Friday, October 16, 2015


Last year I talked about a game we are working on called The Meddlers. The manuscript was completed shortly after and because I resumed work on Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate, we put it on the shelf for a while, knowing sometime later this year we would need to focus on the art and getting the thing to layout. Today I spoke with the artist and want to share where the project is and what direction we are going. 

The game is set in a world called Tol-Shenda and I wanted to art to reflect its unusual nature. Every place is a bit different but there are some common elements, for example the world is locked in something of a perpetual twilight. I also didn't want to do art that felt captured the odd mood and tone without looking like RPG art. The images will look a lot more like our cover to Beneath the Banshee Tree than our other games. There will also be a lot more nudity and sensuality in the imagery. 
Prime Minister Audreah
by Cherry Moondust

Here are some of the sketches and images we've been going over and discussing. These won't necessarily be in the rulebook, they are more like steps to the path of where we want to go. Some of them might appear in the final book, but I can't say for sure because we are still hammering out all the images and it depends on what direction things go between then and now. 

I do have two images that will definitely be in the book. They illustrate one of our more unusual cities, Arka. They were done on huge wooden blocks and need to be properly photographed in order to be turned into file images (too big for the scanner). However I was able to get a quick snap shot of the first one (Prime Minister Audreah, appearing to the right). The artist is Cherry Moondust and she has a style that I really think works for this project. You can check out some of her art HERE on Tumblr (she is also on Instagram).

Here is a sample of the first page of the rulebook. This is the pre-edited text so it might change substantially prior to release. 

About Meddlers
This is a roleplaying game about Brownies, little people who help humanity in ways that often go unnoticed. Set in the world of Tol-Shenda, a place of twilight and walled cities, where people exist in a fog and feel vaguely out of place. Something isn’t quite right in Tol-Shenda. Things that should not be, are, and things that ought to be, are not. There is technology in Tol-Shenda, sometimes advanced technology, but the people have forgotten their past and so rather than progress things tend to rust. Humans go about their lives, afraid to venture beyond the cities, unaware they are the center of a cosmic struggle.

Twilight Priestess Concept Art
by Cherry Moondust
The Goddess Naura stands on the side of light, striving to redeem humanity. You are her people, her Brownies, and you are tasked with gently guiding this fallen race to greatness. The god Nages broods in the darkness and contemplates man’s destruction. He has his minions as well and as you grow in power, their efforts to thwart you intensify.

Brownies are small but brave, and have just a touch of magic in their soul that enables them to do extraordinary things. Brownies also come in great variety from heroic Thick-Hides to magical Spell-Singers. They live in the nooks and spaces of human cities, their surnames are often the streets where they were born. They trade in gossip and food and have a love for life that is nearly boundless. But they must follow a strict law: do not interfere with the free-will of man. Those who violate this code risk falling into disfavor with their goddess.

Because of their size the simplest things can be an enormous adventure for Brownies. Sneaking into a home to eavesdrop for some gossip can mean facing a maze of crawlspaces, venomous insects, cruel rats and deadly traps (sadly humanity regards Brownies as pests). Brownies go on countless adventures helping the humans they feel drawn to. They may work to aid a single human over an entire lifetime or move from one person to the next each week.

The core mechanic of The Meddlers is quite simple, you roll a pool of four sided dice* against an opposing pool of four sided dice. Both sides take the single highest result and compare them. If the aggressor meets or exceeds the result of the opposing pool she succeeds. Sometimes this will be rolled against another character’s pool, sometimes the GM will roll a pool to reflect the difficulty of a task when it isn’t against a foe. The Aggressor is always the person taking action, attacking, etc.
Goddess of Arka concept art
by Cherry Moondust

Damage rolls work differently. While Damage Rolls also sometimes involve multiple dice, these are added together.

*For some creatures that are bigger than brownies they will roll larger dice for certain actions.

This option is for people who dislike the short scale of the d4 dice pool. Instead of rolling a pool and taking the single highest result, roll your d4s and add the totals together.

This operates by the rules of the normal Core Mechanic except it adds Strokes of Luck. If you roll more than one 4 on a single d4-based skill roll, you gain the benefit of a Stroke of Luck. When this happens a single D4 “explodes”. Roll a single additional d4 and add it the result of the 4 that you've already achieved. You may continue to re-roll any additional 4s that you roll and add it to the result.

For example, Dan rolls 6d4 and rolls a 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1. Only one 4 was rolled, so the result of the roll is 4. Alexa also rolls 6d4, but is luckier and rolls 4, 4, 3, 3, 2. This is a Stroke of Luck. Alexa rolls an additional d4 and it rolls a 3, bringing her total to 7. Due to the Stroke of Luck, she managed to roll a 7 on a d4 roll. If Alexa had rolled another 4 on the additional d4, she would have continued rolling until the moment that she rolled anything other than a 4, adding the result of the new roll to the running total each time.

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