Category Archives: events

Zines and Shirts!

On Sunday, September 1st I’m going to have a table at SF Zine Fest, a small zine event held at the County Fair Building at Golden Gate Park. If you’re into that kind of thing, come check it out! It’s a pretty neat event, and I recommend checking it out (or whatever zine events there might be in your neck of the woods) if you get a chance regardless of whether I’m there.

New Stuff

I was able to finish a total of four new zines in time for SFZF. I’ll be making them available through Etsy and itch.io not too long after.

  • Things I’ve Seen Contracting at Tech Companies: No shocking revelations or anything, but a collection of weird events and imagery I’ve witnessed while working contract jobs at Silicon Valley tech companies.
  • aromantic: I don’t usually talk about it a lot, but I’m aromantic (meaning I don’t experience romantic attraction), and I decided to write a short zine about what that means to me.
  • Kagegami High Student Handbook: An excerpt from Kagegami High that you can use to introduce people to the setting or just read for the fun of it I guess.
  • My Grandpa’s Poems: My grandfather, Robert W. Cluney, was an appliance repairman, and in retirement he did a lot of painting and a fair amount of writing. I put together a small collection of some of my favorite poems of his.

Old Stuff

I’m also bringing all of my previous zines, plus a few other things!

  • Kagegami High
  • The Dungeon Zone
  • Magical Fury
  • Five-Card Fictions
  • Melancholy Kaiju
  • All That Glitters is Palladium
  • Small Company Big Mess
  • Ewen’s Tables Zine
  • Bizarre & Adventure
  • “Losses”
  • Cats I Have Known
  • Choose Your Own Homura
  • Conservapedia is Extremely Weird

T-Shirts

I also randomly got inspired to start making T-shirt designs to put up on sale at Threadless. I’m calling my shop there the “Yaruki Zero Games Merch Store,” but it’s kind of a mixture of stuff related to my games and attempts at weird humor.

America’s Next Top Reality Show

I made another thing. Let’s back up a little. I’ve been working on a humor book called I Want to be an Awesome Robot,[1] and I decided to include an section with Fun Activities, which will (for the most part) fully functional activity book type stuff, if with kind of a weird sensibility.[2] I’m also working on a mini Choose Your Own Adventure type thing, a super stripped down Maid RPG variant (“Schoolgirl RPG”), and some other things that get a bit geekier and more involved than just coloring pages and stuff (though there will be those too). One thing I came up with but may or may not put into the book is a mini Channel A type spinoff game, intended to have a deck of a more reasonable size and play a bit quicker. A while ago NPR had an article on “The 25 Magic Words Of American Television.” When it first came out I sent the link to some friends, and one immediately declared that he’d watch a show called “Mob Pets.” Putting together a small list of title cards was a very easy thing to do.

I’m not sure what I’ll actually do with the game from here–if it works out well as a game I could totally see doing it in the form of a full card game in a reasonably sized tuck box–but for now I’m tossing out a free PNP version for the heck of it. This is very much like the ones I’ve done for Channel A and Studio B, with the little 2″x2″ cards you can print on cardstock and cut out. You’ll also need two six-sided dice.

America’s Next Top Reality Show PNP Version PDF

Here are some titles I made by messing around with the cards for a bit:

Mob Apprentice, Fear Shack, Hell’s Zookeeper, Star Swap, Amish Hot Rod, Bachelor Dynasty, The American Factor, Who Wants To Be A Cat?, So You Think You Can Catch, Sex House, Dance Kitchen, Pimp My Duck, Extreme Cake, The Deadliest Family, Party Boss, Millionaire Pets, The Doctor Whisperer, The Big Monster Project, Hell’s Hot Rod, The Amish Hunter, Love Chef, Superhero Makeover, Bachelor Island

On other Channel A type news, I recently visited my sister and brother-in-law in Washington DC, and got my new fancy prototype of Studio B (the American B-movie reskin of Channel A). We got to play a good amount of both games, and did very successful demo games at Labyrinth Games & Puzzles, an excellent game store near Capitol Hill.


[1]I already decided that the sequel is going to be called “Most of My Friends Are Potential Supervillains.” You know who you are.
[2]The answer to the crossword clue “Like a crossword without balls” is “WORDFIND.”

Gamma World Game Day

Having just come back from the official Gamma World Game Day event at the FLGS (Game Kastle in Santa Clara), I decided to blog a bit about it, since the game is pretty intriguing to me.

The new Gamma World uses a simplified and far more random version of the D&D4e rules, and it definitely lived up to GW’s reputation for zaniness. You could tell the designers made a conscious decision to update it, so for a new edition of a game first published in 1978 it feels pretty timely, to the point where it’ll probably look dated ten years from now. (And someone at WotC is definitely a Valve fan.) The box frankly looks a good deal bigger than it needed to be, since the rulebook is a mere 160 pages in a half-size format (just like Essentials). It only goes up to level 10 though, and it drops a lot of the fiddly rules and details (so for example the skills section is something like 3 pages).

Character creation is quick and random. You get two character types by rolling a d20 twice on a chart–I got Giant and Plant–which give you an encounter power each and certain other bonuses (and in the case of Plant, vulnerable 5 fire). Although it’s based on 4e, it drops the use of roles, and characters don’t have all many powers to juggle. You designate one type as primary and the other secondary, and when the time comes to determine attributes you get 18 in the one tied to the primary, 16 in the one tied to the secondary, and 3d6 in the rest (20 if they overlap). The dice were rather unforgiving to my character, so I wound up with 8s and 9s in everything but STR and CON. For all intents and purposes there’s only one “class,” which in D&D terms is average in everything (HP is CON+12, +5/level), and you add your level to things instead of half-level. Also, the character sheet is nicely designed and guides the player through the character creation process pretty well. There’s also a fan-made web-based character generator for it.

One thing I do like about Gamma World is how readily the game lets you reskin pretty much everything into whatever you want. With a Giant Plant I decided my character was Rob the Angry Flower (apologies to Stephen Notley), a giant mutant daisy that ran around smashing things with an old refrigerator (which in game terms was simply a Large Two-Handed Melee Weapon). It wasn’t quite on the level of Mike Mearls having a Seismic Giant be a 12-foot-tall baby, but Rob was fun to play all the same.

As much stupid nerdrage as the optional booster packs have caused, the Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech decks are one of the most fun parts of the game. Both essentially give you new encounter powers, and you get a different mutation for every encounter (and any time you roll a 1 on a d20), and if today’s adventure was any indication the game is pretty generous about letting you uncover new Omega Tech items. In the case of mutations you can also attempt to “overcharge” them. This makes them more powerful on a roll of 10+, but messes you up in some way on a roll of 9 or less. My favorite is the one that boosts your intelligence, but on a low roll you’re Stunned by the stupidity of those around you, though you can also sprout tentacles that might strangle you on a bad roll. While I don’t think the booster packs deserve a tenth of the vitriol they’ve evoked online, I can say with confidence that they’re every bit as optional as I thought, and the game should hum along nicely without them.

It’s hard to say how much was the game itself and how much was the way the module was designed, but it was pretty brutal, and 4 out of 6 PCs died by the end. A big part of this was the relative scarcity of healing compared to D&D proper though. There might be some character types that have healing as a matter of course, but in the party we rolled up healing was pretty much only available when a mutation or tech card happened to provide it, meaning it was woefully lacking at times even with the game’s beefed up version of Second Wind (which restores half your HP with a Minor Action). I am reminded a lot of my gaming group’s first foray into D&D4e, where the lack of a proper leader character was hurting us in a big way at every turn. With the one session Gamma World I probably made more death saves than in the entirety of two years or so of playing D&D.

The game uses cardstock tokens to represent PCs and monsters alike, and given that I’ve very seldom played with miniatures that exactly represent what’s going in the game, I didn’t miss a beat in that respect. The fold-out maps that came with the Game Day module were very much on-par with the stuff that WotC has done elsewhere, though it’s neat to see that stuff applied to relatively contemporary locations, even as we were fighting mutant pigs and cockroaches in them.

I wasn’t at all expecting Gamma World to be a game for long-term play or anything, and my first impression is that it is decidedly in the realm of beer and pretzels gaming. It’s not something you’d want to run a long campaign of (Penny Arcade’s opinion on the matter notwithstanding), but it’s pretty much the perfect game to pull out when your D&D4e group can’t do the regular campaign for whatever reason.

Maid RPG Update: GenCon Indy 2008


I am so out of it right now, and very relieved that I’m done with conventions for the summer. ^_^;

This year’s GenCon was the launch of Maid RPG. We shared a booth with Khepera Publishing and Aetherial Forge, so the booth’s main offerings were Hellas, Ninja Burger, and Maid RPG. Three very different games, but all of them are awesome. Also, Jerry Grayson is a really awesome guy, and hanging out with him, Andy, Renee, Mike, and everyone else at the booth helped make the con for me.

Selling Maid RPG was one of the more amusing things I’ve done in a while. People would walk by the booth, eye it, and as soon as they started to comprehend what they were looking at, they would either be drawn closer like a magnet, or be repulsed like one. The word of mouth and internet buzz apparently paid off, because as this small press/indie stuff goes, it sold like hotcakes. We had a grand total of 70 copies to sell, and they were gone by the end of Saturday. I wish we could’ve had more, but we’ll hopefully have the online orders up and running soon enough, and Andy didn’t have to carry any home.

I ran two scheduled Maid RPG events. One was a purely random game where the Master turned out to be the son of Satan (Special Qualities: Demon, Evil Emperor, Family Hate, in a Post-Apocalyptic world). It was a very random game that sort of hilariously shambled along. Then on Saturday I went to run the Maidenrangers scenario I had so diligently prepared for, and found that I was running it for a familiar bunch of guys from Kentucky who proved that perverting the situation in Maid RPG does not require any random events if you’re determined enough. It was seriously amazing. And one of the tape-recorded everything. Be afraid.

Another cool thing about this project is just that I got to meet a bunch of RPG designers and other people big in the hobby. Several indie game designers stopped by the booth, as well as a good number of podcasters and whatnot. I lost count of how many people came by with Adept Press exhibitor badges (i.e., people who were part of the IPR booth), and I was routinely bumping into people whose names I know from online and from indie games. I also got to chat a little bit with Christopher Clark of Inner City Games, and when I went by the Arc Dream Publishing booth for a copy of Wild Talents they congratulated me on the game and were going on about how jazzed they were about it.

All in all, I’m extremely happy about how things turned out for us at the con. Admittedly I now need to stay home and curl up into a ball for a day or two, but it was easily the best convention experience I’ve had this summer, and for that matter in quite a while. Our friends from Kentucky want me to come again next year, but I really have no goddamn clue where my life will be at next year. If Maid RPG 120% or an English version of Yuuyake Koyake, or something else of mine comes to fruition I could well wind up feeling obligated to do that, but who knows. Andy will definitely be there with Tenra Bansho Zero and Maid RPG for sale, and if my finances permit that’d be enough of an excuse to come to help out.

Up Next For Maid RPG
As happy as I am to have Maid RPG out into the world, I’ve already spotted a few errors. We’ll have to put together an errata file in the very near future, and try to fix as much as possible in time for the next printing. We did as much as we could, but we also wound up giving ourselves tight deadlines for GenCon. If you have a copy and you catch something, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We’re kind of new to this whole “being an RPG publisher” thing, so I have to ask for you patience. The next one will be better.

There’s also the matter of doing the layouts and PDFs for the remaining scenarios that didn’t get into the book, and getting the full website up and running. I don’t know when that’s all going to happen, but it’s definitely on the to-do list.

I’ll be poking at my own original material too, and I intend to give all of it a decent amount of playtesting. However for the time being life is hectic, and I have no idea when I’ll really be able to commit the time needed to it.

One thing I am definitely going to do in the near future is put together a packet of all the stuff for my expanded version of the Maidenrangers scenario, complete with pregens, character sheets, etc. If the scenario sounds neat to you, I’d suggest waiting until I get this stuff ready, since I have a few important additions based on having two runs through it under my belt now.

I didn’t take that many pictures, but here’s what I did get. Mike (the Ninja Burger Mike) took some pictures of things I missed, including this unbelievably cute girl wearing bunny ears and holding a copy of Maid.

Non-Maid RPG stuff after the cut.
Continue reading Maid RPG Update: GenCon Indy 2008

GenCon Indy 2008: Almost Here

Why does GenCon have to be so soon? I’m barely recovered from Comic-Con. (GenCon is big, but I’m grateful that it’s not nearly as unwieldy and ginormous as Comic-Con). Anyway.

Preparations
Yeah. I’m flying out to Indianapolis on Wednesday (anyone know a good way to kill four hours at the Atlanta airport?), which means I have to finish up the rest of my prep for the con over the next two days. That mainly means printing up a bunch of reference sheets and character sheets for Maid RPG, which’ll probably take me a few hours just to put together.

Because I Said I Would
Here’s the first draft of my rules for creating “stewards” in Maid RPG. Stewards are basically male versions of maids (whereas butlers in Maid RPG are uber-powerful but have to be calm and collected at all times), so you can make characters like Hayate.

Where To Buy Maid RPG (And Two Other Kickass Games)
This will be my first time coming to GenCon as a booth monkey, which should be an interesting experience. We’ll be sharing a booth with both Hellas and Ninja Burger. Those are three very different games, but also very awesome ones. It’s mainly the Hellas booth, so you’ll find it under Khepera Publishing, booth #2630, which according to the exhibit hall map is one of the booths between the art show and the Wizards of the Coast boothstravaganza, and across from Closeoutcards.com.

If you’re at the con, come by and say hi! /^_^\

Happy Little Bonus
I will be bringing along my fan translation of Yuuyake Koyake in the hopes of getting a game together at some point, but I have an overly full schedule for the con, and the game only supports groups of 2-4, so we’ll see how it goes.

Addendum
I hate being short of cash for a con like this. *sigh*

Maid RPG: Update 7


(Updated the update on 7/10)

A short update this time. Things are basically moving smoothly. Kamiya-sensei and his friends were kind enough to offer some feedback on the English translation, which will hopefully help compensate for my inadequacies. Kamiya-sensei has also written an afterword/designer’s notes thing in the form of a conversation between him and E.B. II (the android maid with purple hair from the cover).

Maid RPG at Anime Expo
Although I wound up showing up about half an hour late, I ran a lively session of Maid RPG at Anime Expo on Saturday. I was too tired from life in general to plan out a scenario, so I just did a random event driven thing, though it was the first such game where the players didn’t spam the 1D6 Favor = Random Event button. At one point some Japanese people passed through the tabletop gaming room, saw the little sign that said メイドRPG and commented in Japanese that it looked like something perverted, but rushed off before I could comment back in Japanese. (Andy contends I should’ve told her it was perverted). It was satisfying in a way that the players would occasionally answer cell phone calls with “Dude! I’m playing Maid RPG! It’s awesome! My character is a cyborg fox spirit!”

See the comments for a sketch of the PCs that one of the players commissioned from Persona!

Website
We have a placeholder up for the Maid RPG website, but we’re hoping to have the full thing up and running in the next couple of weeks.

Maidenrangers of Love and Justice
I ran “Maidenrangers of Love and Justice” the other day, which I’m also going to be running in a scheduled game at GenCon (already full in case you’re wondering). It has this neat board game element where you set up a grid of 16 playing cards, which also represent random events. I was lucky that the generic pawns I ordered from Great Hall Games arrived about 2 hours before we started playing. My only complaint about the scenario is that because the PCs are searching rooms for items, and in some cases they’re rolling up to 5 times on the item table, it got exceedingly cumbersome at times, and I was getting a sore throat just from reading off item descriptions. I decided to make a set of item cards for myself. First I tried gluing printouts of the items to index cards, and the result is just plain massive and labor intensive. I then got micro-perforated printable business cards and just printed them out. The result was much better and altogether more managable, but it’s still a deck of 214 cards, with no coating whatsoever, so they’re awfully hard to shuffle. I’d like to be able to provide something like that to people, but (1) printing cards is expensive, especially for an accessory for a game we’re selling on a relatively small scale, and (2) making a PDF of the cards complicates matters a bit, since that’s about 20 pages of copyrighted material. (Of course, owners of the book, or the PDF, would still be able to make their own if they’re so inclined).

If I can swing it, I’m going to have paper miniatures and pregens and such for when I run it at GenCon (since playing with random characters resulted in having some PCs be at odds with the scenario’s goals), and some kind of tokens to mark when someone has searched a room (since only one search is allowed per room).

For this scenario the order in which PCs act becomes important, especially when you have 4+ characters. I think I’m going to implement some kind of initiative rule.

Original Stuff
I keep poking at what I’m tentatively calling “Maid RPG 120%”, which would be a collection of original material for Maid RPG. The “120%” indicates excessive completeness, since in its Japanese incarnation it was a 32-page game with 200 pages of supplementary material, and here I am trying to add more stuff.

  • I’m turning two of my original characters (Kurumi and Kitty) into maids so that I can write Kamiya-esque dialogues to demonstrate the new rules and such.
  • Rules for playing “stewards,” basically butlers, but with a power level more in line with maids. I have a draft of the rules finished, though apart from the Steward Types I sidestepped making any new random tables in favor of using ones from the rules for making butlers or maids.
  • Another costume table, and another item table. I have the costume table all planned out, and I have a little over half the number of item ideas needed to make a new D666 item table.
  • New worlds — Gothic (good for castles, vampires, zombies, etc.), Superheroes, and Bizarro (looks Contemporary, but stuff is truly weird and random under the surface). Combined with the ones from the core rules, this would let you roll a d12 for the World. Also, two new moods: Melodrama (for overblown soap opera stuff) and Intrigue (for conspiracies, assassination attempts, etc.).
  • I have way too many ideas for scenarios. So much so that I’m putting together a table of 36 scenario seeds so I can include some of the ideas that are very by-the-numbers to set up and run (like the one where the Master buys android replacements for each maid, and they have to prove they’re better). There are still some scenarios I want to do full-length writeups for, including multiple prequels to Liberty: The Final Maid Maiden. I also want to put together some scenarios that make good use of the optional rules both from the Japanese version and that I’m working on.
  • I’m planning to try my hand at putting together at least one replay.

If this ever does come to fruition I want to be able to take submissions from fans (who may well produce better material than me), though if it turns into an actual book it will then take actual money to produce, and we’ll have to limit the quantity of material to a reasonable amount.

Maid RPG: Update 2

Progress Report
At this point I have eight scenarios left to translate, and after that the project is pretty much in other people’s hands until GenCon. Ideally I need to get this done within two weeks or so, which means there’s something of a silver lining to the fact that my hours are becoming spotty to nonexistent for me crappy day job. After going through enough text to fill a largish novel, I’ll be entirely too glad to be done with this project.

That’s partly because it means I’ll have time to work on my own RPG projects, and partly because I’m looking forward to actually being able to play Maid RPG again, and enjoy all this material I’ve translated. I’m already picking out some scenarios and such to run with my friends. For that matter, every time I’m stuck away from my computer, I keep thinking up more and more original material for the game. I’m not sure I want to go to the point of actually putting together a book though. It’s possible, but it’s a long way off too.

Butler RPG
Anyway. There was a thread about Maid RPG on 4chan’s /tg/ board (if you don’t know what that is, you should probably stay away). There seem to be a fair number of people who are into butlers (and hey, they do have a few butler cafes in Japan), so I might as well tell you about the butler rules. Butlers are an optional character type, and as group of PCs can only have one butler. The butler has much higher attributes, but (1) automatically loses opposed rolls against the Master or maids, (2) must spend Favor to remove Stress, and (3) cannot spend Favor on Random Events. The “Maids at the End of the World” replay features a butler character, and demonstrates how although the rules theoretically limit how much they can cause chaos and such, they can still be part of the total wackiness of the game.

Seduction (Or, How To Cause Trouble)
The first supplement of the Japanese version is called “Koi Suru Maid RPG” (Maid RPG In Love). The Seduction rules are one of the main reasons it’s called that. These let characters make rolls to emotionally dominate others. If you seduce someone you can give them orders, but they can gain Favor and remove Stress through romantic activities with you. And that doesn’t prevent them from seducing you back. Calling “Seduction” was kind of a compromise. The Japanese word used is closer to “enticement,” but where it’s heavily used in some scenarios it can be bent into forming an emotional attachment in general. Based on the replays, it’s the kind of thing that would make some people uncomfortable, but it can also make life a heck of a lot more interesting.

Demo Games
I’m running two registered Maid RPG events at GenCon Indy 2008, one on Thursday (which still has 3 slots open!) and one on Saturday (all full). I and a couple of my friends who will be coming plan on running some more sessions at Games On Demand (something you should check out anyway if you’re attending). I’m also in the process of signing up to run a session at Anime Expo 2008, and if there’s interest I’ll be running a session or two at FanimeCon‘s open gaming area. If you’re attending any of those, let me know if you want to play. :3

(Also, my friend Mike is planning to run it at KublaCon).