The Near Destiny of Dig 1,000 Holes

  • Pencils have been pushed.
  • Numbers have been crunched.
  • Maths have been done.
  • And all calculations point to the same inescapable conclusion:

2015 will be my most productive year since the 70s.

This is no easy task, given the productivity of the past couple of years. In 2013, I published the entire Vast & Starlit library, What is a Roleplaying Game? and Wolfspell, not to mention launching the Worlds Without Master ezine. In 2014, with the combined might of the Patron Horde at my side, I published four more issues of Worlds Without Master and through them two new roleplaying games: Swords Without Master and Sorceress Bloody Sorceress.

However, 2015 will see, among other projects, at least four new games from me.


Lincoln-IconThere are many trials an idea must go through before it starts to take shape as an actual game. And that’s when the true tests begin. Thus far, this Robin Hood inspired game is proceeding apace. It has officially reached the point where I have more trouble envisioning a future without it than I do envisioning a future with it.

It will be well into the year before the game is done, but there will be mischief afoot in the Greenwood afore that. Keep a wary eye upon the #LincolnGreen hashtag on G+ for more details anon.

Worlds Without Master Presents

Worlds-IconI have three new games waiting to be published within the pages of Worlds Without Master. The first of these will likely be is Invisible Empire, wherein ambassadors, explorers and other dignitaries eschew crucifixion by delighting the Silent Emperor with accounts of the many splendors and horrors to be found under his gracious and benevolent rule.

This will probably be followed by Beggars’ Night which is about the night the beggars’ guild took their revenge upon the thieves’ guild. And then by one tentatively entitled The Red Ecstasy of Glory. Each of these is a stand-alone game playable in an hour or less, but they also make up the foundation for Swords Without Master and are designed to teach how to squeeze the very best play out of that system.

In addition to these new releases, a few titles previously published in the ethereal pages of Worlds will reappear in more tangible forms, the first of which you will hear about in a few weeks. I do not wish to spoil the surprise, but wolves may be involved. And mayhaps spells. Wolves and spells. But I have already said too much.

I’m not even stopping there when it comes to the future of Worlds. 2015 will probably see six new issues, which means more fiction, more comics, more games, more swords and more sorcery. Including some rather terrifying plans to blossom into new forms. If you’re not already a member of the Patron Horde and you don’t want to miss out on all this, you best get on that.

The Untold Future

D1kH-IconThere are a few games that have been sitting on the backburner (some for quite a while) that are slowly reaching a boil. I will not mention them by name, for I wish to avoid disturbing their simmering slumber. We cannot yet count them among the works slated for release in 2015, but we can hope.

We can always hope.

The Tally

But let’s set that bit of vague speculation aside for the moment and look at the cold, hard numbers.

Best Year for Total Game Releases

2013 with 3: Vast & StarlitWhat is a Roleplaying Game? and Wolfspell.

Best Year for Total Issues of Worlds

2014 with 4: Issues Three through Six.

Projected Releases for 2015

4 new games: Lincoln Green, Invisible Empire, Beggars’ Night and The Red Ecstasy of Glory.
6 new issues of Worlds Without Master.

As I have said, these calculations are inescapable: 2015 will be my most productive year since the 70s. I will dig these thousand holes yet!

The Fire is Lit

Issue 6 for Worlds Without Master has been unleashed upon the world. It’s a 23-page PDF that includes:

399-IconYou can get your copy for $3.99 at, Payhip or DriveThruRPG.

Go get it now. I’ll wait. When you get back, let’s talk a bit about A Scoundrel in the Deep.

Oh, you’re back! Wonderful! Now we can talk about playing with fire.

As you can see, A Scoundrel in the Deep is a two-player roleplaying game that—like some other ground-breaking roleplaying game Wil Wheaton has told me about—uses something far more exhilarating than dice to keep things moving. In the case of ASitD the action is prodded along with fire. Specifically, a lit match.

“…My lamp dwindles. Tired and hungry, I must scramble in pitch dark, only a few matches in my pocket separate me from endless inky blackness…”

One player plays the titular Scoundrel, who has plundered the Tomb of the Deep and now seeks to return to the surface world. This scoundrel is a bit lost and low on resources, but fortunately they have with them a handful of matches. Unfortunately, it is but a handful.

The other player plays the Deep who seeks to extinguish the light and the Scoundrel with it.

The players play a game of chicken with a book of matches, striking them and narrating as the flame burns ever closer to their flesh. Dropping the match or blowing it out before you’re finished advances your opponent towards their goal. The pace is, predictably, swift and delightfully frantic at moments.

But pacing aside, perhaps the most alluring aspect of this mechanic is the sensuous side of it. From the satisfying feel of strike; to the smokey, slightly sulphurous scent; to the warmth of the fire growing into an alarming heat, the matches are much more than a simple timer.

In just a couple weeks, Winter solstice will be upon us. Before then, I urge you to find a friend and play this game. Learn it well. Then, in the depths of the longest night of the year, play it again in the dark.

A Year of Sword & Sorcery

Over on the Worlds Without Master site, I posted a retrospective on the first year of publishing the ezine.

It’s a lot of numbers, but it gives some idea of where the money’s coming from and where it is going and the barest hint of future plans for the ezine.

The Economics of Interstellar Crime, or How Vast & Starlit’s Pay-What-You-Want Scheme Is Getting Along

It’s been a little over a half a year since Vast & Starlit went Pay-What-You-Want, and I’m curious to see how this endeavor is panning out, aren’t you?

For now, DriveThruRPG and its sister sites are the only places you get your hands on the PDF. The other avenues currently available to me do not handle Pay-What-You-Want too terribly well. In a moment, I’ll talk about how this is less than optimal, but let’s look at the numbers we have, first.

I started offering the Vast & Starlit library as Pay-What-You-Want on the 26th of December, 2013. As of this post then there have been 455 downloads, 141 of which folks paid for. In fact, people have paid a total of $410.35 for the game. If you don’t count the free downloads, that means folks have paid, on average $2.91 a game. If you do count the free downloads (which would be nonsense, but we have the numbers, so why not?) folks have paid on average 90 cents a game. Most folks who paid (31 of the 141) paid $3. The most anyone paid for the game was $10.


Oh, look at that, a chart! I’m not going to have any insightful analysis to offer here, but I should be able to make up for that in charts.

Read More

An Official Worlds Without Master Website

Worlds-Without-Master-AdWhen you’re looking for your sword and sorcery fix, you have no further to look than

It’s got it all . . .

And between now and the full moon, if you use the coupon code “WizardsEyrie” you’ll get 25% off all those back issues you’ve missed. Then visit Patreon and join the Patron Horde so you don’t miss another.

Worlds Without Master Issue 4, Now With Cover Art!

Thanks to the might of the Patron Horde and talents of accomplished artist Rachel Kahn, I am very pleased to present the first ever issue of Worlds Without Master to feature full-color cover art!

Issue four of Worlds Without Master includes:

  • “Two Swords of Mars,” a tale of swashbuckling upon the red planet, by Rose Bailey.
  • “The Prize of Banteteth,” another Snorri & Manyara tale by Epidiah Ravachol.
  • Illustrations by Gary McCluskey and Jon Taylor.
  • More “Oh, the Beating Drum!” from Bryant Paul Johnson.
  • “See New Places, Meet Interesting People & Visit Retribution Upon Them,” a supplement to Enter the Avenger (found in issue 1) by Rafu.
  • And the aforementioned full-color cover art by Rachel Kahn.

If you’re not already a part of the Patron Horde (and you should be), you can pick up your copy at DriveThruFiction or DriveThruRPG.

Or you can purchase it direct from me at the Worlds Without Master website.

It’s Tricky

Patron Horde member Jon Cole has whipped up a nice little reference sheet of all the tricks in Swords Without Master.

It now joins the Rogue Sheets, the Lore Phase & Thread, and Ritual of the Neophyte in the growing library of Swords Without Master material.

Swords Without Master was published in the third issue of Worlds Without Master:

You can purchase a PDF of this issue from me for $3.99.

Or you can purchase it at DriveThruRPG.

Welcoming New Wolves to the Pack


Thanks to Stras Acimovic for the photos and the impetus!

At the behest of a member of the Patron Horde, I have put together some handy cards to help spread the word should you find yourself playing Wolfspell or Swords Without Master with someone who has never played before.

You can find the whole set here as individual cards, sheets designed for use with scissors and sheets for those of us wielding paper cutters.

Some disassembly required.

The Swords Without Master card comes with its own ritual: The Ritual of the Neophyte–Give the card to someone playing Swords Without Master for the first time and you may celebrate by changing the Overtone to Jovial.

IMG_20140410_012406The Wolfspell card also has a rules modification: The Way of Fang & Claw–Give the card to someone playing Wolfspell for the first time to turn a Blood result they just rolled into a Wolf result of the same value.

Feel free to print, share and use these however you wish. They are slightly classier than getting a QR code of tattooed across your back and then insisting people take pictures of it with their phones. I have been told that that is not acceptable and that if I don’t put my shirt back on, I’ll get kicked out of the pub.

Torn from the Ethereal Pages of Worlds Without Master

Worlds Without MasterAs of now, all my own personal fiction that appears in Worlds Without Master, is also available as free PDFs. None of the art, games, comics or articles. And none of the fiction from the other authors. Just my own fiction.

You can get the first three stories here:

If you enjoy these stories, I highly recommend you purchase the back issues.

And join the Patron Horde, so that you can experience them in their natural habitat, surrounded by glorious art, comics, games and more fiction.

Wherein Demands Are Made & Answered

As you may or may not have heard, Swords Without Master was released earlier this week in the latest issue of Worlds Without Master. (If you haven’t picked up a copy for your very own, you can do that here.) Since then, there has been a few requests for ancillary material. Because there is no material quite as exquisite as ancillary material, I had no choice but to oblige.

Rogue Sheets

Behold! A sheet for each one of the Swords Without Master primary character classes, including all the necessary progression tables.

The Lore Phase & Thread

The Lore Phase was intentionally written entirely on one page so that resourceful players could print it out and always have a copy of it on hand should a lore question strike them at an inopportune time. In fact, examples of each tone were put in the summary, just for those moments when you could only find neophytes for Lore Players.

Desktop Backgrounds

The Patron Horde is damn close to reaching its color cover art funding goal. The days of our ever faithful skull & sword are numbered! These desktop backgrounds are provided in an anticipatory memorial.

Classic Cover

Winter Cover

Vernal Cover

The Sage, the Rover & the Roasted Bean

Photo courtesy of Renato Ramonda.

Photo courtesy of Renato Ramonda.

Speaking of funding goals, a few months back the ranks of the Patron Horde made it possible for me to purchase a cup of coffee and an official Worlds Without Master coffee mug was born in the resulting celebratory fire.

You can purchase this handsome mug for your very own coffee break over at Society6.