Category Archives: author

My Life as a Grog(nard)

So I’ve not been posting much here on My Life as a Grog for a number of reasons.

I have a deep love of ArM5 and I’m proud of the material I’ve contributed to the game over the years (both in the official line but also through this blog, the early days of Marko’s Light of Andorra PBP online Saga, and the fanzines Hermes Portal and the two incarnations of Sub Rosa). However, going back and rejigging the pages of this site with all I’ve learnt about blogging and recycling the material isn’t a high priority for me sorry.

As much as I want this site to be a “Point of Light” between Ars Magica editions as suggested recently by Timothy on the forums, I’m really not going to be feeding the flame as actively as once I was able to and my interests aren’t really “vanilla” ArM5 in any case.

So I’ve gone back to my roots a bit more, shifted to a different main nom de plume (“The Ranting Savant”) and looked back on “Old School Roleplaying” and some of my juvenilia – mainly Planescape material when Jon Winter’s I am the Mimir was more than a husk floating in the digital Astral Sea…

My current active blogs are:

I’m still contactable via the Atlas Forums as Jarkman or by my various RPG related private email addresses for specific questions about aspects of my work, but I’ve enjoying the nostalgia trip and working in a more “rules-lite” design space for now.

Who knows I may be back from Twilight at some stage but for now…

Vale sodales!

 

 

 

 

The Diverse Grog

It’s been over 6 months since I last posted to this blog – during the hiatus I had a brief foray into writing another RPG blog, but although I learnt a lot from that particular experiement, for a variety of personal reasons that stopped as well. I’ve now had a chance to regroup and reflect and I think the time has come to evolve the site into a more general RPG blog (because there just aren’t enough of those, eh?).

I’ve decided I’ll keep the name out of affection for my work on Ars Magica 5th Edition and all the material is still there, just neatly filed under the “Ars Magica” tab above.

Go on take a look now and double-check for the most popular ArM5 pages…

The main difference is I’ve lifted most of the non-Ars Magica content out from behind the “Sundry” tab into different tabs eg. GDW’s Twilight 2k, Iron Kingdoms, Pathfinder RPG etc for ease of reference although the somewhat surprisingly popular 3 Optional Weapons for Mouse Guard is still hidden in there for the moment as it’s the only MG article and I haven’t written any additional material for that system since.

So a more diverse grog, a more evolved grog perhaps but with all the history?

Enjoy…

The Grog in Review (2014)

OK, so I received this new report about this blog when I was on leave, and therefore this is a bit late but I really had better things to do on New Year’s eve fortunately and I’ve now had some time to reflect on this and digest it’s significance.

I think it’s been a good year, at least for the ‘Grog overall, and my development as a writer in general. Although I don’t really have a prior summary (apart from this interim review I generated myself), over the last year I seem to have blogged more, blogged better and generated a whole lot more interest in the site – something I’m very thankful for, although clearly I’m still a long way away from quitting my day job…

Continue reading The Grog in Review (2014)

Provencal Tribunal Summary for Project Redcap updated

Now that Faith and Flame has been out for a few weeks, I’ve had a chance to start to update the Provencal entry on the Project Redcap wiki on the page entitled: Which Tribunal to Choose? – The Provencal Tribunal.

Provencal Tribunal Summary (Atlas Forums)

This very useful page on the wiki briefly summarises the various Tribunals from a play potential perspective, using where possible a template developed back about a year ago now. The idea grew out of a prolonged discussion thread on the Atlas Games Forums about Tribunal Books, which now provides (incomplete) summaries of the various regions of Mythic Europe (and beyond) that a Saga could potentially be set.

One of the comments that led the discussion was the perception that all the existing Tribunal books at that time had some unusual quirk or cultural aspect that dominated the Tribunal and the way magi interacted. During the writing of Faith and Flame we intentionally tried to keep Provencal “vanilla” ie. as close to the default Hermetic society portrayed in the ArM5 corebook.

This concept is briefly outlined in broad terms in the insert on page 22 of Faith and Flame, “A Tribunal for Every Magus?”. The philosophy behind this was to provide a “default” setting, which would therefore make it easy to start a beginning Saga and to allow ideas and material from supplements from previous editions (particularly ArM2) to be utilized with only minor need for conversion (albeit with a 23 year jump in timeline due tot he different canonical starting dates between editions).

By updating the page I hope that the information provided will prove useful for Troupes considering starting a new Saga and make choosing Provencal as their initial setting more likely.

Design Notes: Mythic Groot?

ArM5Rocket+Groot
Design Notes for Mythic Groot

Inspiration strikes in the strangest ways.

As I’m in between official writing projects at the moment, I’ve decided to try a few different exercises to work on the technical aspects of ArM5 writing (aka “grogging” would be the appropriate word perhaps here) that I feel I need to develop more. This basically means practice.

The skill I think needs the most work is stat blocks – when it comes to a choice of “crunch” (mechanics), I’ll take “fluff” any day… partly because I think there are enough mechanics and sub systems already but mainly to avoid stat blocks.

So to make this more fun, I’ve  decided to undertake a more whimsical project – I’m intending to interpret two of popular culture’s more recent misfits, Rocket and Groot, in ArM5 terms, but not just as a straight conversion, I want to represent this oddball pair in the Mythic Europe paradigm as characters that could be used in a default Saga.

I’ve started with Groot, mainly because I’ve been interested in the concept of Loamwalkers and their relationship to the Redcaps of The Broken Branches but also because I believe I can use the Elementals from Realms of Power: Magic as a starting point and then deconstruct and carve out a “Herbam Quasi-Elemental” from it, literally whittling out the Character Guide / Description from the rough block. He’s basically a lumbering giant made of bark and wood, with powers relating to changing parts of his form through growth and twisting, so I think I can replicate those elements readily enough with existing Powers and creative use of the Hibernian warrior feats or clesrada introduced in The Contested Isle (see pages 102-104) while still remaining within the ArM5 paradigm.

My initial design notes for Groot, sketched onto a promotional graphic can be found in the annotated image above, and the completed block will be uploaded shortly.

As to Rocket, a major stumbling block is that raccoons are not native to Mythic Europe (although have been introduced in later years apparently) and the morphologically similar raccoon dog is only found in the Far East… so unless I invoke a Criamon Greco-Buddhist mystic travelling back from a pilgrimage along the Silk Road with an exotic familiar I’m seemingly out of luck.

Fortunately Timothy has given me a great suggestion for the anthropomorphic weapons master that makes great sense and links the pair into Ars canon and history nicely…

Unboxing Provence via Glass

So Ben MacFarland (one of the US based ArM5 line authors) presented the authors of Faith and Flame with a bit of a present today – he used his Google Glass to record the “unboxing” of his newly arrived copies and flicked through them slowly so the non-US authors (CJ and me basically) could have a look at the artwork. You can’t see the actual text clearly so it’s apparently legit from Atlas Games’ point of view but you can make out the layout.

I’m very thankful to Ben for his efforts – simply put the maps (by Matt Ryan) are amazing and I particularly enjoyed the artwork in my Arelat chapter. Good to see some new interior artists and I particularly liked the Lou Carcohl by relative newcomer Christian St Pierre (who was responsible for the lovely “Siege of Mistridge” piece that graces the cover).

Go see the dedicated “Faith and Flame” thread over at the Atlas Games Forums for more comments as we continue to discuss the supplement.

My copies still haven’t arrived in Oz sadly… even the line editor, David Chart, who lives in Japan usually gets his copies before me here in the Antipodes. 😦

Flambeau Apocrypha (Re)Ignites

A Flambeau Magus with Deft Ignem?

Back in early 2008, long-time Berklist alumni and agitator, Mark D Faulkner (aka “Marko Markoko”) sent me a draft of a piece he’d written in response to the “reinterpretation” of House Flambeau presented in Houses of Hermes: Societates that he wished to submit (in a spirit of protest perhaps) to Sub Rosa, then under the helmsmanship of Alex White.

It was a great piece, a real “diamond in the rough”, and a real showcase for Marko’s passion for all things Flambeau and his unbridled and consuming creativity.

I had the opportunity of commenting on some of the early drafts and the privilege of seeing the piece hammered into its final form, tempered into a striking 10-page piece with some great accompanying art. Marko has since gone on to write for the official line, contributing the almogavars to Grogs, the “City of Brass” adventure in Tales of Power and was the initial creative force behind the Val-Negra chapter of the just released Faith and Flame: the Provençal Tribunal.

I’ve managed to convince / cajole / beg / badger Marko into allowing me to repost the article here to coincide with the release of the latest supplement as the first of a series of supplementary posts to support the official Provençal material.

It’s definitely worth checking out.

Oh, and don’t forget that the remainder of Issue #3 contains articles by later editors Ben MacFarland and Mark Lawford as well as a revised piece on Mythic Zoroastrianism by then editor Alex White that ultimately evolved into the chapter of the same name in the first supplement I worked on, The Cradle and the Crescent…