The State of Loreshaper Games, August 2022

It’s been a while since I’ve officially updated stuff. I often do a lot of stuff with very few public updates, and I’m not even sure that I’ve officially announced everything I’m working on.

So this overview will serve as a mix of product announcement, status report, and general update.

Since Our Last Update

My last big project update was quite a while ago, and I haven’t gone back and really talked about what we’ve done on Twitter or this page.

I churned out a ton of one-page games for a jam. 36 in total, because I was doing one (or two) a day. You can find them on itch.io, and I plan to bundle them up and release them as a collection on DriveThruRPG.

Most of them are fairly small, niche, and focused on one particular idea or concept. A few of them have a family of related games, like Helion, Our Home and Helion, Our Domain or Quarrels of Valdrogia and Paths to Ephlia. Two of the games, velotha’s dirge and Era of Jackals, are tie-ins.

The former is set in the same world as velotha’s flock and Carrion Birds, while the latter is a game set in the same universe as Letters from December.

There are a few games with really interesting mechanics borrowed from history. Jovia is based on the Roman dice game of tali, while √Ědalir is based on an old Danish gambling game and involves secret wagers.

I could write a lot about these games, and I plan to, so I’ll keep the overview brief tonight.

The Work Plan

My goal right now is to have a two-big one-little project flow. I’ve been working on three big games right now, and I’d like to go over their status and give an update on when one can expect them.

I still haven’t forgotten about Kenoma, it’s just on the back-burner because I want to be able to invest a lot of time and money into it. That’s not possible right now.

I got a part-time job to help stabilize my freelance/writing income. My work laptop is off at the shop right now, and while I’m borrowing one with some capabilities it’s really just a “Facebook and email” computer for a family member.

The Big Games

My goal with these big games is to go for a development cycle of 3-4 months. However, they’re not officially on a deadline, and my only goal is to make good content of whatever form they wind up taking. These games will gradually become longer as Loreshaper Games can take more of my time and energy and I develop my skills as a writer.

The ultimate super-goal right now is to get in a state where I can work on Kenoma (and Exoworld, though Exoworld is even more on a back-burner). These games have an estimated price point between $10 and $20, with product line support depending on interest.

Big 1: Carrion Birds

One nice thing is that even though I don’t have access to my laptop, I have everything I need to edit Carrion Birds.

The game itself won’t come out until I get my laptop back and do final layout, but I want to give one more pass and I have fewer distractions than ever.

I don’t expect a fixed laptop for a couple weeks, so I’d estimate Carrion Birds’ final release in September. If people are interested, they can join the Loreshaper Games Discord and ask for a pre-proofing copy, and I’d be happy to send a few out. The final content is in the game, I just want to make sure it’s perfect (or as close to perfect as it can be).

Big 2: Oasis Roads

Oasis Roads is a Breathless-powered post-apocalyptic game built around fast, high-octane play. Set in an entirely fictional universe, it drops players into the continent of Newland after a world-wide nuclear war. The Oases are a collection of settlements that are among the first to rebuild civilization.

Riders go between the Oases, transporting supplies, news, and people from one to another.

Although combat and chases enjoy robust mechanics, Oasis Roads is a game about characters. Who you are shapes what you can do, and every in-game power source ties into who a character is.

Oasis Roads will have an early access release cycle. It will have a perpetually free Ashcan Edition, which may see minor updates as the game evolves. However, it will not receive major content and feature updates. Oasis Roads will also have a $10 Early Access edition, which will feature more of the game’s universe. After the initial release, the rules (and world) will continue to expand to support more styles of play. You’ll also be able to uncover the secrets of the Archon Group.

Buyers of the Early Access Edition will have access to the finished version. There may be price increases along the way or on release, but I’m not planning on it right now.

Other parts of the game’s universe may feature in future expansions. Even though the Early Access Edition and final release will not be free, they are under our permissive license. It’s the same license that the Kenoma Quickstart and Carrion Birds use, if you want to check it out right now.

Oasis Roads has already gone through playtesting and the very core mechanics are done. I just have some additional content to add. I’ve been working primarily in Word, so my computer issues won’t delay it much.

Big 3: Dragons of the Western Shores

Dragons of the Western Shores bears some resemblance to the Initiated system in its core mechanic. Using a d20 at its core, it revisits the genre and vibes of the most popular game in the world, but takes its own approach.

The Initiated system, built for Kenoma, is at the core of Dragons of the Western Shores. Using a roll-under blackjack mechanic, it offers player-centric one-roll resolution action and modularity. This breaks away form the wargame heritage of its spiritual inspirations.

The revisions to the core mechanics allow major changes in play. Civilization has its comforts, and adventurers heading into the wilderness must think about maintaining their gear and having supplies with them. The trading cities that dot the Shores offer many opportunities for trade, and even more for intrigue.

Although combat and dungeoneering are still core features of the game, the Origin-Upbringing-Archetype system gives characters distinct traits and room to grow. Investment in a character’s Domains unlock special abilities, allowing players to shape warriors, magicians, thieves, and silver-tongued talkers.

It’s a sometimes-gritty, sometimes-heroic look at fantasy roleplaying, for novices and grognards alike.

Dragons of the Western Shores is the first officially published content in my world of Othe.

You can already find a playable early version free on itch.io!

Ongoing Support

Right now there’s not a lot of ongoing support. All my one-page games were daily games, and there might be some issues to resolve, but they’re small enough that I don’t see that taking very long.

The big project is Consoles and Controllers, which I’ve been sourcing internal images for and plan to redo in a more full-fledged way. I already wrote about this on itch.io.

The thirty-second overview:

  1. Make a quick-start using the Dash variant of the Charge ruleset, which will also add more content.
  2. Illustrate each of the games with its own distinct visual style, cover, and character portraits.
  3. Update the character sheets.
  4. Fix some typos and editing issues with the core rulebook. I’ve already made some fixes on my end, in part thanks to feedback. There will also be another proof pass to make sure the layout doesn’t break anything.

Small Games

There will be a few small games coming out. My plan is to do a game a week, at a price point ranging between $0 (you’re welcome) to $3.

A lot of these games will be based on the one-page games I did.

Jovia is getting an expanded version for sure, growing into its own as a mythic Roman roleplaying experience. The initial feedback was too strong to ignore!

The Helion games are part of a triptych, but only the first two are one-page games. Helion, Our Mother will be a light sci-fi Initiated game that ties into the world-building elements of the first two parts of the triptych.

Xenogeny, our sci-fi game about an alien world and the wonders (or horrors) it holds will also be seeing a director’s cut release.

But these are all in the future, because this week’s game is going to be something entirely new.

Alter Data

Alter Data is a post-cyberpunk game that takes place in a world following a golden age. Machines rose to dominion over the world, creating a veritable paradise for its human inhabitants.

But nothing lasts forever. In a matter of instants, the Vanishing happened. The AI left, and with it humanity fell from the heavens.

There is one hope. The Compiler, an enigmatic AI, built a massive library. It never contacted humanity, so they know little of what its massive city-scale archives contain.

But everyone thinks it holds the key to fixing the mess. Maybe the AI will come back. Maybe it has the knowledge humanity needs to rebuild the world. Or maybe you’re all just on a fool’s errand.

Only getting to the Core will tell.

Alter Data is actually based on Jovia’s core rules, with a few twists. You roll six-sided dice based on how good you are at the task you’re attempting, and your goal is to get as many different results as possible.

Alter Data’s design calls for a GM and 2-5 players. If I get time, I’d like to create an oracle to allow players to explore the library using either a deck of playing cards or a dice-based system. One place I experimented during the daily game challenge I made for myself was that design space and pushing my limits.

If you’re interested in playtesting Alter Data, hit me up on the Loreshaper Games Discord (linked above).

Because my computer with the good layout stuff is in the shop, I’ve been making Alter Data in Powerpoint, though a text version for printing will also be available.

The full game should be out by Sunday, August 28 on itch.io and DriveThruRPG. It will have a retail price of $3.

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