A Swedish English-language podcast interviews me about my long career as a designer of role-playing games. I explain how I reason when I create rules and settings. Lots about Tolkien’s Middle-earth and Traveller.
Traditionally, late December is a time for summarizing the past year and taking a look at what the next year might entail. Here in my blog I focus on my writing endeavors — what’s been accomplished in 2018 and what I hope work with in 2019.
2018: My Accomplishments
- Partisan, the Great Surprise: In March, somebody found the sole remaining printout of the legendary and never-published Swedish RPG Partisan and gave it to me. It deals with foreign occupation of our country, presented in the four settings Brown (Nazi Germany), Red (Cold War Soviet), Blue (Cold War with an authoritarian United States), and Ultraviolet (nefarious aliens from space). Serendipity: everybody had thought that the game was lost forever, but here is my incomplete manuscript from when the game was shelved thirty years ago. The printout nowadays rests securely in a safe. Link (Swedish) >>>
- During the autumn, I launched my Patreon page, where you can sponsor my writing role-playing games (RPGs) and get various goodies, such as the extant three Partisan settings Red, Blue, and Ultraviolet; and Thriller, my unpublished RPG manuscript from 1983 (espionage and sleuthing in the vein of the original Mission Impossible TV series). Link (English) >>>
- In October, Helmgast published Sorgeveden, my campaign setting for Krister Sundelin’s fantasy RPG Hjältarnas Tid. The book depicts an immense forest, stretching from spruces and birches in the subarctic north to jungles in the tropics. Link (Swedish) >>>
- In November, I delivered Märk hur vår skugga, an introductory adventure to the new edition of Chock, a Swedish horror RPG that will be published by Eloso in 2019. Link (Swedish) >>>
- In December, I launched my product page on DriveThruRPG. So far, it is a trial version, but I intend to use it to sell English PDFs of Traveller settings and other “stuff”. Link (English) >>>
- In December, my adult daughter Elin, aka the Tiger, joined forces with me as Team Fox. She is currently a student at an art & design school and she will illustrate some products that will get published at DriveThruRPG. Link (English) >>>
- In December, I published Dust & The Road, a paperback with two dieselpunk shortstories that are partially based on my experiences of serving in Afghanistan ten years ago. The stories introduce my setting Patchwork World, a fragmented steampunk & dieselpunk world. Link (English) >>>
Q4 2018 was obviously a hectic time. When I look at the list above, I feel contented with what I achieved.
2019: My intentions
- Since 2014, I have planned to make a revised version of the vintage Swedish postapocalyptic RPG Wastelands, but I quickly encountered various snags and obstacles. When Tove & Anders Gillbring a few years later decided to produce Freeway Warrior as an RPG, we agreed that I would turn Wastelands into a Swedish setting for the game. My vision is best summarized as “Lars Molin meets Mad Max”. Tove’s cancer has repeatedly delayed the project, but I hope we can get it moving during 2019.
- The hush-hush job: I have made a deal with an publisher about a major RPG project. A non-disclosure agreement prevents me from mentioning details until the publisher has announced the venture. But I am already working on it, and the production team has had fruitful brainstorming sessions on Skype. My deadline is late 2019. Yeah, I feel good about this project.
- Dusk and Dawn is a standalone steampunk novella taking place in Patchwork World, though far from the locations of “Dusk” and “The Road”. I have written the first half of the story and and I hope to complete it in 2019. Link (English) >>>
- I have outlined a Traveller universe with distinctive qualities, grimmer than the one Marc Miller developed. It’s there to be written when I get time for it. It will sooner or later get published via DriveThruRPG. What rules? Well, probably one set of Cepheus Light and one set of BRP.
- I have outlined a dieselpunk RPG, working name Iron Empires, that takes places in an alternate timeline. The game will get at least two Terrestrial and one Martian setting. It is too early to go into details, but you’ll get updates in my blog when I have something substantial to tell. My plan is to publish Iron Empires via DriveThroughRPG, using a variant of the Cepheus Engine rules.
I don’t expect to complete all these projects during 2019, but if I get sunny weather with the wind in my back, and there is plenty of coffee in my thermos flask of holding, I might walk a part of my road. However, an ancient word of wisdom cautions us: Man supposes, God disposes.
Recently, I checked what’s available at DriveThruRPG.com; after all, it appears to be the biggest supplier of RPG texts as downloadable PDFs. I made a serendipitous discovery: the site has a sizeable PDF library for Traveller, the game that made me a professional game designer (read about my long-lasting relation to Traveller here — link >>> ).
Also, I saw that there are good opportunities for publishing one’s own Traveller-related material there by using the open content license OGL. Really nice, particularly since I like the new Cepheus Engine rules (with a few house tweaks of course). So I have decided that when, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, I can start writing game stuff full-time, I will return to the many universes of Traveller and start publishing my new settings at DriveThruRPG.com. I already have a few ideas in my mind.
“Anders Blixt is a machine that turns coffee into role-playing games.”
This summer I have started working on a Patreon page. My intention is to create an interesting library with English and Swedish gaming articles (plus occasional fiction, and non-fiction) for my supporters’ enjoyment. I have accumulated a lot of unpublished “stuff” over my 35+ years as a professional game designer and writer, and I have ideas for plenty more. My three children are now adults or almost-adults, so I have more time for sitting at my laptop and turn coffee-fueled dreams into texts. And these days, there are publishing tools available that would have been science-fiction-ish at the time of the publication of my first paid article in 1980: “The Werewolf Disease” in Journal of Travellers’ Aid Society #5 .
I have no idea how many months it will take for me to put together an attractive collection, because many old texts exist only on paper and need to be scanned and processed. And I have no wish to launch my Patreon place too early and thereby make my supporters disappointed.
Therefore, my advice is: stay tuned to this blog.
Summary in English: We commemorate that 30 years ago, we published the Swedish edition of the Star Wars RPG from West End Games.
Podden Nostalgi & Nördkultur högtidlighåller att Äventyrsspels utgåva av rollspelet Star Wars från West End Games (läs mer om det spelet i den här bloggposten från 2011 — länk >>> ) lanserades på Spelkongress 88 för 30 år sedan. I det här inslaget berättar jag lite grann om varför vi valde att satsa på just det spelet.
I played a role-playing game for the first time in May 1977 at the first Gothcon (Swedish post about that event — link >>> ), Sweden’s premier game convention. Little did I know … etc.
Purple prose aside, it was a momentous experience but I did not realize that it redirected the course of my life: that day, I discovered a fountain of suspense and of never-ending joyful creativity. My first game was Dungeons & Dragons, the off-white box with three nigh incomprehensible rulebooks. I quickly acquired my own set plus a copy of Jim Ward’s science fiction RPG Metamorphosis Alpha (adventures in the lost starship Warden with mutants and monsters). After all, I preferred SF to fantasy.
In that autumn, I made my first attempt to design an RPG. The rules were based on Dungeons & Dragons and the setting was an SF cosmos inspired by Edmond Hamilton’s Star Wolves novels. And no, the nameless game was a dud. I ran it once and then consigned it to oblivion. In 1978 I instead discovered Traveller, and immediately started creating house rules. (Read more about that here — link>>> )
Forty years have passed and I am still an RPG designer in my spare time, even though these days I prefer to create setting while using already well-established rule engines. But the creative enthusiasm is still there. Jim Ward and Marc Miller opened the gates to Never-Never-Land for me and I rushed past them, and in there I still reside.
Nowadays I am the grizzled veteran, who gets interviewed by young gamers who want to hear what it was like in that legendary First Age of RPGs, but rest assured: I intend to go on writing games and novels as long as I keep my wits about me. My father was a vital chap until he turned 86, so hopefully I will follow in his footsteps and have another 20+ years of creative work ahead.
However, man proposes and God disposes.
Roswell, New Mexico, 1947: one of those legends that ought to be true. Click on the picture for a larger version.
I could probably use this picture to create a campaign setting for the Swedish RPG Sci-Fi! (link >>>) — if I just had more spare time on my hands.
Here are some notes on a Roswell-themed Traveller hack — link >>>