• Random Movie Quote

    Sy: California? You can’t write comedy in California! It’s not depressing enough!

    — My Favorite Year (1982)

Game Design Diary: The Innovation Paradox

Innovation isn't being the same as everyone elseThere has been a thought that I have been fighting with lately. Instead of coming up with an original gaming system, why don’t I simply use one of the many systems that have an open license? That way, I can skip the work in creating the system. I might also attract fans of that system into my camp. It’s a very tempting thought: Adaption instead of Innovation.

Why would I consider this after making so much noise over the years about innovation in game design? Simply because it’s easier to move with the herd.

The Same Thing, Only Different

Have you ever wondered why Hollywood very rarely makes anything new? Their movies are usually continuations of franchises, reboots of old hits, or adaptations from other media. The reason for this lack of innovation is simply that they want a return on the money invested. Making familiar movies is a safe way to insure there is an audience to see them.

It works the same way in the gaming industry. Why are there so many games where the main activity is fighting monsters in a Tolkienesqe setting? Why do so many of them use dice? Because that is what the first roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons did. Now it is the standard for all other roleplaying games. To wander away from that standard is to risk failure. Even D&D’s 4th Edition, with all the changes it made to the rules, failed because it was too different from what it’s audience expected.

Still don’t believe me? Then check out the protests that go up every time a fresh version of the Star Wars or Star Trek franchise comes out. Just look at the ugliness that arose because they introduced a female Doctor Who.

The Paradox

So, to succeed in my game design, the smart move is to make a game that uses one of the popular roleplaying systems. All I need to do is add a bit of new content to make it appear fresh. It would be so easy.

It would also be wrong. Why should I go to the trouble of making a halfhearted try at writing a game? My job is to deliver a unique and powerful experience to the players. I’ve seen it before. I know it can happen. It’s just not going to be easy.


Game Design Diary: Finally Off the Merry-Go-Round?

Merry-Go-RoundI have decided to call the path I have been on the Merry-Go-Round. Originally, I had envisioned Dream System using a diceless mechanic that used a token auction to resolve conflicts. I hit a snag, and switched over to one that used six-sided dice. I decided to use cards when I wasn’t happy with the dice mechanics. Then I came up with yet another mechanic that used polyhedral dice. It didn’t meet my original goals for the game. By then I had worked out some of the original problems with the Token Auction. When that line of design collapsed, I worked out a better way for the card mechanic to work…

Round and Round she goes. Continue reading

Reptilians and the People that Love Them

reptiliansDo you love Reptilians? In case you haven’t heard, I have started a Patreon account to help fund our work. I have some exciting plans in mind for your gaming entertainment. You can count on enhancing your experience by joining me on Patreon for regular updates on Sock & Buskin’s projects.

Okay, I Thought This Was About Reptilians?

Follow me through the design processes in the Patreon Designer Diary. There, you can find a record of my half-baked ideas, periods of Analysis Paralysis, and how I (hopefully) solve my own problems.

The latest entry involves my latest favorite conspiracy — The Reptilians! This has more Crazy than you can shake a snake at! I’m really looking forward to writing more about them for London by Moonlight.

Is That It? More Reptilians, Please!

Patrons that go for Rook Level access will also get to download PDFs of the Dream System RPG one week before it goes public. I’ve just uploaded the First Alpha of the Conflicts section of the game, and the Third Alpha of Character Generation will be following it later this week. The game is currently in an untested state, so feedback is going to be very helpful. I definitely want to make the game so it entertains the people that are going to play it.

Sorry, that’s all the Reptilians for now. I will be writing more about them soon! I promise!

Cold Open

london by moonlight slider 04

Excerpt from the first adventure for the modern fantasy setting London by Moonlight.

It’s late evening when the young man comes home to his family’s dingy apartment. He gives a little sigh as he opens and closes the door, glad that he can get finally get little relaxation. As he looks up from locking the door behind him, his eyes meet a  scene from out of a nightmare.

Odd symbols and splashes of blood cover walls of the apartment. His mother, father and little sister are bound and gagged, like animals prepared for slaughter. The women are quietly sobbing through their gags. His father’s rage was impotent.

Someone in a Halloween mask placed a knife to his throat.

“Welcome home Billy,” said the man holding the knife to his throat, “We’ve saved a seat for you.”

Two other intruders popped up from behind the chairs with the shout of “Surprise!” Joyfully, they grasped him by his arms and maneuvered him into an easy chair. He knew he should fight this. He knew that if they managed to bind him, he’d be dead. But there was a numbness that fell over him, and he could not find the strength to fight. He meekly allowed them to tie him into that chair.

Once Billy had been secured, the man the had held the knife says, “It’s time to bring out Mother. She’ll want to bathe in this directly.”
The two other intruders scurried into the kitchen and returned carrying an odd case. It looked like it once held an old sewing machine, but had breathing holes cut in the sides. They held it with great reverence and cautiously placed it on the coffee table.

One by one, they snap open the fasteners. The top of the case lifts off with the sucking sound of wet mucous. The camera is angled so the audience cannot see what is in the case, but can see the reactions of the family. Each of the victims begin to scream.

Cut to Black. Cue Theme Music.

RPGnet Q&A Chat is Over!

The Q&A RPGnet Chat is over and I had a Blast! Would you like to see what happened? Here is a link to the chat log. https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/qa-keith-sears-the-feylands/

Chasing Down a Dream

g3173I had to do a lot of thinking about this post. The main reason is that I wanted to make certain that this wasn’t just another Crazy Brain tangent. I’ve been flailing around with the rules for Dream Palace and the Luna System for a long time now. . . too long. While I’ve had some really good ideas and come close to making a complete game, something has been holding me back. So I decided to pull back from both projects and look at them from a distance.

There were elements that worked excellently in both games, but there were also some aspects of both games that simply were not working for me. Then I tried looking past the rules and tried to see what I, as a gamer, was actually after.

I have stated before that I am looking for a game that will keep up with my imagination. I’ve been happiest with freeform roleplaying online. If you say you do something in freeform, Boom! it’s done! The only time you have a conflict is if another player disagrees with what you have played out.

It finally hit me that I have been trying to design for what I think other people will like, and not for myself. I know that sounds foolish, especially since this is a company that makes games for other people to play. However, game design is also an art. If I, the designer, am not making something that I would not want play myself, how can I expect anyone else to want to play it? I want to make something Amazing. Dream Palace and Luna are close to what I want, but they aren’t quite there.

So, I am announcing the creation of the Dream System. I’ll be taking elements of both Dream Palace and Luna and merging them with some new ideas. Wish me luck! Maybe this time I’ll get a game that works At the Speed of Imagination.


Keith Sears to Chat about Feylands

SpriteHiya Folks!

I’ve been invited to chat about the Feylands project on the #rpgnetchat IRC channel, November 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM Central time! You have Questions? I have some Answers!

The calendar for #rpgnetchat

Web interface for #rpgnetchat

More about the moderator, Dan Davenport.

RPGnet is a registered trademark of Skotos Tech, used with their permission


Universalis ColumnThe next alternative roleplaying system is up on the Feylands website! Check out what I have to say about Universalis from Ramshead Publishing!

Also new on Feylands are updates to the Luna System’s Character Creation. Completion is still am ways away, but definitely getting closer to completion to an alpha version of the game.


WaRPOne of the things I’ve wanted to do with the Feylands project is to open it up to roleplaying systems other than Luna. So, I have selected a system that I would highly recommend because it follows my own game design philosophy. The first recommended alternate system is.. . (insert drum roll).. WaRP, by Atlas Games!

I fell in love with WaRP back in 1992 when Atlas had released it as Over the Edge. Character generation was clean and simple, and the setting was weird enough to get my attention. WaRP has been a major inspiration for the Luna System. You can download the WaRP SRD for free from Atlas Games’ website.

The Clock Won

Dream PalaceFor those of you that were anticipating the world’s first taste of the Luna System, I have some bad news. I won’t be able to make the March 14th deadline. Since I made the announcement, I came down with gout one weekend and I’ve been suffering from some kind of lung crud for the last few days. The antibiotics and prednisone are taking care of it, but my urge to design was overwritten by searing pain and the need to breathe. By my estimate, there is no way at this point that I can have the session come together in a way that the players will enjoy.

I am a great believer in snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, however. Instead of an Alpha Playtest of Luna System, I will instead be conducting a Beta Playtest of Dream Palace. The files for the session I had originally planned back in December are almost finished and I believe I have figured out a solution to something about the game that’s been bugging me for a while now.

So, those of you that would like to meet me in Peoria at Just for Fun for a session or maybe two of Dream Palace, consider yourself invited! I haven’t established a time that I will be there, though. Please check back later for additional information.