How It Works

doublezero

Here’s a bare-bones, quick-and-dirty explanation of the DoubleZero core mechanic and how it works. Revised May 31 2020.

  • It’s a percentile system.
  • Everything is driven by 5 Attributes: Strength (STR), Dexterity (DEX), Willpower (WIL), Perception (PER), and Intelligence (INT).
  • Tasks are assigned a Modifier (Mx) from 1 to 5. These are multipliers. If you need to make a DEX check Mx3, you need to roll 3x your DEX or less. So if your DEX is 12, you need to roll 36 or less.
  • Skills increase your Mx by 1, when they’re relevant. If that DEX check above is to shoot at someone, and you have the Fire Combat Skill, the Mx3 increases to Mx4. You need to roll under 48, not 36.
  • Concentrations as skill specializations. If a character has Firearms (Sniper), meaning they’re generally good with guns but especially good shooting people at a distance, they get a Mx bump when relevant. The above Mx moves from 4 to 5.
  • If you succeed in a task, the Outcome (O) is based on the actual Mx you achieved. Say your DEX is 12. With Firearms (Sniper) your Mx is 5. Any roll of 60 or less is a success. If you roll a 19, that would have succeeded for Mx2. The outcome is 2, above the standard. For the Firearms skill, it means doing extra damage.
  • Don’t worry, this will all be on the character sheet so you don’t need to do math. in your head, on the fly.
  • Outcome has different meanings for different Skills, obviously. A low O when looking for a clue means your found more / better information, for example.
  • There are Hero Points. You get one every time you score an Outcome 1. They can be spent to improve your Outcome on other rolls. Turn a failure into a success, a success into a better success. But use them wisely, because you can run out.

That’s the basics. If this seems familiar, as if it’s almost beat-for-beat the way a classic, out-of-print game works, that is exactly the point. I’ll cover that in a future post.

Posted on Leave a comment

This Week’s Hottest Titles: April 26 2020

Here are the Top 10 Hottest Dancing Lights Press titles this week, as of April 26, 2020:

  1. Building Worlds [Second Edition]
  2. Building Characters [Second Edition]
  3. Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters, Revised
  4. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue four
  5. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue five
  6. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue six
  7. Setting Design [Black Box Edition]
  8. Building Characters [Black Box Edition]
  9. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue three
  10. Story Structure [Black Box Edition]
Posted on Leave a comment

For the First Time in History…

For the first time in history, a month will go by without a new release from Dancing Lights Press. I’ve put out something relatively consistently since May 2016. Hopefully you already understand why this is happening.

Some people would think that isolation would mean more time to write and design. World events haven’t really left me in a creative mood, though. A lot of my friends are in essential jobs, from grocery clerks to delivery drivers to healthcare professionals. I know that a lot of you are struggling. It’s a rough time all around.

What have been been doing is planning. This is the first time, ever, that I get to sit still and be proactive, rather than reactive. My approach to things going forward will be more organized, with stronger games and better communication.

I hope this finds everyone safe and well.

The Week’s Hottest Titles

Here are the Top 10 Dancing Lights Press titles this week:

  1. Building Worlds [Second Edition]
  2. Building Characters [Second Edition]
  3. Bullet Journaling for Gamemasters, Revised
  4. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue four
  5. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue five
  6. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue six
  7. Setting Design [Black Box Edition]
  8. Building Characters [Black Box Edition]
  9. hippogryph ttrpg zine: issue three
  10. Story Structure [Black Box Edition]