Worldfall in depth

As promised yesterday, it’s now time to talk about Worldfall – written by Katherine Cross and illustrated by Claudia Cangini and Tithi Luadthong.

At the start of a game of Worldfall, you have just founded a colony on an alien world. The trip has been extensive and transformative, and the first thing you decide is the politics your cabal of colonists formed during the journey.

Maybe they were the Officer Class, in charge then and looking to keep control now? Or the Workers Intergalactic, the labourers keeping the ship – and now the colony – running and finding solidarity with each other?

The Officer Class
The Workers Intergalactic

Or maybe they tended to the culture of the ship, whether they’re the new religion of the Keepers of the Flame or the anarchist upstarts of the Scum of the Universe?

The Keepers of the Flame
The Scum of the Universe

Together, you build your cabals, making choices about the society of the fledgling colony and the world you have landed on. It’s a strange and wonderful land, bursting with life. What will you make of it? To answer that, you make Characters. Each character is the key viewpoint we have from that Cabal at this moment in time. You could go with a match for your Cabal (a Gasoline Fire from the Scum, maybe?) or something that’s orthogonal, like a Priestex from the Officer Class.

The Gasoline Fire
The Priestex

Your character explores the new world, makes deals with other factions, builds grand art projects and battles for the soul of the colony. As they do so, they’ll win or lose your Cabal points of Reputation – a marker for their influence over colony society. You play in this mode until someone completes Worldfall‘s signature Wonder – the Constitutional Convention. Once it’s completed, you all take turns to choose the colony’s negative and positive liberties. What things does it swear to provide its citizenry? What does it forbid? Each choice comes with its own government institution that you now control, as well as effects on the wider colony. Once you’ve divided them up between you, you move the clock forward a generation – and see what your choices have resulted in.

That’s how Worldfall plays: shifting between the challenges of colony development and the struggle to build a more perfect union. As generations pass, will the colony grow and thrive? Or will it shatter and wither? And all the while, maybe the planet is pushing back: learning more about you, sending its own emissaries to interfere, and try to co-opt you into its own ecosystem. Particularly if someone has chosen to play the Worldsoul – the gestalt representation of life on this planet.

So, that’s Worldfall. Please do check it out! And if getting into the mindset of weird, alien life appeals, tune in tomorrow when I tell you about Primal Pathways.

Worlds of Legacy now out – plus Generation Ship in depth.

The Worlds of Legacy are now live! Check them out at our store – I’m very excited by the variety in these books, and the work my authors have put in. In celebration, I thought I’d dive a bit deeper into each of them in turn. First up – Generation Ship by Aaron Griffin and illustrated by Tithi Luadthong.

In Generation Ship, you’re trapped in the bowels of a titanic machine and the machine is freezing to death in the void of space. You aren’t meant to be here. You shouldn’t even exist, as your ancestors were meant to be unfrozen when the ship reached its goal. But still, you live.

So, what do you do? You have a family of fellow passengers, who have carved out ling space in the ship’s guts. Maybe they’ve set up algae tanks to feed the community. Maybe they protect and revere the still-unfrozen. Maybe they’re maintenance bots, jolted out of the programmed-in behaviour.

Your family has goals, friendly factions, enemies and needs. And that’s where your character comes in. They’ll delve into the ship’s tunnels, make threats safe, find the legendary ship systems, and restore – and control – them.

That’s the work of generations. Each generation the society on the ship changes, and you pick a different character type to show a different side of your family. Maybe a wise Advisor, a lethal Soldier, or even the void-empowered Touched.

So you’re telling the story over generations of how society survives and adapts to this hostile environment, and how your family repairs or claims control of one of the ship systems – the bridge, the dropships, navigation, sensors. What happens when you’ve fixed them all? Well, you face a final decision – where do you land, and what flaws are you willing to accept from your new homeland to finally feel the earth under your feet?

Of course, there are more stories you can tell once the ship has landed and the colony as formed – but that’s a different game. Maybe I’ll tell you about Worldfall next.

Coming Soon: Worlds of Legacy

With Legacy out now and physical books on their way, it’s time to talk about what’s next. We’ll be returning to Legacy’s post-apocalyptica soon, but first up we’re doing something new: Worlds of Legacy.

The Worlds of Legacy

Each one is a brand new setting for Legacy by a new author, bringing new playbooks, moves and ideas for your game. They’re slim books but pack a lot of ideas in there. Each of them draws on Legacy’s faction and character gameplay, and lets you tell a story over generations, but the stories you’ll be telling are completely different. I’m currently looking over the final art and texts for all five, and I’m really excited to share them with you!

Primal Pathways


Champions of The Otherworldly, one of the Guardians

First up is Primal Pathways, written by Laurence Phillips and illustrated by Juan Ochoa. Each player controls a species enlightened by an otherworldly Guardian and must guide the growth of their civilisation and the evolution of the creatures, from the dawn of sentient life to the development of cities, nations and more.

Your Guardian might be the Devourer, the Builder, or many more; your character might be an Emissary, a Chosen of their Guardian, or one of four other playbooks.

What I love about this book is the evolution mechanics Laurence put together: the many diverse traits let you create some really weird civilisations (Ambulatory slugs! Parasitic and carnivorous plants! Spiders building cities in a jungle canopy!), while the evolution trees each Guardian provides let you radically change your species as the ages turn while remaining true to its primordial origins.

Generation Ship

The Keepers of the Long Sleep venerate the still-sleeping saviours of humanity.

Next we have Generation Ship, written by Aaron Griffin and illustrated by Tithi Luadthong. Long ago, your ancestors boarded a starship that’d take them to a new colony under a distant star. Frozen in rows hundreds deep, they slumbered through the centuries – until something went wrong. Woken up too early, you must now scavenge and survive within the bowels of a slowly-dying ship.

In this game, your families are organisations within the City that the Awoken have formed in the ship’s tunnels. Your playbook could be The Alliance of Agronomists, bio-engineers keeping the ship fed; The Maintenence Collective, autonomous bots gone far from their original programming; or maybe The Throng of Pleasure, those who tend to the City’s vices. Your character, meanwhile, might be a Diplomat skilled at making the disparate factions work together; a Sleeper, a newly woken remnant of the ship’s original builders; or The Touched, who has made contact with the void outside the ship and has drawn strange power from it.

And as you play, you’ll be working towards your final arrival – seeking out the ship’s key systems, working out how they’ve gone wrong, and claiming them for your Family. Each activated system – from the Astrogation Arrays to the Dropships – gives your family particular advantages so long as they claim them, and brings you all closer to your final arrival at a place you can call home.


The Officer Class

Of course, getting to a new planet is only half of the struggle. When you arrive, what sort of society will you all build?

That question is the heart of Worldfall, written by Katherine Cross and illustrated by Claudia Cangini and Tithi Luadthong. It’s a game of political sci-fi in a new colony, with each player controlling an ideological cabal within the colony’s society. You might be the Officer Class, still clinging to their ship-borne authority in this new society; the Guardians of Eden, attempting to understand and protect the ecosystem of their new home; or the Scum of the Universe, agitators, provocateurs and artists partying on the fringes of society.

The Gasoline Fire

Worldfall is a game of reputation and favours. As your character deals with the colony’s problems – the Hero of the People winning fairer wages for the workers, the Gasoline Fire burning the midnight oil to create age-defining artworks, the Flag pushing back over-aggressive wildlife – your cabal will accumulate political capital they can use to get what they need. Defining all that is your Constitutional Convention – a brand-new Wonder that sets out the freedoms your colony enshrines in law and responsibilities it enforces. As you play the constitution mutates and changes, to match your colony’s expansion.


Jess Taylor’s amazing cover!

Let’s depart from the shores of sci-fi, and head to a mythic land. A land where gods bicker in their heavens. Where their avatars face down armies single-handed, and where the end of days is fast approaching.

In Godsend, written by Khelren and illustrated by Jess Taylor and Tithi Luadthong, you’ll come together to tell a story of faith and despair in a mythic age. You’ll make your divinity – maybe a domineering god of Knowledge who’s the head of the Pantheon, or a conniving Trickster deity who everyone keeps at arm’s length. Then you’ll make an avatar – for another player’s god. Maybe you’re an Angel, sent by them on a mission? A Pandora, mother of monsters? Or a Prometheus, who has stolen power from their god and must somehow deal with their wrath?

Avatars carry out their god’s will.

Godsend is bringing a lot of interesting things to the table. First, you’ll have a built-in relationship with two other players: you’ll be the god of one, and the avatar of another. Second, it’s entirely diceless: as rulers of fate, it’s fitting that you’re unconstrained by random chance. Instead, your stats determine how many good things happen when you use your divine abilities – and how many calamities you avoid. Finally, you will fill your map with grand civilisations to lay low, armies to challenge, monsters that can rampage – escalating in scale and drama as the apocalypse approaches.

Rhapsody of Blood

The Holy Church stand firm against the darkness.

Every generation the blood moon rises, and the castle exalts a villain with its dark gifts. They shall command its legions, use its powers to twist reality, and seek the godlike power of the unholy grail.

In Rhapsody of Blood, written by me (James Iles) and illustrated by Adrian Stone, you are the ones here to stop them. Your bloodlines have fought the castle since its first emergence, and that legacy has granted you endless tenacity, strange powers, or unbreakable faith. Together, you will root out the wards of the castle where they have infested the mundane world, slay the acolytes of the castle’s regent, steal their dark power for your own and banish the regent and the castle with them.

But the castle is immortal, and the blood moon will rise again. As generations rise and fall, what tales of heroic action and gothic bloodshed will you tell?

The castle’s Regent sends their minions out to blight the land.

Look out for more details in the coming weeks as we get closer to these game’s release!

AprilTTRPGMaker: a month of interesting questions!

In the run-up to April, Kira Magrann (one of our authors for Legacy: End Game!) posted the image above – 30 questions for RPG designers to provoke thoughts and get us talking about our design process. I posted my answers on my twitter and G+ pages over the month; now that the month is over, I’m compiling the answers here. Enjoy!

1. Who are you?

Hello! I’m James, a research scientist in my late 20s living in Oxford, UK. I’ve been designing RPGs for just over 10 years now, starting with the 40-person, term-long parlour larps my uni society put on and branching out into pen and paper rpgs about 5 years ago with Legacy: Life Among the Ruins. Since then, under the UFO Press banner, I’ve released a few storytelling card games, a monthly stream of micro-RPGs on Patreon, and the Game Chef finalist Weave.
I try to draw inspiration from a wide range of sources: my training in disease ecology and evolution, a lifelong passion for reading sci-fi and fantasy, interesting mechanics from video games and board games, and so on. I’m helped in this by my wife Liz, my co-designer on most of my games (though she disdains social media). Our son Jasper is less helpful, but to be fair he’s only just got the hang of walking!

2. Where ya at?

I’m based in Oxford, UK – it’s my university town, and I’ve been living here for more than 10 years now. The University RPG group – – was hugely influential in getting me to where I am today. Before coming to Uni, I’d never played a tabletop RPG; within a year of joining, I’d played a dozen different games and had started running my own larp with a group of five friends. Its wiki is still up at – I was behind the magic system and project system, which are embarrassingly clunky and over-engineered now I look back at them! One big thing they do I haven’t seen anywhere else is the Society Game – a new freeform larp system written every year, often by people who haven’t written one before but drawing on the society’s expertise, that’ll run for 1-3 terms. In structure, I guess it’s closest to Mind’s Eye Theatre, with weekly meetings and wiki-submitted downtimes between them, but in my time there they’ve covered generation ships, superhero politics, post-apocalyptic rebuilding, steampunk victoriana, a Stargate/Norse Ragnarok mashup, and more, each with its own bespoke system. I’m particularly fond of Education ( and Reunion (, my homages to Harry Potter and Lost/The Lost Room respectively.

But really the biggest thing the society did for me was present an incredibly welcome, inclusive and challenging environment that helped me really get over my conservative evangelical upbringing, embrace my own sexuality, and forge lifelong friendships and relationships. In addition, the culture of constant design, improvement and improvisation really helped me find my design feet. I don’t attend society events much these days – too many excitable teenagers to really be comfortable there! – but I’m always happy to see them doing well and trying new things.

3. Why did you start making games?

Pretty much the same reason I started GMing – it was the only way I’d get to experience the games I wanted to experience.

As I discussed yesterday, I got my start writing systems for freeform LARPs. There was something in writing magic systems for them that really called to me – thematic, punchy abilities that expressed the setting and game characters a clear sense of their abilities in a way that numerically-rated skills didn’t. Looking back, there’s a lot of the groundwork for my PbtA design work there.

My first tabletop design work was probably making custom player options – charms for Exalted, legacies in Mage, a few Dungeon World playbooks, that sort of thing. It was a PbtA design contest in September 2013 that gave me the impetus to make something standalone and original, and within a month Legacy v1 was complete. The £20 gift certificate I got for coming second in that bought me some drivethrurpg stock art, and the rest is history…

4. Describe Your Work

I try to make games that take you to new worlds. Unique worlds, really – I don’t enjoy writing setting material, so I try to give each game strong worldbuilding tools so that each group has a bespoke world to play in that they have a strong personal attachment to.
I want to provide experiences that are, let’s say, under-served in the TTRPG space. Games about rebuilding and community, games about identity and personhood, games about high society and farce. Games that are welcoming and inclusive, not just by displaying the whole range of humanity in the art but in making it possible to tell stories that have nothing to do with the use of violence and the accumulation of power.
Plus, well, I like games that make the players feel cool and creative. If someone can walk away feeling that they were responsible for something awesome that happened, that’s perfect for me.

5. Favourite game you’ve worked on?

If I had to limit it to specifically Tabletop games (aka no LARPs), it’d probably be Weave. In my experience, it never fails to tell interesting stories, and gets across its message really nicely. Plus I’m very proud of the layout I did for it – it’s nothing complex, but it really helps drive the embroidery/tailoring theme.

6. Favourite Game Mechanic

Eeesh, this one’s tough. From my own work, the one that gives me most consistent joy is the way family creation and world creation are weaved together in Legacy, so that your group’s character gen decisions shape the world in an almost subconscious way.
As for best game mechanic anywhere, it has to be AW’s moves. They’re such a clear, potent way of making your game evoke the themes you wanted. It was a revelation to see that can just write ‘when [genre-appropriate thing] happens, it has [genre-appropriate result]’ as your system.

7. Your Workspace

Mostly? In a cafe, or on the train to or from work. 3 hours commuting each way leaves a lot of time for writing!

8. Your routine

Kinda chaotic? As I described above, my most intensive design work is done on the train. When I’ve got something particularly lighting a fire in my brain, I’ll also write in the evening watching TV, in the weekends, late at night, etc

9. Your Process

An idea has several stages in its life cycle:
1) Paper: scraps jotted down in a notebook.
2) Notes: small text files on my phone or in Scrivener.
3) Layout: fleshed out with graphics etc
4) Playtesting: seeing if it all works!
[GOTO 3]

10. Best game to relax with

When I’m just looking to unwind, I like something fulfilling and repetitive – at the moment, that’s Into the Breach. When running games, my comfort food is games I can run with zero prep – Psi*Run is perfect.

11. What’s yer brand?

I’m sure many people are feeling discomfort at this question, but it’s worth considering. I think I try to seem socially-conscious, self-effacing and enthusiastic about the stories my games can help people tell, no idea how well I do! 😅

12. How do you get your work out there?

1) Drafts go out on my Patreon
2) Small games are released on the Patreon for free.
3) Big games get funding and buzz from Kickstarter and are then sold on DriveThruRPG or at my website:
I try to make my games as an ongoing conversation – here, on twitter, and on the UFO Press discord ( I feel like the sooner you have a game-shaped thing you can put in front of people, the quicker you’ll be able to see the heart of the fun, so I aim for rapid, playable prototyping.

13. Your Influences!

@GregStolze ‘s Unknown Armies was my gateway drug away from D&D – specifically, Jailbreak. Play it! Following that, @Burning_Luke‘s Burning Wheel was eye-opening. That lead me to @lumpleygames‘ thoughtful RPG theories, and then @dreamaskew showed me beautiful ways to put it all into practice My day-to-day design’s inspired by a whole mess of things, but those 4 are foundational.

14. What are your dreams and plans?

My dream is to become a world-renowned and famous RPG designer. As that isn’t really a vocation that exists, I’ll settle for being able to make RPGs as my full time job. Plan to get there? Keep putting in the work, and try to improve as I go.

15. Do you design in public or in private?

Definitely public! I send drafts out and talk about my ideas from the first point that something’s playable to basically just before sending a book to press. I’ve tried to cultivate a good group of people to discuss design with on my patreon and discord, and their feedback has made my games a lot better than they would be otherwise.

16. Any design partners?

I have two main ones – +Elizabeth Iles, my partner in everything, who’s an invaluable sounding board and has a really great eye for genre emulation, and +Douglas Santana, whose tireless energy and hustle has been a real propulsive force keeping Legacy (and UFO Press in general) moving forwards.

17. Favourite form of feedback?

Playtest reports! Saying ‘we did this, this worked great, this didn’t’ is really valuable. The best is AP of my games, though that can be incredibly painful to listen to when you can just hear the game going awry because you worded a rule poorly!

18. Current Inspiration?

Probably Persona 5, but given I’m about to start a deep dive into Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer that is almost certainly going to change.

19. Game most essential to your design?

Not going to beat around the bush – it’s Apocalypse World, of course. Next!

20. Favourite design tools?

Let’s see… anydice for checking dice mechanics, InDesign for writing/layout, an A5 Lechturmm notebook for taking notes, Scrivener or Ulysses for compiling and organising these notes.

21. How many playtests?

I’ll playtest as much as I feel a system has emergent properties or complex rules. The thing with fiction-first rules writing is that there’s little that can go wrong in the old sense of numbers not adding up, but there’s still the question of whether it’s fun. So everything you’re going to charge money for, you should play at least a couple of times. If you’re charging a lot for it, or it’s more than a few thousand words long, you should also try to get someone else to run it too.

22. How do you document ideas?

As above – a sturdy notebook in my bag, iAWriter on my phone, Ulysses and Scrivener on my iPad/laptop, not to mention blogs, G+ and discord.

23. People who’ve helped you?

The SomethingAwful Tabletop Games forum was where I cut my teeth on tabletop games design, and has consistently had my back on crowdfunding. The folks at Oxford Uni RPGSoc have been supportive and mind-expanding. I’ve been really thankful to +Jason D’Angelo for his insights in PbtA tech, +Lowell Francis for running Legacy way back when and getting me interested in The Gauntlet, +Brie Sheldon for giving me space to talk about games on their site, and +Douglas Santana for giving me the drive to keep working on and perfecting Legacy. There’s many more!

24. Most notable achievement?

Mercantile – getting Legacy 1 to Platinum on DriveThruRPG and raising >£90k in crowdfunding for Legacy 2.
Design – getting to the finals of Game Chef 2017.
Personal – being a father to a lovely, inquisitive and kind 18-month old.

25. Being a TTRPG designer means?

Always looking at whatever piece of media you’re into at the moment and wondering ‘is this a story I can bring to people’s tables?’

26. Blogs, streams, podcasts?

Mainly non-RPG, but Shut Up and Sit Down is great for all 3. For RPG AP, there’s the Gauntlet of course – Pocket Sized Play and We Hunt the Keepers are amazing. I’m also a regular listener to Friends at the Table and The Adventure Zone. For blogs, I enjoy,, and

27. Feature an RPG designer.

At the moment I’m really enjoying the designs of +Erika Chappell – she has a really cool perspective on combining high-crunch play and PbtA, combined with that sort of deep interest with plane mechanics that draws you in so that you can’t help but share in the fascination even if you know nothing about the subject!

28. Favourite Interview?

Probably the one I did with +Richard Rogers on +1 Forward: I’m really proud of the love letter I made for it, and we really got to the heart of what I loved about designing Legacy.

29. Your community.

I have a few! First up, my real-life community of Oxford roleplayers – +Elizabeth Iles, +Peter Morgan, +Ellie Williams, +James Grover, +Chris Longhurst and more. Really, absolutely foundational to getting me started in RPGs. Then I have SomethingAwful’s Traditional Games subforum. The rest of the site is, well, awful, but the community there – +Paul Ettin, +Jacob Randolph, +Erika Chappell and more – are really insightful, entertaining and devoted to the history and craft of RPGs. Then there’s G+. Thanks to the circle-sharing efforts of +Sage LaTorra in the early days I got plugged into a wide-ranging network of RPGers, and made connections I’ve maintained to this day. Finally, there’s the Gauntlet. I first got turned onto them when they posted AP of Legacy, and the things they liked (and didn’t like) about it spurred me to make 2e. Now that I’m a paid-up Patreon supporter with access to their Slack, it’s a hub of great conversation about games, far more Actual Play than I could ever consume, and a truthfully caring and welcoming arena. I’m very thankful to all these communities for the support they’ve provided!

30. Top Tips and Advice

Here’s what’s at the top of my brain: Nobody ever runs a game as written. The game documents are a tool, a way of preparing and inspiring a group so that the story they tell is entertaining and in line with what you as a designer wanted to happen. But this means that you must write your game expecting it to be refracted, distorted, emulated by each individual play group. And it also means that every choice a GM makes, every decision a player makes, is them drifting your game, making their own little design decisions, and telling the story they want to tell. You don’t own the stories they tell, no more than a parent owns their children.

War among the Ruins

Legacy 2e has been out for over 10 days, and is still in the #1 Bestseller spot on DriveThruRPG! If you want to soak in more of it ambience, we’ve also put up an Art Book and a collection of wasteland-themed audio tracks

One thing people new to Apocalypse World-derived games trip up on is how quickly you can resolve a situation – Fiercely Assault, for example, lets you finish a fight in a single roll. Douglas Mota, co-author of Legacy, is here to talk about how you can expand these scenes out while still bringing in plenty of drama.

Into Battle

Do you think that a battle should be more than a single roll? Well, we do too.
Sure, Fiercely Assault alone can seal the deal of a fight or a battle. But sometimes, it is all too much hang on a single roll and you may want more depth and detail. With that in mind, let’s go to our “Cutthroat’s pro tips for Legacy battles”.

Scout Ahead

Do you know their defences and positioning? A great moment to roll Under Orders as you send in Companions to get the lay of the land. Attacking blindly is a sure way face well-entrenched forces, usually spread in clusters and covering angles in order to put you in a hot killzone. My players usually learn rather quickly that the those who survived the Fall and the harsh world it created had to be (or become) wary and ruthless fighters.

Measure Numbers

Do your opponents have the numbers advantage? If so, your weapons need the Area tag to attack effectively, or the Brutal tag to demoralize them and perhaps open them to surrender or retreat. Alternatively, you can manoeuvre to split them into more manageable numbers for a Fiercely Assault. In this case…

Ambush Them

Are you properly placed to attack? Unlikely! The best case scenario is if you are laying in wait for them to walk in your ambush – in this case, several Character Moves can enhance your attack. If you are approaching them, you can either rush in, triggering Forge a Path, or sneak in and use Defuse as you deal with their sentries and defences.

Use Vehicles

Can you count on the cavalry? Vehicles are instrumental in maneuvering and reaching best tactical position safely. Besides, even base gear Vehicles help in soaking up damage. However, no other investment will increase your odds in battle as pumping Mighty/Swift, Durable, Med Bay, Transport and/or Turrets in a Vehicle when Tooling Up.

Lock them down

Do you need to pin them in place to manoeuvre? Strafing and overwatch became popular concepts in modern warfare, and a Defuse with Steel should convince enemy forces to stop their advances and hunker down. Beware, though, if they move in with greater numbers!

BIg enough guns

Is your ordnance adequate for the mission? Melee weapons should only go against Ranged weapons after a stealth approach or a rushed charge, triggering Forge a Path. Remember that the Aberrant tag is there for a reason, and you might find foes who won’t just die with a well-placed bullet. On the other hand, sometimes all you need is exactly ONE very well placed strike! Never underestimate the Elegant and/or Far tags.

Armoured Up

Is your gear adequate for the mission? Sure, Tough armour tag saves lives, but it should be your last line of defence. Consider that Comms, Mobile and Camo tags can enable you to bypass conflict altogether. Also, as every force who ever tried to invade Russia can tell you, sometimes your enemies’ attacks are the least of your worries. Andinn the wake of the Fall it’s safe to expect battlefields to be a deadly collection of environmental extremes, pathogens, radiation and more. Again, it is fundamental to know your theater of operations before going in… and not everyone might be ready to do battle there, regardless of martial prowess.

The Best Playbook

Is your skill set adequate for the mission? Besides the holy trinity of war (Hunter, Sentinel, and Untamed), your Machine and the Survivor Characters don’t stay far behind… they are just not as obviously potent as those three. In any case, keep in mind that EVERY character has at least a couple of moves that can save the day or turn the tide of a battle. If you hadn’t pick them you have no place in a battle – duck, cover and get out of the way.

Enemy of my Enemy

Is the engagement clearly defined? Many conflicts are not clear cut two sided affairs. In case conflict between you and this new third party doesn’t escalate too quickly, you might end up rolling an oddly-placed Find Common Ground, or maybe a Defuse using Sway.

Walking Wounded

Are you hurt? You will be… once the battle begins. If it piles up in minor harm boxes, Shake it Off as soon as tactically viable and find the proper cover to blunt the inevitable response. It is impossible to predict what will change in the battlefield (and what soft or hard reaction the GM will use), so at the very least have assets prepared to support you through Under Orders or Call for Aid. Finally, as prepared as you are, Harm is NOT progressive and one true strike might go straight into critical harm boxes – though that will only tip the balance of the battle for less martial Characters. In that case, thanks for the spirited effort, but it’s time to leave the battle for professionals.

Know When to Fold

Is the battle lost? If so, it might be worthwhile to Fiercely Assault a deadly opposition just so your venue of escape is clear to break off the engagement. Keep in mind that the GM is within their rights to dish out increased Harm as a consequence of a clumsy attack. Give Companions a chance to shine and take one for the team, even if it’s a fatal, pulverizing one. If things look dire enough, consider the party’s Death Move options…

The Aftermath

And after all that, even when you succeed at the final, decisive Fiercely Assault, remember your goal was to “hurt, capture or drive off” enemies, not to annihilate them at once. What now then?
We all know Legacy is much more than just fighting. You’ve got a whole world to rebuild, after all. But if you and your group want to run through post-apocalyptic battles, Legacy is still your game. 

Looking for writers – Post-apocalyptic essays!

For the next few books of Legacy, we’re planning to include essays to help groups bring different aspects of post-apocalyptic society to life. There are two books:

The Engine of Life is about how society can rebuild and move out of the post-apocalyptic state into a new status quo, and wants essays on Hope, Love and Tradition.

End Game is more cynical, about how the monsters of the wasteland and backbiting struggles of the survivors could cause another, final apocalypse. For this, we want essays on Exploitation, Strategy and Tragedy.

I’m looking for ~2000 words, paying £0.05/word. If that sounds interesting, get in touch at or ask questions here! If you’d like to send us a writing sample, it’d be best to see something critically engaging with a work of media or genre, talking about its strengths and flaws, and (optionally but best) how it could be used to inspire roleplaying.

Legacy 2nd Edition is now out!

Build a new world in the ruins of the future.

A robotic beetle charges towards a woman, who raises a spear glowing with electricity to fight it.

In the new edition of Legacy: Life Among the Ruins you’ll make your own post-apocalyptic world, control a family of survivors, and tell the saga of your new society over generations. Based on years of feedback from 1st edition, the new edition tightens up the flow of the game, ties characters to their families like never before, and gives you even more tools to create a distinctive and compelling world. Pick it up today!

Key features:

  • From grand strategy to desperate struggle. Shift freely between commanding the movements of spies and armies and fighting monsters in a ruined wasteland, using the fast and dramatic rules of the Powered by the Apocalypse engine.
  • A game of histories. Write the saga of your family over generations and draw on your ancestor’s powers, even as you face the unexpected consequences of their actions.
  • Endless variety. 11 family types and 13 character types create hundreds of possibilities, each with its own meaning for the story you’re telling.
  • Hit the ground running. Start playing today with the included quickstart, complete with five pairs of families and characters, story prompts and a sunless world filled with hungry spectres.

So that was 2017. How did we do?

It’s been a while since I last posted here, eh? With the Legacy 2e Kickstarter a smashing success (#32 most funded in 2017!) I haven’t had much time to keep this place updated, but I thought it might be nice to post a roundup of the year that’s passing.

January-March: What Ho World fulfilment

We started the year off fulfilling the Kickstarter campaign for What Ho, World! and Wizards Aren’t Gentlemen. This went pretty well, with the caveat that the estimates provided to us by Shipwire didn’t include the £2/order packing charge. Ouch. On top of that, I think I over-estimated how many decks to print. We’ve sold about 6 decks a month, and have about 280 left – of which I’d need to sell 215 to actually break even on this campaign. So, again, ouch. The games have been good earners at cons though, and fundamentally I’ve had a lot of backers talking about their fun experiences with the game, so I’m not full of regret. Just things to learn for the future:

  • Be more realistic about the post-crowdfunding sales we can expect.
  • Make absolutely sure how much shipping will cost you!
  • Don’t splurge on adverts – I spent £700-ish on BoardGameGeek ads, when I should have spent more effort building hype for the game before the Kickstarter, posting actual play, etc. Video of your game being played is far far better than any banner advert!

Around this time I was also getting initial feedback on Ghost Ship that showed I really needed to reassess what players would actually do in the game. I’ve got ideas now, but it’s been a long time coming. Hopefully, I’ll have something neat to show you in the new year.

April-June: Two hundred words and thirty thousand people

April was dominated by the 200 Word RPG challenge. We both put together an entry: I made Parasite Vector, a high-octane action game with a body-horror flavour, and Liz made The Holy Mountain, a meditative game about pilgrims uncovering who their fellow travellers really are. It was really fun working to write games that fit under the word count, even if neither of our entries made it to the final set.

In May, we started getting to work on Legacy 2nd Edition. Douglas began his playtests, while I started preparing art briefs for Tithi Luadthong. I also started my Patreon, making one-page RPGs every month to try and continue on the energy of the 200-word RPG challenge – not to mention test my layout skills. Eight months later, there’s quite a collection of games up there:

I’ve started selling them on postcards – check out the store on this site to get your own copies.

Our stall at UKGE!

At the beginning of June, we had the UK Game Expo! It was the biggest convention I’ve ever been to – apparently, total footfall was 30,000 visitors – and I was there tucked in the back row alongside Crooked Dice miniatures and All Rolled Up. Getting used to the scale of the place took some doing, but I made some great connections, ran a fun game of Psi*Run for Games on Demand, and sold a bunch of games. Roll on next year, where hopefully I’ll be part of a group stall with people to chat to during the day and shifts allowing me to take in the rest of the convention.

July-September: The Grand Kickstarting

Promotion for Legacy 2 began in earnest at the end of June, and I experimented with broadcasting my playtests. Getting used to OBS and video editing proved to be its own challenge, but the resulting videos were invaluable when it came time to build hype for the Kickstarter. It also highlighted how I’d been designing with the assumption players would have physical playbooks in front of them, and how that could cause problems playing online. The group was lovely, and posting the videos online meant that far more people than just the playtest group could give me feedback on the game. Certainly something I’ll repeat for future games, though I may not put as much effort into the video component. I’m not sure it added anything of value to the audio.

On the 25th of July, the campaign launched… and by the 26th, it was funded. So began a series of smashed expectations that are continuing to this day. Not sure I can offer wise insights yet, with the game yet to be printed or shipped, but I’d point the Kickstarter success to:

  • Great art. Tithi’s art is incredible and evocative, and supremely eye-catching. I do wish that I’d commissioned pieces for the Kickstarter’s key art, as three other games using the same stock art hit KS at the same time, but following What Ho, World! the budget was tight. There’s a three-way balance between art quality, price, and exclusivity – don’t avoid using stock art, but be aware of the non-financial costs.
  • Transparency. I had a full text of the game available to play at the start of the campaign, recorded playtests and constant communication. Maybe I went a bit overboard with the updates, but I’d definitely recommend over-communicating over under-communicating.
  • Quickstart! I put together a 20-page PDF that communicated the key features of Legacy: a fantastical and weird post-apocalypse, multiple scales of play, and the sweep of history. Then I gave it away for free and got it featured as DriveThruRPG’s free product of the week. If you can do something similar, it’s definitely well worth it.
  • My Customers. I put a lot of effort this time around into hyping up people who had played Legacy 1e. I communicated with previous backers, talked about the game at conventions and on podcasts, and generally got the game lodged in people’s minds as something that was happening.

July was also Game Chef. I’d seen iterations of this competition come and go over the years, and always managed to miss it. I may have been running a Kickstarter, but that was no reason not to write another game! This year, I had a game idea that perfectly fit the competition elements: BordersYarnEchoSmoke, and Cut. That game was Weave, and ended up a finalist! I’m really happy with this game – the arts and crafts sector of nerdery is criminally under-supported in RPGs, and the game produces gentle stories of travel and culture that emergently get people talking about appropriation, local culture and tourism.

August was Nine Worlds Fanfest. It remains a singular convention – nowhere else I’ve been to has been so friendly, welcoming, accommodating and nerdy. A highlight was definitely the panel I put together on getting into RPGs, which included wisdom from Pelgrane‘s Kat Tobin, Black Armada‘s Joshua Fox and Becky Annison, and Rowan, Rook and Decard‘s Chris Taylor. I ran a stall for a day, which again had pretty good takings – especially Weave, whose small PoD print run arrived just in time for the convention.

September was dedicated to dealing with the aftermath of the Kickstarter. Post-KS funding on PledgeManager allowed us to unlock those last few stretch goals, bringing Katherine Cross on board our writing team alongside Khelren, Laurence Phillips, Fyodor Kasatkin and Aaron Griffin. One thing I could have done better was the diversity of my team: out of the 14 writers, artists, editors and layout pros only five were women, and three of those were brought on thanks to stretch goals pretty late in the project. Something to be aware of at the planning stage for the next project.

October-December: Head down and working

Which takes us up to the present. For the past few months I’ve been writing Rhapsody of Blood, my gothic action hack of Legacy inspired by Castlevania and Bloodborne. It’s now in a playtestable state – grab the main text and the playbooks if you’re interested!

We also began work on The Butler at the Threshold – the cosmic horror take on What Ho, World!‘s light-hearted farce. Liz and I have hashed out how we’d like to change the core mechanics and what sort of abilities we want players to have. Have some card previews, and look forward to full rules soon!

Finally, we celebrated the first birthday of our son. Being a parent changes your view of the world, even just through sleep deprivation, and it’s exciting to imagine where we’ll be at in a year’s time. It’s been a strange year – lots of ups and downs, even ignoring the world outside, but UFO Press is still going strong and poised to do orders of magnitude better than before once Legacy 2e drops. Looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings!

Happy new year,

James Iles