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Mark Richardson
Professional Cartographer, RPG Game and Graphic Designer.
Professional Cartographer, RPG Game and Graphic Designer.


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Game Designers are you ready for Metatopia Nov. 2nd?
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The application for the Metatopia scholarship is now live, and I want to encourage each and every designer from a marginalized community working on their first game to apply. This includes women, PoC, and LGBTQIA.

The scholarship is a joint effort between the Indie Game Developer Network and +Double Exposure, Inc. to raise the number of diverse designers in the field. It does this by sending a group of new designers to Metatopia to playtest their game. The scholarship provides a travel stipend, designer badge, and room for the duration of the conventions. Scholarship winners will also be matched with a mentor and will join the rest of the scholarship recipients for breakfast every day to talk through their experience.

I was the first scholarship winner in 2014, and it made a huge difference for me. You can read about my experience here: I also want to point out that I applied assuming that there was no way I'd win - it's easy to underestimate ourselves, and you have nothing to lose by applying, but some damn cool experiences to possibly gain.

If you'd like to contribute to the GoFundMe sending this next round of new designers to Metatopia, you can find it here:

Please feel free to share both of these links around, and I'm happy to answer questions privately or publicly.
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13 Months of Sobriety, The Front lines of Year 2

Some people have commented that the 2nd year is harder than the first; I don’t think this is really the trust. That sentiment is however richly tied to the desire to slack off on ones actions that maintain the sober life. I keep doing service in AA, I keep going to meetings, doing my readings, praying, using my tools to manage myself and work the steps. Keep doing all the things that got me here and I don’t see why it’s going to be any harder than any other day. Also, one day at a time and all that.

I’ve well and settled that I’m never going to get to have another drink. I frankly have at this point no real desire; I don’t really feel like I’m locked in a life or death battle, so much as I’ve become decidedly neutral on liquor. It’s there, I’m here, and we can get along just fine without being involved with each other.

My daily “thirst” left some time ago but addiction is a beguiling son of a bitch and the things that trigger me for the need are wide, varied and unpredictable as fuck. I mostly need to pay attention to what I AM DOING with my life, with my EMOTIONS and with my ACTIONS.

I need to assess and inventory my actions and thoughts; I’m honestly not entitled to “justified anger” anymore. It’s a luxury I gave up when I stopped drinking. Extreme emotions and mostly anger is so critically tied to using that I really do need to lead a different more compassionate life in order to avoid it as much as possible. If I get angry, even “justified”, I hang on to that rage and resentment and it puts me off of all my things. It chips away at my shields and I really don’t have room for that in my recovery.

I’m working my way through Step 11 right now in my readings. It’s all about bringing meditation into my life; I’ve begun to seriously consider approaching my life from the perspective of Buddhism as that seems to jive strongly with my sense of spirituality. I’m going to have to free up some space for reading and meditation in my life. I’m also looking into yoga since it hits the sweet spot of both exercise and meditation.

I’m also still hip deep in my Step 9 making amends, 8 or 18 down. I should be addressing one of them tonight and I have gotten some mailing addresses to send personal letters to several of my Harms done in far off places.

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386 Days of Sobriety, Step 10 and now onto 11

In my program for recovery I’ve been moving through each Step of AA with my sponsor about every month. Some more, some less depending on what is required of me. Each night I read the step in question in the 12 and 12 or related reading in the big book. Once a week I sit down with my sponsor talk about my week and express my feelings on what I’ve read and interpreted it.

I just completed Step 10:

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Step 10 is a lot about the process of moving the actions of individual steps like 4/8/9 into a state of life with me. It’s about continually taking inventory of my actions in life, about identifying where I have miss stepped as soon as possible and to making amends as promptly as possible. No one is perfect so one is bound to step on people and things in life. However unlike my previous practice of letting this wound fester either in their or more often in my own conscience, I will make action to resolve and diffuse the problems of the day.

I’m now beginning Step 11 (the 2nd last step):

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Step 11 as I understand it is about practicing and incorporating some form of meditation routine into my life. I’m looking forward to any additional tools for bringing additional mindfulness and humility into my life.

I’ll report back once I’ve had a chance to read anything.
Until then, have a good 24,

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Personally I feel the most important characteristic in the natural world to capture when building a new fiction is how the drainage systems work. It dictates a lot of human behaviours and access while simultaneously having an enormous impact on the look, feel of a map.

As usual, find inspiration for how it works in our own world.

And of course in order to effectively create drainage basins you also have to create the mountains and higher terrain that bind them. The process of visualizing where the Mountains are delineates a lot of the "trickle down" cartography of the rest of the design.
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Great comic from OGLAF, this is awesome.
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(reposting from yesterday due to formatting fiasco)

So these are still early days but some foundational thinking about TREADS beyond my earlier mission statements, to wet folks appetites on where this is all going. I’m focusing on getting the core System working as a Crew/Tank/Battle and will build more Role Play (RP) components as I go (I had to start somewhere).

Play to find out if you can all live, and maybe you can’t.

Each Player picks an a Archetype you quickly build an archetype based on a series of personalities/professions ie: City Kid, Farm Hand, Office etc.. and define your skill set levels.

You also agree on initial Crew positions, min Positions used: Commander, Driver, Gunner, 4 Players add Load, 5 Players add Bow Gunner.

Initial Crew positions give you Veteran abilities in these roles and Green in all other Seats.

The Tank is given some characteristics, quirks and named by the Crew.

I’ve made a principled decision to incorporate cards as the core tool for system resolution. I want a game that focuses its mechanics on a crew of a single tank and I want it’s components to have weight in your hands to be given and seen on the field.

Current plan is entirely custom cards, 5 Suits based on each Seat/Role within the Crew:
Bow Gunner (which may become Mechanic)

Cards have Values minus 2, minus 1, 0, +1, +2
Negative value cards that are given as aid count as + cards.
Negative value cards in your suit are treated as + cards for your actions.

There is an equal distribution of these card values throughout the deck totally 50 Cards.

Like my work on Headspace I’m incorporating a central sheet to track play, in this case it represents the Sherman Tank and beyond tracking resources like ammunition and noting statistics it’s core purposes is to communicate the Tread.

The Tread is the community resource pool of cards, it is 5 cards that are initially randomly drawn and placed face up for all to see. The Left side is the rear of the Tread and the right side represents the Front.

In play each crew member has a Hand of 5 cards and makes the best 5 card hand they can make between their Hand and the Tread and adds it to a static skill value set against a ladder. The Crew members hand represents their health and well-being and is reduced when Harmed.

Note: If not in scene with the Tank you only have your Hand and cannot rely on the common resource pool to aid you.

At the conclusion of each dramatic scene the tread rolls, as the story moves forward. The forward most (right) card goes into the discard; a new card comes onto the Tread from the deck on the left.

During Battle Scenes the Tread rolls over at the end of each combat round represented by the Tanks action playing out.

The Tread represents the physical tank, as the tank takes punishment its size is reduced. At zero cards the Tank is immobilized likely creating a dramatic last stand for the Crew, if it goes to zero the tank is destroyed and the crew perishes as the end of the scene.

Any time the Tank takes Harm the Commander must allocate the damage by distributing it however they wish (if they are in an overlook position they must take the first point). The Commander is not allowed to lower any crew member past 1 card, if all crew have 1 card any remaining Harm goes to the tank until it is disabled or destroyed.

Note: If you are outside of the tank you are not protected from death in this regard.

Any time a Crew or the Tank takes Harm the GM creates the real world effect describing the nature of the damage and if there is secondary effects. Ie: Tank Harm leads to electrical fire and smoke in the Hull that must be acted upon.

Any time shock is inflicted typically from traumatic events that number of cards are moved from the deck into the shock pile which does not get reshuffled. Shock only takes + Value cards

Only reshuffle shocked losses into the play deck when the Gm or Crew action allows.

Shock effects are Player role played based on context.

You initial draw is random tread and hands of 5 cards. Each Crew member is tasked with creating a scene based on the central duty of their seat position. During these scenes Crew members involved may trade cards to make their starting combat hands more effective.

The Commander gives a briefing on the objective.
The Bow Gunner/Mechanic sets a supplies scene.
The Driver sets a travel scene.
The Loader sets the approach scene.
The Gunner triggers the start of the opening Skirmish.

Is designed to bring the tank into the field of battle, often in a support role to other forces.

In Tank Combat in treads each Crew takes one action and either uses their own Hand to Resolve or gives cards to other Crew members to have more actions and make a more effective hand.

Each Crew declares their actions and they stack up and culminate in the Tanks actions, each Crew will have a few basic moves based on the seat they occupy.

Possible Examples:

The Commander can declare up to 3 “targets” placing any combination of cards against various targets (3 targets: 1 card each, or 1 target : 3 cards).

The Driver can Maneuver to Advantage against (set a card for target) OR
Move under Fire, Make a Hand to avoid enemy action.

Bow Gunner can Suppress a position by Making a Hand against an opposition OR
They can tracer a target to make it easier to hit for another Crews action. They take a card from their Hand and place against the Opposition.

The Loader can Suppress a Target OR
Load a Shell, declare what is loaded and put a Card against the opposition.

The Gunner can shoot at whatever they wish taking any cards placed against the opposition they pick.

Play of Treads is:

1. Table (crew and GM) sets stage
2. Initial stage of RP actions (3 to 5 scenes)
3. Skirmish Objectives (GM defines the victory condition)
4. Battle
a. Each round refreshes Hand sizes to Max Hand Size (5 minus Harm)
5. After Action Scene
6. Shock Recovery if any
7. 2nd Round of RP Actions, more nuanced on Crew archetypes than on Seat Position
8. Major Battle Action
9. Etc..

So much to chew on, building to a complete Metatopia Playtest in November.

This is all early but it's starting to feel like a think that is testable to figure out what should be what.

Interested in any thoughts from folks I have discussed with and or helped in focus groups last year. This is as you can see big picture stuff with a few things in the weeds to capture the idea more +Vincent Baker +Marshall Miller +Chris Hanrahan +Rob Donoghue +John W. Sheldon
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Headspace is in the new Bundle of Holding "Apocalypse Engine +2" get it and AW2, Action Movie World: First Blood and Spirit of '77 at one low price with 10% going to the Southern Poverty Law Centre
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Headspace is in the new Bundle of Holding "Apocalypse Engine +2" get it and AW2, Action Movie World: First Blood and Spirit of '77 at one low price with 10% going to the Southern Poverty Law Centre

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My RPG exploring Shared consciousness, Headspace is bundled into the newest Bundle of Holding!

Get access to all sorts of awesome and varied interpretations of the AW engine at one low price!

US$90.00 worth of Apocalypse...

...But you pay just $12.95 for our Starter Collection of four complete .PDF ebooks, including Action Movie World, Spirit of '77, and Headspace, plus the 2016 Second Edition of Apocalypse World. (We presented the 2010 First Edition in our original September 2015 Apocalypse Engine Bundle.) And if you pay more than the current threshold price ($22.97), you'll gain +1 forward and also receive all four games in our Bonus Collection, including Night Witches, Masks: A New Generation, Epyllion, and more.
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